The Trust Deficit in the Customer Buying Journey

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There is an increasing trust deficit in the world. In a recent special report on brand trust and the Coronavirus pandemic from the Edelman Trust Barometer, 71 percent of respondents noted that their trust in a brand depends upon the notion that the brand is not putting profit over people. One of the simplest ways for leaders to address the trust deficit, based on this perception, is to demonstrate the importance of people, from employees to customers, to their brand and make their value evident every day.

Customer relationships pivot upon the fulcrum of trust, but to be securely established, trust must be built one step at a time, carefully cultivated and constantly maintained. Addressing the trust deficit in the customer buying journey depends on placing customers at the center of business strategy, understanding the knowledge that buoys customers in the digital age, and finding ways to be both relevant and valuable to a customer’s greatest needs.

Put Your Customers at the Center

Addressing the trust deficit starts with rethinking your sales strategy to reinvent the way you view customer relationships, namely, by putting customers at the center of business strategy rather than at the bottom of the funnel. This fundamental shift allows sellers to start from a place of trust through every touchpoint of the customer buying journey– beginning with the initial stages of customer acquisition. After all, customer acquisition is significantly streamlined when you are starting from a foundation of trust.

Once you have a customer, turning them into a loyal customer — and eventually an advocate — will only occur once you have proven trust. By earning the confidence of your customers, you as a seller become much more likely to close a deal or win other positive outcomes for your business.

Know What Your Customer Knows

Knowledge management is an essential component of the customer buying journey. Customers in the digital age are highly informed, and it is important to be aware of what information is broadly available to your customer so that you can meet them where they are. The massive quantities of data available online have transformed the way trust is developed and negotiated, regardless of whether or not the data is credible. Throughout the sales process, sellers should focus on maintaining accurate facts, and be ready to discuss any supplementary information their prospective customers may have seen or heard elsewhere.

In order to succeed with providing the right information at the right time in the buyer’s journey, sellers need to work together across the revenue team — hand-in-hand with marketing, operations, customer success, and others — to build better, more trusted and personalized relationships with prospects and customers, which will ultimately lead to better opportunities and improved reference management. Providing consistent answers and a single source of truth enables sellers to improve business efficiency across the greater revenue team while simultaneously reducing customer effort.

Provide Relevant Value for Customers’ Greatest Needs

Providing real value that results in customer retention starts with understanding their role, preferences, and specific business needs. Typically, that means figuring out what challenges your customer might be facing, then offering insights based on your industry expertise so that when you reach out to them you can offer a solution tailored to fit their specific problem. Customer touchpoints along the buying journey are not one-size-fits-all, so reaching your individual customers with personalized communications is key to building trust and loyalty.

Ultimately a seller’s and buyer’s goals are aligned: to have every interaction along the buying journey offer some sort of value-add. To provide this value, sellers need to connect with customer needs and desired outcomes throughout the entire process, from initial lead to customer advocacy. At every turn, trust is essential. To set yourself up for positive customer interactions throughout the buying journey, establish credibility to diminish the trust deficit and find every way to offer value to your customer.

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