Published on Oct 2, 2020
There are certain professions that people are inherently wary of. Car salesmen, real estate agents, and lawyers are just a few that come to mind.
But it turns out that there’s also a growing distrust of salespeople these days. One study found that just 32% of buyers view sales as a “trustworthy profession,” while another study says only a paltry 3% consider salespeople to be trustworthy.
Whatever data you go by, there’s clearly a negative perception of salespeople and something they need to overcome. So, how exactly can they go about that?
It’s simple. Assume the role of a “trusted advisor.”
We live in a new era where people are more empowered than ever when it comes to making purchases — something that’s largely due to the internet. Having access to an unending supply of information where buyers can search for literally anything in seconds means they’re highly informed.
Or as Gigi Peccolo, Content Manager of conversational AI platform OneReach, puts it, “The information gap between companies and customers is slowly being closed as the empowered learn what they’re capable of. It’s no longer a monopoly, it’s a duopoly, and it’s shifting in customers’ favor.”
This means most people have very little patience for fast talking, back slapping salespeople trying to separate them from their money. And if they sense the least bit of dishonesty or sleaziness, they’re quick to walk away and look elsewhere. That’s especially true for B2B buyers who often have a strong familiarity with inside sales tactics that your average consumer does not.
And this collective distrust of salespeople is a big problem. Without a basic sense of trust, you can’t even expect B2B buyers to listen to a sales pitch, let alone make a major purchase that could potentially make or break their company. No matter how rock solid your sales funnel is, it’s going to be an uphill battle if you can’t close the trust gap.
The key to doing this is to modify your approach where instead of your team taking the role of traditional salespeople, they instead strive to be trusted advisors. Considering that 88% of people are only willing to buy when they view a salesperson as a trusted advisor, this can be your ticket to not just getting immediate sales, but paving the way for repeat business as well as referrals.
In fact, “79% of business buyers say it’s absolutely critical or very important to interact with a salesperson who is a trusted advisor — not just a sales rep — who adds value to their business.”
For starters, it requires that your sales team collectively adopts a different mindset than what they’re probably used to in terms of interacting with buyers. And the key to doing that is having your salespeople treat it like they’re merely helping leads find the right solution and supplying them with information to make an informed choice rather than straight up “selling.”
Sean Callahan, Senior Manager of Content Marketing at LinkedIn, says it well with this quote. “People need to feel like they’re making an informed decision about a purchase without background sales pressure. Don’t think of it as selling: think of it as providing the information, benefits, and value so the customer can sell themselves.”
In other words, it’s about shifting from sales to solutions. That should be the initial catalyst for making the transition.
Next, your salespeople need to focus on developing the core qualities that B2B are seeking.
Finally, there’s a particular problem solving process that Nick Frank, Managing Partner at Si2 Partners outlines that is helpful for achieving the role of trusted advisor.
It involves six steps, which break down as follows:
It’s all about identifying what each individual buyer’s unique pain point is, figuring out what’s causing the problem, and determining what specific product your company offers that can solve it. From there, it’s a matter of implementing the solution and maintaining close contact afterward to ensure everything goes smoothly and addressing any issues that may arise.
It’s not about shoving some random product down a buyer’s throat and leaving them on their own after that. Rather, a salesperson should act as a buyer’s own personal advisor who sticks with them every step of the way.
We’re living in a new age where old school, and quite frankly raunchy sales tactics that are ultra aggressive no longer cut it. The vast majority of B2B buyers are not only unreceptive to this type of approach, they’re completely turned off of it. And most can sniff out any sleaziness from a mile away.
But what they are receptive to is dealing with salespeople who they view as trusted advisors. Helping your sales team transition to this role is critical moving forward and can be instrumental in converting more leads and generating bigger profits.
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