Updated: Sep 21, 2019
According to Pardot (a subsidiary of Salesforce) 70% of the buyer’s journey is complete before a customer even speaks with someone in sales. This means before you have picked up the phone to make your first prospecting call customers have already made 70% of the decision who they will be doing business with.
Why is this significant?
Because if you aren’t a part of the conversation at the beginning of their search for solutions to their problems, you will have minimal effect in convincing customers to do business with you over your competitors.
This means a loss in sales, profits, and possibly market share.
This conversation and trust has to be solidified at the beginning of the buyer’s journey, not in the middle or towards the end. This is where increasing your brand trust throughout that journey plays an important role.
Why Increasing Brand Trust Is Important Today
If you’re selling a product or service, you should know about the Know-Like-Trust factor. It is the systematic process a potential customer goes through from not knowing about your brand and offering to becoming a paying customer.
The challenge is with the advancement of technology customers are more informed and competition has increased. Therefore, it has become even more challenging to establish and increase brand trust with them.
5 Reasons to Increase Brand Trust
1. Competition is fiercer than ever
Due to the internet it is easier than ever for anyone to start a business, even within the B2B space, once that person has the qualifications and know-how to make it happen. Gone are the days where one would need to lease property, buy a lot of equipment, and hire staff to sit in the daily operations of business to make it work.
With outsourcing sites such as Upwork and Fiverr you no longer need to hire staff and worry about making salary each month. If you need an Accountant, Marketer, or Operations Specialist to get the job done you can find them on these freelancing sites.
2. Technology has globalized and commoditized business
As mentioned, today the barrier to entry is low due to the internet. However, technology has also globalized business. No longer is your competitor on the same street or city as you. They are no longer local to your territory or business, or regional. As a matter of fact, they are no longer in your industry.
Amazon is a company that started out in the B2C space retailing books online. Now they have grown into a threat to even B2B companies. Moving into the banking space, and providing cloud solutions for B2B companies through their AWS services.
Consequently, with the barrier to entry being so low it inevitably means anyone can copy your offering and present it to the market as innovation. This is where increasing brand trust gives you the competitive advantage, by positioning you as the unique and best fit solution for your customers in a way that resonates with them.
3. Customers have become resistant to selling
In the pre-digital era consumers were informed on products and services through radio, television, and newspaper ads. This limited the number of ads shown as there was limited access to programming and information.
However, today information is everywhere at our fingertips, and so are ads. Due to the ease with which ads can be mass produced, particularly on Social Media, companies tend to flood their target audience with ads with the hopes of them buying. This has created a mental block and desensitized consumers to ads focused on selling, and anything with a “Buy Now” messaging.
This is why Demand Metric states 86% of people skip TV ads. This means 86% of your target audience has chosen not to see your ads.
4. Customers are in control of the sales process
Following up on the previous point about access to information being limited. In the pre-digital age companies and salespeople were in control of providing potential customers with information. There was no internet to do a search to find out more about a company or their products and services.
Fast forward today the company and salespeople are no longer in control of the entire sales process, the buyer is. Now the buyer can do a search online, and depending on if they are pleased or displeased with what they see from content, customer reviews and testimonials will determine whether or not they choose to do business with you.
5. Customer turnover decreases
The final reason why it is important to increase brand trust is because it is directly proportional to your retention numbers. In other words, the more trust you have with customers, the less likely it is that they will leave, even if a competitor with a better offering enters the market.
This is also significant to save and reduce costs as acquiring a new customer can cost five times more than retaining an existing customer. Additionally, increasing customer retention by 5% can increase profits from 25-95%.
Increasing Brand Trust with Content Marketing in 5 Ways
Content Marketing is a great way to increase brand trust. It’s simply creating and distributing content to a targeted audience with the intention of building that trust over time and having your audience ultimately become paying customers.
This is accomplished when a brand provides content that is focused on helping their audience overcome challenges, teach them something, or is entertaining and engaging. As such, the audience feels the brand has their best interest at heart because they’re not only trying to sell them something, hence trust is built over time. It is the reason why 82% of consumers feel more positive about a company after reading custom content.
In my post on the 4 Types of Content I mention that there are four content types that are used for different purposes. I used the acronym P.O.S.T. (Professor Opinion Sales Trigger) to describe them. Here I am talking about Professor content.
Professor content focuses on educating your audience on solutions to their challenges. Therefore, if my challenge as an audience is how can I increase revenues for my business, the Professor content would be practical ways to help me do that.
By using Professor content it not only helps to position you as an authority in your space, but it also builds and increases brand trust with said audience because they see you as someone who is credible and knowledge in your area, and that they can go to for advice and solutions to their needs.
Probably the best and easiest way to increase brand trust is through UGC or user-generated content. UGC is content that is created by your audience as shared with your community. This means if I am running a promotion on Instagram I would ask my audience to take a picture and share their story, then I would create content around that story and share it with the community.
The reason why this is so powerful is because of two reasons:
It is coming from the perspective of your audience so it is more relevant (like minds)
It becomes more relatable to your community as they see someone like them sharing a story they can relate to
In 2018 a team of us did this for a promotional campaign on Instagram. We identified people who were the most engaged on the page and asked them to send us a photo of themselves and why they were entering the promotion. Then we created a graphic design with the label “Super Fan”, and shared it on the page for everyone to see. As a result, we saw an increase of over 300% in followers and 200% in engagement almost overnight.
Video Testimonial Content
Testimonials in and of themselves are a great way to build brand trust. It resonates with potential customers as they can relate to it. It is why Pardot identified customer testimonials as the most effective tactic by 89% of B2B marketers.
Video testimonials are better than text or imagery is because people connect more with video as they see a representation of who they are, and what can be possible for them (“If it works for them then it can work for me”). It is also the reason why Quick Sprout mentions that visitors to their testimonial page are 218% more likely to convert into a lead, and those leads are 190% more likely to convert into a paid customer.
Customer Review Content
This is a great way to build and increase brand trust, as the saying goes word-of-mouth is the most powerful form of marketing. According to a research conducted by G2 Crowd and Heinz Marketing 92.4% of B2B buyers said they are more likely to purchase from a company once they have read a positive review about them. This correlates to why 68.6% of B2B Marketing teams rated them as an effective and valuable part of their B2B marketing mix.
Furthermore, potential customers are more likely to trust what other customers say about a brand or its offering, rather than if it were coming from the company itself. In other words, “When you say it, it's marketing. When your customer says it, it's social proof”.
Exceptional After Sales Support
Most B2B businesses never consider this once the sale has been done. Increasing brand trust doesn’t end once a prospect becomes a customer, it continues long after the transaction. Remember just because a prospect has become a customer it doesn’t mean they don’t have doubts as to whether or not your company was the best choice for them.
Having an after sales support in place not only builds trust, but creates referrals which means increase in revenue for you. A brand that is really great at this is Thrive Themes, a B2B company offering a suite of website building tools to help businesses grow. They have an onboarding video welcoming you once you sign up for their platform, and how to maximize their SaaS product through video tutorials.
Using Brand Trust to Drive B2B Sales
Now that we have gone through why you should increase brand trust and ways to do so, let’s break down how it actually helps to drive B2B sales for your business or company.
To illustrate how establishing this trust can drive B2B sales let’s walkthrough the actual sales process from prospecting to closing a sale, and beyond.
Prospecting- typically this involves a lot of cold calls or cold emails, networking, or even using Social Media to identify suspects that can be qualified as prospects. The challenge is when you have no established brand or trust with potential customers, even getting someone to pay attention to what you’re selling is a challenge.
However, if you have a brand that has already established trust, then this removes the defense mechanisms and walls a prospect will have when approached for the first time. They will be more comfortable to open up and hear what you have to say.
Lead generation- in a B2B environment leads are generated using an outbound sales approach such as mentioned above. The challenge is outbound methods take a lot of time and effort and resources to achieve. Additionally, with the Law of Averages, you end up having to talk to more people to achieve your lead generation numbers.
By increasing brand trust potential customers come to you because your brand trust positions you as the go to business to meet their needs. This means less time and resources chasing leads because they have self-qualified and are already considering you as their potential vendor.
Higher quality leads- generating leads is one thing, but generating leads that are considered high revenue potential that has the highest chance of closing is another. With little to no brand trust it becomes difficult to attract top tier customers who would want to do business with you.
However, with it top tier customers are more than willing to do business with you over your competitors because they trust that you can deliver on what your brand promises.
Decreased sales cycle- B2B sales isn’t as simple and straightforward as B2C, there are many nuances to consider. Gate keepers, influencers, and decision makers that you need to appease and convince before your offering is even considered. Getting through the procurement process for payment. Even something as simple as a change in leadership can cause significant delays in closing a sale.
What increasing brand trust helps you to do is to get the right people making quicker decision to buy during the lead nurturing process. In other words, establishing and increasing trust is the difference between your potential customer prioritizing other more immediate tasks (and competing vendors) over your sale, or advocating on your behalf to leadership to push through your project to close the deal as quickly as possible. As a byproduct it also lowers your customer acquisition costs.
Higher conversions- along with generating higher quality leads and the sales cycle being reduced, another benefit to driving B2B sales with increased brand trust is higher conversion rates. Therefore, it takes less leads to hit your revenue goals.
Consequently, let’s say in order to close a single deal you need to talk to 20 leads, with trust it will end up taking you half that number to close a single deal. It’s increasing your conversion rate from 5% to 10%.
Referral business- as mentioned above with having an exceptional after sales support, increasing brand trust also drives referral business. This means more inbound leads without you having to lift a finger to make it happen.
Referral business is great because they have the highest likelihood of closing and closing quicker than a cold or warm lead. Because of the trust established with existing and previous customers, they would have already validated your business to others who they speak to, which eliminates the need for you to do so.
Increased customer lifetime value- finally, if you’re in B2B sales the assumption is that you want to have lifetime customers versus one-off purchases. This ensures that you do not have a constant need to get new customers to generate more revenue to grow your business. However, by increasing your brand trust over time it also increases the lifetime value of each customer.
When a customer makes the first purchase they do so with doubt, unsure if they can completely trust that you will deliver. However, once you are able to deliver that trust increases. As a result, it creates many cross-sell and upsell opportunities for you as the customer is now willing to spend more for your upgrades to existing offerings.
Additionally, they will pay higher prices for new offerings that complements existing ones already purchased from you. In simple terms starting out customers will spend minimally, as brand trust increases so does the size of their spend.
My Final Thoughts
In today’s very busy, very digital, and limited attention span world increasing brand trust is an absolute imperative. It is no longer an option, it is the only option and rite of passage to doing business, especially in a B2B environment.
As the reasons given states companies who fail to increase brand trust risk being pushed out of the market by competitors (not just locally but globally). Furthermore, customers have become immune to push marketing and sales tactics, they want to do business with companies they know like and trust. If you are unable to do that, then I fear it is only a matter of time until you go out of business.