In a recent finding by Gartner, buyers typically only spend 17% of their time meeting with sales reps of potential suppliers when considering a change. Before this, it was maybe 50%, now slimmed by at least 30%. If a B2B buying group would meet with two alternative suppliers, then any of the three sales reps, including the incumbent supplier, would only have roughly 5% of the customer’s total purchasing time. That’s not a lot and a huge wake-up call for sales reps. How can you turn that 5% -of their time spent with you- into 100%?
The reason why buyers are spending less time with salespeople is multiple, but one that stands out is trust or actually less trust. I argue that the hypothetically 50% time spent with sales reps went to 5% because of the lack of trustworthiness. In the view of buyers, salespeople do not deliver the value they are looking for and will not ask them back for a follow-up meeting. Selling with a seller’s perspective will put you in the 5% category. Selling with the buyer’s perspective will bring you back to 50% or even more. Let’s sum up how to win the buyer’s trust back:
- The right mindset creates trust. The foundation of trust is caring. You show you are focused on them as opposed to focusing on closing the deal. You truly want to understand what is important for their business right now, you care and want to help.
- Your assertiveness with the right attitude builds trust. You are not an order-taker, or an account manager that only wants to please stakeholders. You challenge the buyer in a respectful way that their current set-up may not deliver the results they are looking for.
- You gain trust by not pushing to a close too soon. instead, you recognize that decisions are made through a consensus. You understand that decisions are made by teams and not by one person only. If one stakeholder likes what you have to contribute to their challenges, ask who else has a stake in the matter.
- Appreciation builds trust. Buyers are looking for information that can help them progress in their buying process. Recognizing this, you provide stakeholders with research, trends related to their challenges, white papers as a third party opinion. And your own opinion how you think you can help.
- Listening gains trust. Instead of pitching your products and solutions, you ask questions with the intention of really understanding.
- Focus on business and strategic value will build trust. Acting more as a business person, you have an opinion on what the prospect should prioritize next, to deal with the challenges the company faces. Your view is based on one objective: delivering strategic advantages.
- Knowing how to talk to senior management builds trust. You come prepared with a laser focus on how you think you can help with improving their business results. You get to the point backed up with conversations you had with their direct reports.
- Last but not least, you gain trust by doing a lot of leg-work. Facilitate meetings between users, influencers, and decision-makers, all with one common goal: greater success for the company.
Stephen R. Covey said: “Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” Trust is the glue in business too. As a Trusted Advisor, without gaining the trust, the customer will not allow you to advise. Work on the above eight seller actions to gain back the prospect’s time.