Do your customers trust you? If you're in the professional services industry and you answered no to that question, you're in deep trouble. Businesses trust some of their most important issues to professional services firms - legal issues, financial issues and operational issues. If they don't trust you, how can you expect them to outsource their most important business issues to you?
Many professional services businesses overlook the importance of building trust in their marketing process. To successfully grow your professional services business, you need to earn your customer's trust from the first interaction and enhance that trust every time they interact with you. It can take years to build trust, but you can lose it in a matter of minutes.
Here are some ways you can use trust as a foundation of your professional services marketing strategy.
Build trust before you ever meet your customer
The Corporate Executive Board found that the average buyer completes 57% of her sales process before ever contacting a sales person. They're doing pre-purchase research on the internet and on social media sites, so it's important to include trust elements on your website and social media channels. Here are some of the ways you can show potential buyers that you're trustworthy on your website.
- Share customer logos and testimonials. A third-party testimonial from a satisfied customer is an excellent way to being instilling trust into the mind of a potential buyer. Place customer testimonials and logos prominently on your website to build trust.
- Share third-party endorsements and certifications. Do you have credentials that show that you're an expert in your field? Share them on your website. It's a great way to differentiate yourself from competitors without that expertise.
Build trust in your sales process
Your sales process is where you have a great opportunity to build trust. At the same time, the sales process is also where many businesses lose trust with potential buyers. There are many ways you can build trust during the sales process.
- Ask questions to learn if you can help the prospect. Let's face it, not every potential buyers needs or wants what you have to sell. By carefully asking questions to uncover needs, wants, budget and challenges, you can determine if your solution is a good fit. If the prospect is not going to be a good fit or is not ready for your solution, don't try to shove your solution down the prospect's throat. Give them some good advice so that you develop trust. They may not be a good fit now, but could be down the road. By doing what's best for the prospect, you show that you can be trusted with their future business needs.
- Do what you say you're going to do. If you tell someone that you're going to send them an email with an important source of information by a certain time, do it! If you can't do that during the sales process, how can you expect a prospect to trust you if they hire you. Conversely, if you can't do something, tell them. Honesty is always the best policy.
- Take a small project as an opportunity to demonstrate your capabilities. Many times, a potential buyer won't be ready for the full solution you propose, but may be interested in a smaller project. Unless there's a good reason not to, take that assignment and use it as an opportunity to show the quality of your work. There's a good chance that you will be the first choice when they're ready to start that big project.
There's nothing worse from the buyer's perspective than dealing with a selfish salesperson who only care about themselves.
Build trust throughout the service delivery process
For professional service firms, referrals from satisfied customers are the lifeblood of your business. Make sure that the implementation of your service or the delivery of your project deliverables delight the customer. This stage is where you really build an enduring trust with your customer. Don't forget, only people who trust you will refer business to you. Here are some ways to build trust in the early days of your business relationship.
- Don't sell and run. We all have had the same experience at one time or another. That salesperson that was so caring during the sales process disappears before the ink is dry on the contract. Don't be that person! Make sure that your team is delivering on the promises you made during the sales process. Check in frequently with the buyer to make sure nothing is falling through the cracks.
Go the extra mile. If you have a chance, give your new customer a little something extra. Whether it's a free month of service, a discount on additional services or something else that shows you value their business.
As a professional services firm, the trust your customers have in you is one of your most important assets. Don't take it for granted. Make sure everybody at your firm works towards establishing and enhancing trust. Don't forget - you work too hard establishing trust to lose it by taking shortcuts. As one of my first bosses told me, "Don't lie, cheat or steal."