Leveraging Transparency and Trust to get B2B Buyers to “Yes”
When it comes to making a decision, neuroscience tells us that there are three key buy buttons that you have to trigger as a seller to get B2B buyers to “Yes”: Emotion, Logic and Trust. And this is not new, as some 2,600 years ago Aristotle spoke of Pathos, Logos and Ethos on how to win friends and influence people.
Although most would think that logic is the main decision making factor, studies by CEB and the Challenger sale proved that Emotion was the significant driving factor behind most decisions. Stoke fear, uncertainty and doubt to get a visceral reaction in order to shake up the status quo and inspire the buyer to move away from the “pain” of current challenges and legacy systems / practices.
Fast forward ten years however, and things have changed. Because of the pandemic and the uncertainty around health and wellness, remote work, the economy and more, amygdala overload is real. As a result, stoking fear and doubt needs to be tempered.
Where in the past a decision might have been 50% emotion, 25% logic and 25% trust, we now see a decided shift, to now Trust being the majority deciding factor. This does not mean that emotion and logic don’t come into play, but that you won’t advance the buyer’s journey and get to “Yes” without activating the “Trust Buy Button”
The Expectation of Trust
In a recent conversation with Todd Caponi, trust expert and author of the Transparency Sale, he mentions that Trust is not absolute. So the advice above needs to be tempered with buyer expectations set by prior experiences, your branding and positioning, the marketplace and your competitors.
One of my favorite Seinfeld episodes illustrates this perfectly, the Soup Nazi, a new soup deli that insisted on a ridiculously strict behavior while placing an order. However, the soups are so good that there is a line out the door. You are willing to put up with the absurd requirements and brusk service, and come to expect this, in order to get the soup.
Meet and exceed the expectations, and you are golden, even if those expectations are not perfect, and in some cases far from it. However, fail to be transparent and fall short of the expectations for service, delivery, quality etc, and “No Decision” and perhaps a loss to a competitor is the likely outcome.
Activating the Trust Buy Button
When it comes to building trust, I like to think about the challenge in three different dimensions:
1. Trust in You as the Seller
2. Trust in Your Organization
3. Trust in the Decision
Trust in You as the Seller
It has been often said that you buy from a person, the seller, versus a company, and even though most selling is now virtual, surveys reveal that the seller is still very important to a positive outcome. As an individual seller you have an opportunity to build trust with the buyer and decision making committee on an individual basis.
In order to cultivate Trust, this usually means:
1. Being on time and professional
2. Keeping all commitments, consistently
3. Being a good Listener and making the buyer feel heard and supported
4. Collaborating more than demonstrating and showing
5. Helping more than selling
6. Being respectful of your buyers time and decision making process, proactively facilitating, but not rushing the process they need to go through on their journey
7. Being transparent and truthful about proposed solution strengths, shortcomings and pricing
Notice one missing element of Personal Trust? Often sellers are told that being likeable is important, and of course we would certainly rather do business with folks we like spending time with. However, likeability alone won’t get you the deal. There are plenty of people we like, including family members, but we would never do business with them. And to the contrary, I can think of several folks I have purchased from that I might not personally like, but love the product and outcomes so much, I am willing to put up with the rude rep.
Trust in Your Organization
You may be a great and trustworthy seller, but if you don’t like the organization you won’t do business with the rep.
In order for the organization to cultivate trust, you usually need to:
1. Build a brand that is consistent and representative of the solution and experience
2. Tie the brand to a bigger purpose, and be able to articulate your “Why” story
3. Communicate success stories relevant to the buyer, with tangible outcomes for the individual buyer as well as the customer’s organization
4. Garner good, but honest reviews that highlight strengths as well as highlight a few challenges.
Trust in the Decision
Trust in the decision means that all buyers are confident that they are making the right choice in the solution and provider. For many buyers, a poor decision could negatively impact their career or even cost them their job.
When making a decision, a neuroscience factor of status quo bias can significantly hamper a positive outcome. Status quo bias is where the decision maker subconsciously elevates the perceived cost and risk of the solution and change. Status quo seems more comfortable and change seems more risky.
As a seller you need to take status quo bias into account in order to generate trust in the decision. To do this you can
1. Proactively and transparently communicate pricing and other required investments (time and effort for example)
2. Proactively and transparently address potential risks in implementing and deploying the solution, as well as achieving expected results
3. Collaboratively quantify potential savings and business value outcomes in a financial justification business case to show significant benefits to offset the cost and risk perceptions.
4. Provide evidence that the investment is worthwhile and outcomes achievable via relevant success stories
5. Communicate the commitment to assuring outcomes, especially via customer success programs and reviews.
With more buyers involved in the decision making process, it is difficult to gain consensus and trust in the decision from all those involved. Making the job of generating trust in the decision that much harder, as you have to garner the trust not just from the champions/ mobilizers you are meeting with, but from a much broader set of direct and indirect deciders including now in many organizations special committees put together to scrutinize each decision.
Building trust is more important than ever, exceeding the triggers of Emotion and Logic to help your buyer in making the best decision, and getting your opportunities from “Do Nothing” to “Yes”.
As a solution provider and seller, in order to be successful, you need to gain, build and sustain trust throughout the buyer’s journey and customer lifecycle, from the first interaction, to way past the successful sale.
In order to accomplish this, you will need to train, enable and coach an evolution to evolve sellers from being able to pitch products to now become “Ambassadors of Trust”.
From our EVOLVE 2021 event, checkout this on-demand session here, as I speak to the important buy-button of Trust:
- Recording – https://assets.mediafly.com/l/QvAgugXnuQTE
- Slide Deck – https://assets.mediafly.com/l/YEGJYuz2F3Qm
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