Credibility and Trust Are Key Elements in Sales and Marketing
The July / August Issue of Harvard Business Review generated a great deal of discussion and debate in the blogosphere on the possible death of solution selling for B2B selling. When it comes to sales, as a CEO I’m sure you have heard your sales executives tell you or perhaps you even believe yourself that “People buy from people they like”. In my years of marketing and working with sales, I think people buying from people they like is an urban legend. Let me explain.
It’s All About Creating Credibility and Trust
While I know some buyers appreciate some form of personal interaction with their sales person, I think the key factor in successful sales is literally knowing more about theprospective customers business (where your products touch the business) than they do. And I mean everything. Every detail, every nuance, every possible angle where the solution you are selling may have an impact. If your company and your sales representatives can stand up in front of a group of executives/decision makers and discuss intricate areas of their business with absolute confidence and authority, then instead of worrying about if they like you, you create an atmosphere of credibility and trust. Of course, this is not ignoring common courtesy and professionalism in their engagement with the prospects, but I think if you look at your own business decisions as a CEO, you would agree that credibility and trust will build a much richer relationship than “liking” someone.
The benefits to you and the prospect are tremendous
- By creating sales and marketing content that shows you understand their business you come across as credible and trustworthy; two very valued traits for any decision maker.
- Value always sells over price. The sales cycle will likely be shorter since the decision makers will have confidence investing in you and your company primarily because you were able to uncover more value for them.
- You move out of that red ocean of features and functions wars and dramatically differentiate yourself from your competitors in valuable and measureable ways.
- You can absolutely leverage this information. Future selling situations with similar companies will have you building on your already established vast knowledge. This will establish your reputation as someone who knows what they are talking about – bringing you sales demand and not just sales leads.
- When this reputation starts to spread among prospective buyers and on the internet, they will begin contacting you rather than you trying to persuade people to meet with you. This is not a just a sales lead; this is sales demand. There is a big difference and the bottom line is increased sales.
- You will have more referral business and quite possibly as a CEO be asked to speak in front of ever expanding groups of decision makers and industry veterans. This is more valuable than any marketing campaign.
- You will stop being seen as a vendor and come to be seen as a trusted adviser for real and not just as someone who just wants to sell something.
Solution selling and marketing is alive and well…..but different
This gets us back to Solution Selling and supporting marketing efforts. With the explosive growth of the internet and social media, the key to engaging with buyers on their buyers’ journey is valuable content. If as CEO you direct your sales and marketing teams to take the time to research, analyze and understand the business needs of your target audience and their industries and direct your marketing and sales content in support of that buyers learning cycle, your building demand, not just leads. Think about this: isn’t this at the core of solutions marketing and solution selling? That is why solution selling isn’t dead – it’s just moved to the internet and social media leveraged by valuable content and real research and analytics tools. And one last benefit – with this approach I think you will find that because your company has developed a genuine and lasting relationship with customers and prospective customers, you will be far more “liked” in social media than you would have been trying to pursue being liked person to person. And as a CEO that is a ‘like’ you can take to the bank.