With the continuing move toward online selling and Internet marketing, lately I've been receiving many newsletters referencing "building trust." What is trust? Why is it important? Moreover, if it's that important, how do I get it?
Tons of business books suggest that building relationships with your customer both offline and online is important. But what constitutes a business relationship? Do I have to like people and be their friend before they'll buy from me?
These questions are crucial to all sizes of business and all types of sales, whether you're selling a product or service, selling directly or via the Web. But entrepreneurs who don't yet have brand name recognition within their market face a few unique challenges.
Challenge #1: Before you sell your product or service, you have to sell you. Long ago, salespeople subscribed to a concept of multiple tiny purchases called the "series of decisions" sales model. They were taught to get minor commitments throughout the sales process that edged the prospect closer and closer to a purchase decision. Today, if the prospect doesn't know who you are and what you represent, a salesperson may never get the chance to ask for any kind of commitment. The first job is to earn the right to communicate with a potential customer.
Challenge #2: Your prospect's time is limited. Starting out any new relationship is hard. Starting out without a proven name or brand behind you is close to impossible. Look at your e-mail inbox this morning. There's a constant and never-ending flow of requests for your time . from sources you've never heard of.
Things don't get any better away from the office. We all have hectic schedules that place huge demands on our attention and limit the amount of energy and interest we give each other.
Challenge #3: Everyone wants guaranteed results. Relationships are successful because both parties are comfortable with the expected outcome. When someone buys from companies like Dell, IBM, Nike, Taco Bell, Hertz, Budget and so on, they already know what they're getting before they agree to purchase. They've been conditioned over time. We know that "if it absolutely has to be there," we're going to call Fed Ex.
If you and I expect a guarantee of service from the people with whom we do business, it stands to reason that the people you sell to would expect the same. How do they know what you'll actually provide in the way of service? Is your product going to do what you say it will? For a small business or service provider, it's sometimes tough to make these claims.