Whether you’re married, dating or simply just friends, trust is the main ingredient for any successful relationship. And relationships between salespeople and prospects are no different. When someone chooses to go with your product or solution, they are putting their budget, time, success and, more often than not, reputation on the line. There must be an element of trust to feel comfortable making this sort of decision.
In a recent interview, founder of sales training firm The Hoffeld Group and author of The Science of Selling David Hoffeld said, “What we’ve found is that there is a direct correlation between the way prospects judge the salesperson and the way they judge the company. If they trust the salesperson, they trust the company, and vise versa.”
But trust is fragile, and once it’s broken, it’s nearly impossible to repair. Here are three reasons why your prospects may be losing faith in your business, and what your team can do to avoid these trust issues in future relationships.
Premature Process Steps
As ex-sales ops professional and current product marketer at Base Lindsey Bly explains in the Science of Sales Bootcamp, companies tend to create sales processes that lay things out the way that they wish they would happen. In reality, a sales process should be reflective of your customers’ needs and realistic buying processes – not your needs.
She then shares an example of a time at a previous company when she noticed prospects frequently dropping out of a particular pipeline stage. After some digging and analysis, she and her team discovered that the culprit was a request for credit card information that was being sent far too early in the sales process.
Because prospects felt that their “relationship” with the company had not yet progressed to a point where credit information was necessary, they got spooked, lost trust in the process and went dark. Lindsey concludes, “If we had waited a stage to do this or added an extra little step to verify our customer’s requirements, the overall process would have run a lot smoother.”
Take a step back and examine your sales process – could premature requirements like this be hurting your prospect relationships? Be sure that early stage process steps are focused on understanding needs and defining outcomes, and any major asks are saved for further in the funnel.
You trust your best friend – you share great memories, she knows all about you and you have all sorts of inside jokes. She made an effort to get to know you, and you’ve grown increasingly close ever since.
Now, imagine if she had never bothered to learn your name or where you work, or constantly forgot what you shared with her each time you spoke. No doubt she wouldn’t be your best friend, and you definitely wouldn’t trust her.
So how do you think prospects feel when they receive a generic outreach email starting with “Hi there”? Or when reps ask them to repeat their goals? Why should they trust your company when your reps haven’t made an effort to get to know them or their business?
Many times this is a product of competing priorities – reps feel pressured to work fast and be productive, which leaves little time for personalization. However, research shows that personalized emails result in 6x higher transaction rates than those that are not, which means reps must find a way to achieve these two competing goals. One way to make this happen is by using a sales platform that enables reps to use pre-written email templates and customize them at scale using merge tags.
Another culprit of impersonal communication is poor organization. Without an easy way to record important prospect information and an even faster way to access it, reps may find it more efficient to simply ask again rather than dig through the recesses of their inbox or CRM looking for the answer. To avoid this misstep, be sure to choose a sales platform that facilitates seamless data entry and access.
Failure to Respond at Key Moments
The instantaneous nature of social networks and Google search has accustomed consumers to receiving real-time answers and attention. As such, it can be extremely frustrating and cause major anxiety for prospects when sales reps fail to respond to their questions or concerns in a timely fashion.
In all fairness, with hundreds of leads in a rep’s funnel at any given time, expecting your team to react to prospects’ needs in real-time just isn’t realistic. However, thanks to developments in natural language processing and artificial intelligence, your sales platform has the power to be your eyes and ears and alert you of any red flags.
Sales platforms with real-time, custom notifications enable reps to go about their daily business and receive alerts notifying them of activities or occurrences that they have defined as important and warranting immediate action. Examples of these include when a prospect views a sent document or replies to an email with negative sentiment. Reps can then reach out to address any concerns and answer any questions, effectively fostering trust by being aware and proactive.
Losing Trust Means Losing Dollars
As the saying goes, “Trust takes years to build, seconds to lose and forever to repair.” Not to mention, news travels fast – giving prospects the chance to lose faith in your business can not only harm your financials, but it can also damage your reputation. To make sure that your team has the right tools and tactics in place to build strong customer relationships, download The 2017 Guide for Next-Generation Sales Leaders.