In our never-ending quest as sales pros, we’re constantly seeking how to shorten sales cycles, drive revenue, and win more deals. This is especially true in the enterprise sales process where relationships and referrals drive the long-term, career-building success as a rep. This is especially important in more niche or legacy-based industries like mine (maritime shipping & logistics).
How do we build that trust in the first place?
Below is a framework I use for building trust with my clients.
Start with authenticity
Be genuine: Have a genuine interest in, and understanding of, your prospect’s day-to-day on a professional and personal level (when appropriate). Know what’s important to them, current relevant events, and interests that generally lead to an early level of comfortability that can transition into the next phase of trust-building.
People can tell when you’re bullshitting them. If you don’t care about your clients, then an enterprise sales role isn’t for you.
Be consistent: This is where small talk adds up over time - on qualification calls, demos, on follow-ups, via email, or text, you can show a deeper interest and care for your buyer by providing the same level of enthusiasm and energy each time you interact. When your buyer speaks with you, they should know what they’re going to get.
Be prepared: Take 10 minutes before the call to search for relevant news articles about your buyer’s organization, department, region, etc. It can be anything that caught your eye that likely could have impacted your prospect’s well-being.
For example: “I heard about the recent cyclone in the area - how are you and your family?” “I saw that your organization started an innovation department - do you get to interact with that team?” “I read about the new port facility you recently acquired - when do you guys plan to break ground?”
Be diligent: Establish yourself as a thought leader and demonstrate in-depth professional knowledge as it applies to the buyer. Show them that you are someone that can be trusted and that will follow through on what you say are going to do.
Show up prepared, on time, and with the requested information on hand before the next conversation. Make commitments to one another to enhance the probability of the deal successfully closing.
Be informative: Recap the call and follow-up with additional requested information while your conversation with the buyer is still fresh in their mind.
Log everything in your CRM and immediately send a follow-up email with requested materials while the notes you took are still fresh in your mind. Add 10-15 minutes in your calendar at the end of the call to get this done.
Be realistic: No one organization or solution is perfect for a client. Sharing this information may be critical to winning a deal. If you are open and transparent with the buyer, in-turn they will become more open and transparent with you.
Be thorough: Just because the deal is done, does not mean the relationship is not over. Even if your organization has its own customer success team and hand-off protocols, follow through and check-in after your client's kickoff.
A happy customer is one of the major indicators of the success of your organization and your product so going above and beyond to maintain your client relationship is well worth the effort.
Be thoughtful: Check-in every few months. Ask how things are going with the rollout. If any issues arise, step up, intervene and enlighten both parties that something isn’t going according to plan and offer possible solutions.
Subscribe to your customer success colleague’s calendar. Glance at it from time to time and get a feel for what’s happening with all of your different clients. Add reminders to your calendar on a recurring basis; even a quick email asking how things are going can mean a lot to your client.
Be everywhere: The deeper the relationship, especially beyond the initial sale, the more likely you will stay top of mind with your buyer. And the more you remain top of mind, the greater the likelihood that your client is going to support you and maybe even give you a referral.
Often, and especially in niche industries, buyers are highly connected to one another and regularly see each other at conferences and other industry events. Reach out to clients before events that you’ll either be attending or you think might interest them. Set up 10-minute catch-ups at events to maintain a face-to-face relationship.
Make the ask
If you set the expectation early on that you’ll be asking for feedback or a referral later in the sales cycle and your product has performed in-line with the expectations set then you’ve earned the right to capitalize on those trust dividends.
If you’ve been authentic, earned credibility, and stayed top-of-mind, then most clients should be happy to extend goodwill through a referral or testimonial. This may strengthen your relationship with the buyer even further!
Build trust with this proven, consistent framework, and you’ll turn your client list into your best business-building tool.