Last week, the American Association of Inside Sales Professionals conference came to Atlanta. Lots of great learning and networking, and I also had the pleasure of delivering a session entitled The ROI of Trust in Social Selling. If you have been reading my posts and articles of late, you know that I am a proponent of Customer Experience.
According to a CEI Survey, 86% of buyers will pay MORE for a better customer experience. But only 1% of customers feel that vendors consistently meet their expectations.
Though the pundits of Social Selling would have you believe that a few crash courses on using social media as part of the selling process is all that’s needed to drive revenue, the reality is that revenue goals are not achieved by sales alone. Sales may carry the quota, but other functional departments – Marketing, Service, Operations, Accounting and the C-Suite – play a big role in wins and losses.
A go/no go decision can happen with the first marketing email a prospect receives or webinar they attend. It might be the over eager sales reps hounding them that turns them off. Perhaps their request for more information – via Twitter – about your product falls on deaf ears. Maybe they grew weary trying to find a person they could chat with person to person.
The customer acquisition and happiness path is no longer linear, which is why I wonder why sales, marketing and service folks keep acting like it is. Every interaction – positive and negative – leads to the achievement of sales objectives – or not. And if you think that once a customer always a customer…think again. In 2013, only 37% of brands received good or excellent customer experience index scores. That leaves a 64% gap of brands earning a rating ranging from OK to very poor from their customers.
What does this have to do with trust?
Quite a bit actually. If buyers don’t trust you, they won’t purchase from you. In addition to that blinding flash of the obvious is that trust impacts the bottom line.
Says Keld Jensen in his recent Forbes blog post on trust, “According to one study, trust has declined more than 46% in the Western world over the past 20 years. This has markedly damaged the growth and financial success rates of businesses, individuals and governments. Why? A low level of trust increases transactional costs and reduces profit. By comparison, where trust is high, transactional costs are reduced and profits increase.”
When I think about sales as a profession, we have, unfortunately, had an image problem for a very long time. Lack of trust in salespeople is a big part of the reason our profession’s image is tarnished.
Trust is earned and it takes time. Once destroyed it is hard to establish again. Building trust requires giving first without expecting an immediate return. It means doing the right thing, telling the truth and approaching the selling process with the buyer’s needs, wants and interests in mind. Trust means genuinely caring that what you sell delivers on the promise and does no harm to the buyer’s business.
Trust goes hand in hand with great experience. It’s about time salespeople worked to repair the buyer’s perception of both.