Trust and reputation are the building blocks of successful business relationships. Whether online or in-person, it’s essential to deploy strategies that help instill a sense of confidence in the product or service you provide. Since there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to building trust, companies should know their potential customer and what will work best to build a positive reputation.
While the exact strategies to build trust and a positive reputation may be unique from business to business, there are some common techniques that can be deployed to help either B2B or B2C firms.
The key to finding what works well for your company is ensuring you know your customer base’s background and what they’re looking for. Your goal as a marketing or sales leader is to provide a solution, so help them understand what their problem is, then recommend how your unique approach and experience is the right choice!
Building Trust and Reputation: A Discussion with MoreSALES’ President and Founder
Watch MoreSALES’ President and Founder, Mike Jennings, discuss how most B2B and B2C businesses should approach marketing and sales to enhance trust and reputation.
This video, co-hosted by Portage M&A Advisory, is part of a 7-part series uncovering how businesses can enhance their marketing and sales processes.
How B2B Organizations can Build Trust
Authority is the basis of a trusted B2B relationship. To build a strong reputation, your B2B organization needs to establish itself as an expert and associate with other credible businesses. This is most commonly done through:
- LinkedIn Profiles
- Industry Accreditations
- Association Memberships
- Customer Pedigree
- Professionalism, Experience and Expertise
When evaluating B2B purchase decisions online, potential customers often run a quick LinkedIn search to learn more about the head of the organization or the salesperson they’re working with. B2B customers will often take your marketing or sales pitch into account along with the background of skills or experience a person has before proceeding to the purchase decision.
While accreditations may vary from industry-to-industry, these can help to easily identify proactive leaders from less ambitious followers. For example, in manufacturing, ISO-9001 standards help to measure and separate those organizations who’ve received training and gone through practical exercises from those who haven’t. Each accreditation brings its own set of implications to the way a company operates, and potential customers will want to see which ones you have to speed their consideration process.
Associations can be industry-driven, such as manufacturing associations, but may also look at common business traits, like companies who are exporters. These associations are a valuable networking tool since associations often operate facilitate partnership opportunities and establish a collective voice. When sourcing suppliers, some companies may only choose to trust and do work with businesses who are a member of certain associations, so make sure your organization applies to be part of these types of groups.
Aligning your work to a few well-known, large customers can be much more helpful in building trust than saying that your company has worked with/for many small, relatively unknown firms. The reason for this is that large, perhaps multi-national companies have a robust process for identifying and selecting vendors. Small firms considering working with your company will look to the decision some of these large players have made in the past and say “if these firms trusted them, so should I”.
Customer pedigree doesn’t always need to be about the biggest or most reputable customers though. Smaller, local experts may be your strongest advocates, especially if you can get them to provide a video testimonial where they explain the decision process taken and why they ultimately love working with you.
Professionalism, Experience and Expertise
Finally, trust is most easily built when B2B companies display competency, consistency and character. These three C’s of trust are fundamental when selling professional products or services to organizations that take a very practical approach to decision-making. If your business can be innovative, focused in its offerings, and follows-up with a personal approach, it’s much easier to build momentum and close more leads into new customers.
How B2C Organizations can Build Trust
For B2C businesses, popularity and social proof are fundamental to long-term trusted relationships. Not only is it easier to attract new customers, but it can help remind existing ones why they chose you in the first place. Provide unique, fresh content through your channels and don’t forget to focus on:
- Social Media Followers
- YouTube Subscribers
- Online Reviews and Ratings
- Network Referrals
- Value vs. Virtue
Social Media Followers
While B2B relationships are cultivated online primarily through LinkedIn, B2C relationships need to focus on many more channels – with particular focus on which platforms are most commonly used by your ideal customer. For some companies, it makes most sense to be active on Twitter, for others Facebook and Instagram, and others may be best suited for Pinterest. Other newcomers on the scene, including TikTok should always be considered for audience relevance, since the next up-and-coming social platform could be a great source of new leads.
It all comes down to creatively engaging with your audience in a meaningful way – the followers come naturally when you’re creating content of value!
While YouTube has found its own niche in video content, it could still be considered a social media platform. B2C companies can build incredible communities through YouTube that see your brand and its products/services and can comment or ‘like’ it in mass numbers. Not only do B2C companies leverage this type of attention to help sell its own products or services, but the advertising revenue that can result could be quite lucrative. Never miss an opportunity to get your YouTube channel a new subscriber!
Online Reviews and Ratings
Ratings are a massive influential factor when it comes to consumer-based purchase decisions. Customers want to know that other people who’ve put their money on the line have had a good interaction and would consider purchasing again. Whether on social media or on search engines (Google My Business), your business is getting reviewed and commented on; be sure you’re available to follow-up on both positive and negative comments to help build transparency and trust!
Network referrals often come through word-of-mouth when two or more people talk about products or services that have yielded great results. As opposed to online reviews and ratings, network referrals hold more value because it’s often an influential person within the customer’s network that’s promoting a solution. That referral holds a lot of value since a member of your network may generally think or act more similarly to how you would. Their recommendation is weighted much more than the review of an anonymous customer online.
Trust and reputation are heavily influenced by advertising and other awareness-based marketing or sales campaigns. These are designed to reach as many potential customers as possible and, even if it’s not the right time to buy, keep that name or feeling alive within the target audience. Keeping awareness high through advertising and social media marketing campaigns will help your brand stay a focus on the minds of your customers and prospects.
Value vs. Virtue
If value is the ultimate “what’s paid vs. what’s received” calculation, that’s ultimately what’s most important in B2C relationships. The customer is almost always more concerned about what’s provided to them than the process or the experience behind them receiving it. On the other hand, virtue is much more about who you’re working with and enjoying the process behind the relationship. Virtue is much more important in ongoing B2B relationships, but is less important in consumer-based industries.
Establish Trust and Build Your Reputation: Additional Tactics
While building trust and growing your reputation are the foundation of an effective sales and customer retention strategy, they aren’t the only considerations a potential customer has. Ensure your organization is built to continuously generate and follow-up with sales opportunities by deploying these frugal tactics.