I was in a workshop recently and a vendor who is launching a speaking business asked “how do I gain customers’ trust?” Actually, he asked “how do I prove my value?”
Improving your value is how you boost sales.
I rattled off a couple of things but took a moment to write down notes of how to gain customers’ trust by reviewing the following “assets” a company may have.
This article is related to just about any type of business, but I wrote it for those building their Proposal Toolkit to grow their business with larger projects/contracts.
Your relationship with a stranger starts with the first image. Regardless of where they are seeing you, a post on a #socialmedia platform or your website, it’s that first imagery that they see and react to. Since there are so many images that we create to tell our stories, the main thing to look for is something to pull people’s curiosity or relatability.
Do you have a website? There are still so many businesses that do not have a website and that’s usually the first place that a prospective customer will go to start building a relationship with you.
What information do you have on your site? If you don’t have a site and you want to create one, it’s really easy. You can create one pagers that can include some of your business’ basic information.
Examples of sites are wix.com, squarespace.com, and milkshake.com. I don’t recommend using your Company Page or profile on a social platform as your main website, because you want to be able to control your narrative and not leave it up to algorithm changes.
Answers for Prospects
If you are a vendor going after corporate or government contracts, it is imperative to have a website that answers the questions a potential buyer may have.
Corporate supplier diversity and inclusion teams attend procurement events to find vendors that can add value to their supply chain. They are looking “for vendors that their colleagues have a need for now or in the near future”.
You can make it really easy for them to refer you to their colleagues by having one place that answers the questions they may have. Do you currently have these on your site: company overview, certifications, past clients, Capabilities Statement, etc.
If you want to know how to create your own strong Capabilities Statement, access a free tutorial here.
Social platforms are the preeminent way to build #customerrelationships even before they are a customer. Think about what you look at when you go to someone’s page. I know I do the quick 5 seconds skim to see what types of images they have, how many followers they have, and check one or two posts to see what their style is about.
Content posting 101 is all about adding value to others. Give them a reason to tune into you on an ongoing basis, because you’re sharing information that’s either entertaining or informative.
Take a moment right now to think about the top three people that you follow. What is it that caught your attention in their profiles? Can you replicate this for your site or your social platforms? These are some questions you need to reflect on and apply on when building trust with customers.
Name dropping is the way of the world, but it has to be legitimate. Corporate customers don’t want to be your first test case, generally speaking. Especially large corporations where the person that says yes to a vendor is responsible for the outcomes from that vendor.
So who’s on your list? Who are your satisfied customers? You can list the companies or projects you have worked for on your website or your #CapabilitiesStatement. You can give shoutouts to your clients via social platforms to say thank you. Caveat though. Some corporations have language in their contracts where you can’t mention them at all or use their logo in any of your promotional material. Be mindful of these as well.
Video #testimonials and videos from your customers mean so much in getting customers to trust you. I’m getting into the habit of asking customers and collaborators to publicly share the compliments they give me for my guided approach.
You can take those recorded videos and transcribe them with apps such as Otter and Designrr so in that way you can then repurpose them. You could send the transcribed “testimonial” back to the person who gave it to you and ask them to post it as a recommendation on LinkedIn. Note to self: I have to remember to do this. My recommendation list is sparse.
These are all ways to gain customer trust and to increase your visibility:
Did you know that more corporations are blocking public email domains such as Yahoo, Hotmail, and Gmail? You could be reaching out to a prospect who never receives the email you sent if you don’t use your company’s domain address in your email. This is definitely something to pay attention to, because so many supply inclusion professionals I’ve talked to, put this on their “common mistakes that vendors make” list.
Linkedin.com is a starting place for business to business (b2b) relationships. The platform keeps collecting more information about you. The platform continues to evolve to showcase so many different aspects of their users. It started out with the basics: Contact information, professional/volunteer experience, education, group affiliation and recommendations. Now, if you look at it, you are able to view a user’s activities, followers, videos, articles, etc. If you need help with improving your #LinkedIn profile, there are so many consultants out there. Jennifer Darling is one that comes to mind right now. Check out her website.
For the most part we have been talking about building relationships with prospects, but as the saying goes, “it is so much easier to sell to your existing customers rather than acquire a new one.” #CustomerSatisfaction will definitely boost your sales. How do you measure customer satisfaction? Is it via customer reviews, customer surveys, customer referrals, loyalty programs, etc.
I have been traveling a lot recently and it seems there is a trail of surveys I’ve received based on what I’ve seen and what I’ve done, especially with the hotels. Even in the airports, you can rate the quality of the restrooms with the green, yellow, and red emoticon buttons on your way out. How do you evaluate the customer experience and turn that into ways to generate additional revenue?
What tools do you use to ask for #feedback from your customers? Here are a few that I can recommend:
You can incorporate customer reviews or feedback as a marketing strategy by offering incentives to complete one.
Is it me or does it seem that more companies are highlighting the year they were founded? Consumers like to hear the story even if it’s a major corporation that’s been around for over 100 years.
When you are pursuing corporate contracts, there’s still a person who is saying yes who has to relate to you and your company in some way. Gaining a corporate contract is the launch of a collaboration and the parties involved have to enjoy working with each other.
I’ve met business owners who introduce themselves with such a unique captivating story that automatically gets the conversation going.
For years my story was pretty boring. I taught a class and wanted to convert the worksheets I created into something that is easier to follow and that’s how the GUIDED Business Plan™ book came to be. No wonder I struggled.
But what I eventually realized is that my story really is about the vision I had over 10 years ago to create a linear path for an unemployed person to start their business, grow it, and become valuable to a corporate or government contract. Back then I told that to a City Councilor and to someone who worked at SBA at that time, and also wrote it down. This detail is important because I didn’t realize that I was writing a GUIDED Business Plan™ book for each step along that path until I had finished that one for corporate contracting. How cool was that to realize that I had been trusted with this bigger than me platform/voice.
To build customer trust, people like to know what they have in common with you, where you are from, where you went to school, what you like to do, or interest groups you may be involved in. These are all #ConversationStarters. They are connections that will help you and your business succeed in the long run. When and how you share them it’s up to your discretion, but multiplying your growth, vulnerability and relatability are key.
The last point is just to be you. Be authentic. Be truthful. Be direct. As Meta commercials from back in the day highlight, we all have a tribe. Being you will sell more and can make your business more abundant. Becoming a dream fulfilled.
It’s not easy to improve your value, but it is possible. You have to be willing to put in the time and effort, but if you can boost your sales with a little extra work, it’s definitely worth it. And remember, these tips are just a starting point. If you want to learn more or need help boosting your company’s value, join our GUIDED community. We’re here to help you succeed!