Everyone is talking about the importance of customer trust.

According to Cisco VP Manjula Talreja, at the recent Sales 2.0 Conference, salespeople must become trusted advisors to their customers. It’s no longer just about selling ‘widgets.’ To become a trusted advisor to your customer, you must have real-time information about what’s happening in your customer’s company.

If buyers don’t believe salespeople understand their needs, they lose trust, added Gartner analyst Tiffani Bova. And, to achieve and maintain that trust, sales organizations need to know where customers are in the buyer journey.

Even at the annual Berkshire Hathaway meeting, trust was a prominent topic, with vice chairman Charlie Munger asserting that “trust surpasses knowledge” as the #1 key to success.

The days have passed when sales teams could rely on pure product knowledge or pricing advantage to successfully sell to customers. The maximum business value that sales organizations can provide to customers in a connected age comes through digital insights and increased understanding.

As sales leaders, how can you prepare your teams for success?

To strengthen customer relationships, organizations must adapt to new buyers. Existing sales processes don’t serve today’s buyers. To serve customers more effectively, sales teams must create new processes to:

  • Understand where the customer is in the buying process.
  • Respond to customers at the moment of interest.
  • Leverage automated systems that increase agility.

Understand where the customer is in the buying process

“If you always treat the buyer as if they’re starting at the beginning of the buyer journey, you’ve really missed an opportunity here.”

Tiffani Bova, Gartner, Inc.

To determine where a customer is in the buying process requires insights. Your team needs to know how engaged prospects are and what information interests them the most. Your team also needs the ability to quickly identify everyone who has a hand in the decision-making process.

By giving your team these insights, you empower them to engage with customers in the manner they want – and build a ‘customer-driven’ focus for the organization.

Respond at the moment of interest

In today’s world, everything revolves around speed. Your sales team needs to react to customer behaviors in real-time. By understanding customer behaviors, your sales reps can see when they are engaged, so they can respond faster than the competition. Analytics give them insight into how and when customers interact, so they can drive the right type of engagement forward at the right time. Advanced tools can give your sales team the insights to anticipate customers’ needs – all done virtually.

When to respond is important, but how to respond is even more important. Sales tools must give your team the real-time data to react and respond to customers more effectively.

Leverage automated systems to increase agility

To build customer confidence and trust, businesses must have an agile sales organization and processes put in place to help sales teams understand where and how to optimize.

Sales leaders need to rethink how processes can help their sales reps work better. Email templates with pre-attached content can be a huge time-saver, but the benefit of automation goes deeper than that. By using email automation combined with analytics, you can see what emails work best and what ones don’t – giving a manager visibility into which approach is more successful with customers.

If trust is the #1 factor for success, do your salespeople have everything they need to build that trust?

Do they have insights about customer interests? Can they respond to customers in real-time? Do your processes support a customer-driven organization?

To learn how digital insights can help sales leaders strengthen customer relationships, register for this free white paper “Why Sales VPs are Turning to Digital Listening to Accelerate Sales.”

This article was originally published here.