3 tips for building trust throughout the customer journey

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In the sales business, we talk a lot about sales funnels and sales cycles and sales process, but it’s also important to remember the customer’s point of view. Because in the same way that sales people have a “sales process” that we’re trying to work through, customers have a “buying process,” too. Every customer has a “customer journey” that they go through with a number of steps, from researching a possible purchase, to discovering your company, to considering your solution alongside the competition, to contacting your company, to talking with your sales people, to closing the deal. It’s important to create a customer experience that builds trust every step of the way.

Here are a few ideas for how your company can establish trust and build relationships with customers at every step of the customer journey:

1. Offer informative content marketing to aid the customer’s research and create trust upfront. Today, the customer journey begins with the first moment that your prospective customer finds your website or enters a Google search or asks friends on social media for recommendations of a good solution provider or vendor. Customers are better informed and more active in researching their purchases than ever before. This means that your company needs to be ready to meet them – right from the beginning – with well-written, value-adding content marketing. Whether it’s blog posts or infographics or short video clips or podcasts, be prepared to offer a welcome mat to your company’s front door by giving customers the information they need to assist in their product research and show that your company is knowledgeable and helpful and approachable.

2. Create a consistent, helpful process for handling inbound sales inquiries. Once a new customer has read your content marketing and decided to call or send an email to contact your company with an inbound inquiry, it’s important to handle these new prospects with care. Don’t just take messages or forward calls to the sales team. Make sure your intake process for inbound sales prospects is consistent and value-adding. From the very first conversation, take time to ask questions to start to qualify these inbound sales leads – figure out which ones are good fits and which ones aren’t ready to buy. By doing this, you will save time for your sales team, and you’ll also show the customer that you care about learning more about their needs, and that you have a well-organized process in place to start communicating with them, and that you’re ready to work closely with them through their purchase decision making.

3. Keep nurturing sales leads for the long-term, even if they aren’t ready to buy immediately. Not all new customers are going to be ready to buy from you right away – and that’s OK! In complex B2B sales, it can take from 6 to 9 months, to a year or more, for major account B2B sales to move from the initial inquiry to deal closing. Customers will trust you more if you show that you’re not too eager to close the deal right away. Show patience. Put a process in place to keep nurturing your sales leads – with ongoing follow-up and communication – to keep answering questions, building relationships, and creating trust, even if it takes many months to move forward on making the sale.

Every customer’s journey has its own unique ups and downs. Some sales close more quickly than you might have expected at first, while others get bogged down with delays and complications that come from out of nowhere. B2B sales can be unpredictable, but one thing that you can control is the way you build trust with customers at each step of their customer journey – with consistent processes, clear communication, and ongoing follow-up.

Al Davidson
Al Davidson is the founder of Strategic Sales & Marketing, a "leading light" among lead generation companies, delivering B2B lead generation and b2b appointment setting services for clients ranging from local small businesses to the Fortune 100. Since 1989, the company's sales agents have generated over 7 million sales leads, and created millions of dollars for clients.

1 COMMENT

  1. Al, good topic.

    As salespeople, we get too entrenched in viewing the world through the “quota lens.”
    A better buying experience can only happen if the sales and marketing folks are willing to examine the processes they offer through the eyes of the customer!

    Thanks,
    Jim Watson
    Portland, Maine
    http://www.throughtheeyesofthecustomer.com

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