Think about the consequences of a failed IT solutions project.
Budgets are exceeded. Time is wasted. Employees’ lives are disrupted.
So it’s no wonder that companies want to work with IT solutions businesses they feel they can trust. Indeed, buyers are now placing greater emphasis on building trusting relationships with vendors than they are on factors like low price, service quality, and innovation.
This chimes with the findings of our recent conversations with a panel of sales, marketing, and retention leaders within our industry, in which trust was frequently highlighted as a key differentiator for IT solutions businesses.
Consider the following comments from those discussions:
“The client needs to trust the partner, believe that they can deliver quality, and that the commercials deliver value – that doesn’t always mean cheapest, but true value over the total cost of ownership.”
“When it comes to choosing one IT firm over another, the feeling of trust you get from the first initial meeting – including the look and feel of their offices – may all play a part in the decision-making process.”
“Price, reputation, and expertise are all important factors. Keeping your reputation strong; with superior product offerings; [and] your prices competitive against your cost of sales and the price offered by the competition; will all influence your position in the marketplace.”
Clearly, forging trusted relationships and building a stronger reputation can make a big difference to IT solutions businesses in their efforts to win new clients and retain existing ones. In this article, we’ll discuss how to do it.
Understanding Customer Needs, Issues & Challenges
Imagine you speak to two people at a networking event:
- One spends the whole time telling you about their achievements, experience, knowledge, and vast skill set
- The other takes the time to ask you questions and strike up a genuine, two-way conversation, allowing them to share information they know will be of value to you
Which one do you think comes across as more trustworthy? Most of us would choose person two. Sure, the first person might have fantastic credentials, but they didn’t show any interest in you.
The same principle applies when building your own brand. Don’t spend your whole time telling prospects how trustworthy you are and how great your reputation is; show them that you’re trustworthy by engaging with them as a real person.
That might seem obvious. But it’s all too common for businesses to assume that they’re the “main character” in the sales process – that all conversations should be focused on them and the things they do.
In reality, that’s simply not the case. The true “main character” is the customer, and it’s your job to fully comprehend things like:
- Their short, medium, and long-term goals
- Their biggest business challenges
- The immediate issues that keep them awake at night
Once you’ve got a clear understanding of those factors, you can start to discuss the service you offer in the context of making their life easier and helping them achieve their objectives.
Build Transparency Into All Communications
A lot of communication goes into closing a deal with a new client. Indeed, it’s widely believed that it takes six to eight touchpoints to generate a viable sales lead. Of course, there are dozens – or hundreds, or thousands – more touchpoints once a prospect signs on the dotted line and becomes a client.
When it comes to building trust, it’s vital that each of those communications is open and honest. If your prospects or existing customers believe you’re not being transparent, they’re not going to trust you (and they probably won’t want to work with you in future, either).
Naturally, there will be times when it seems easier or smarter to hide the truth and paint the best possible picture of your business. A prospect might ask about a previous project that didn’t go so well for you. An existing customer might want to know why their project is behind schedule.
In these cases, it’s always best to own your mistakes. Research shows that simply apologising to unhappy customers is more effective than offering financial compensation. Why? Because accepting responsibility, rather than trying to hide the truth or shift the blame, demonstrates that you can be trusted.
Demonstrating Social Proof
Social proof is one of the most powerful weapons in your arsenal for demonstrating and building trust with prospects and clients.
In short, the term “social proof” refers to the idea that people tend to accept and go along with the actions or opinions of friends, family, colleagues, or peers who they trust. For instance, 83% of customers say that a word-of-mouth recommendation from a loved one would make them more likely to purchase a product or service.
So how can you leverage the power of social proof?
As with the other guidance in this article, it’s not about telling people that you can be trusted. Instead, it’s about what other people think of you. Third-party references to your business – particularly those made on digital platforms – can be used to help spread the word about your reputation and service quality. Potential strategies include:
- Displaying accreditations: Things like professional certifications, industry awards, and proofs of compliance can act as a “badge of trust” that enhances your reputation and credibility. Display them prominently in relevant parts of your website and in sales collateral, and possibly also in email signatures and on social profiles.
- Highlighting brand mentions: Are people saying good things about your brand online? Naturally, you might want to use those comments in testimonials and case studies. But make sure you link to the original conversation – whether it’s on a social platform, or a review site, or an industry forum – to add legitimacy and authenticity, and to give the reader additional context.
- Demonstrate business credentials: Remember that social proof works because people generally like to follow the crowd. You can tap into this by demonstrating your business credentials. For instance, tell people how many companies you work with, or how many projects you’ve delivered, or how many years of experience you have in IT solutions.
Conclusion: Trust Starts Within Your Business
You can’t expect to build trust with potential and existing customers if you don’t trust the people within your team.
You need to have complete faith in their ability to take on a project, however challenging, and do everything within their power to deliver it successfully.
That’s where we come in.
At ECS Resource Group, we can help you find the very best IT talent, from support, implementation, and integration, to development, project management, and leadership. Get in touch to see how we can help you.