Salespeople are challenged in today’s information-rich buying environment to engage productively with B2B buyers and secure quality opportunities. One of the reasons behind this challenge is the Customer’s distrust. When sharing information with Customers, I am sure we all have encountered ‘Customer Skepticism’ expressed differently during various moments. Be aware of the way Customers reply and what they really think is different. For example:
|WHEN||CUSTOMER REPLIES||WHAT THEY REALLY THINK|
|When making that first call to obtain an appointment||No, thanks, we are OK with the suppliers we have.||Salespeople waste my time. So far, they do not add value|
|When sharing information||Interesting, I will have a look at that. Thanks. Leave it with me.||Another article to read. Is it really something I don’t know?|
|When sharing specific solutions||OK, thanks for showing me. Leave it with me to think about.||This looks complicated and a lot of work. Is it really different from my current supplier?|
Often, Salespeople are put off by these customers’ responses, followed by an awkward moment. Salespeople feel brushed off and are uncomfortable about what to do next. The flow of the conversation is broken, while there is no commitment to a next step. After an awkward attempt to “save” the meeting, the conversation ends, and the Salesperson leaves with an unfavourable outcome. What caused the doubt or even mistrust of the customer? What went wrong?
Customer Scepticism Research
Gartner did some research on the root cause of customer scepticism. They investigated why the Customer is reacting like that.
Customer scepticism can spiral opportunities into a dark hole, and it is undoubtedly worthwhile spending some time to better understand this. How can we beat Customer scepticism? We must look at both the Customer’s AND the Salesperson’s behaviours.
Overwhelmed, Confused and Unclear
On the Customer’s side, the research shows three defined causes for expressing distrust.
- Overwhelmed. In their search for their next business-growth drivers, Customers are inundated with quality information. Most of this learning occurs independently of Seller interaction through digital and rep-free channels. When Salespeople present them with more articles and data to read, overwhelmed emotions bottle up.
- Confused. Too much information leads to confusion. The following are quotes from Customers in the Gartner study: ” We encountered information from various suppliers that appeared trustworthy but was contradictory”. In other words, as it sometimes happens, different sources around the same subject have different opinions and recommendations. And that is not helping the Customer.
- Unclear. The study also reveals that sales reps do not make it easier with the way they explain their insights and solutions. Customer: “Making informed trade-offs between suppliers and their capabilities was difficult”. If the information explanation would be more precise, Customers would react differently.
B2B buying is complex. These customer experiences lead to a heightened erosion of confidence and increased customer scepticism toward the Seller.
Adapt to new skills.
Addressing the -overwhelmed, confused and not unclear – Customer and hence beating the Customer’s scepticism, two more skills will help you in addition to the Selling with the Buyer’s Perspective skillset.
- Use Third-party insights to increase your credibility
- Have a content curation strategy.
Let me explain both.
Use Third-party insights to Increase your credibility
Scientists are regarded as the most credible persons in the world. Why? Because they use unbiased research methods and data transparency. What they say and conclude sounds trustworthy. So, let’s learn from that. When bringing new information linked to your business ideas for your customers, use reliable, third-party content.
“Customers who are looking for growth opportunities are intrigued by neutral research articles about their business challenges”.Gartner
Verify the insightful information. Did a well-known research company write it? Can you trust the source? Evaluate the trustworthiness of your data sources and avoid common pitfalls and biases that can compromise your data quality and credibility. Avoid sources that are outdated, incomplete, or biased. At this stage of your sales process (Why Change and Change to What?), your Stakeholders must not feel they are sold to. Instead, by sharing reliable third-party information, you are helping them to see a different perspective on their challenges backed up by independent research. Selling is Helping.
Have a content curation strategy.
Content is King. Data and information are now central in influencing stakeholders and, ultimately, decision-making. So, it is not only essential to lead Customer conversations with relevant insights but also to start thinking HOW you will do this.
- Add valuable commentary. What does the information mean for your Customer?
- Use storytelling. Turn the insightful information into a story of how you have helped another customer with the same information.
- Use visuals. One picture tells a thousand words. Show one graph, one picture or a highlighted text to emphasise the insight and relevancy to your Customer’s business.
- Wrap it up. Cut through the noise and conclude your sharing with a thought-provoking statement or question, enabling the customer to see a different perspective.
Customers, flooded with information, are not waiting for another sales rep to share unqualified, complicated-to-comprehend information. They want to meet with credible Salespeople who have done their homework and know how to bring unbiased, insightful information to their table. That is how you beat the Customer’s Scepticism.