Growing net-new business requires trust. We need potential clients to give us the benefit of the doubt to take a chance with our business. This requires trust.

Here’s the challenge: trust is at an all-time low. We are doing business in a post-trust world.

For the first time in 17 years the Edelman Trust Barometer found a decline in trust across the institutions of business, media, government, and NGO’s. “In almost two-thirds of the 28 countries we surveyed, the general population did not trust the four institutions to “do what is right” — the average level of trust in all four institutions combined was below 50%.”

Sales professionals and marketers face a crisis of trust:

  • Only 3% of people consider sales reps to be trustworthy (HubSpot research)
  • Just 52% of respondents to our survey said they trust business to do what is right (Edelman)

Without trust, it’s nearly impossible to grow net-new business. So what can you do to build trust?

If it were a current client, you could build trust by following through on what you said you do. But what do you do to build trust with a prospect? Here are a few ideas:

Use Case Studies

When I started my career in sales in 1993 I carried around a box of brochures. These days, sales reps should carry around a folder of case studies. Today’s buyer’s don’t trust marketing hype. Besides, most brochures and websites are full of useless adjectives and annoying acronyms.

Instead of brochures, why not create real-world case studies that show how your clients have used your products to solve problems. After all, people don’t buy products, they buy outcomes. (Tip of the hat to Keenan for a great article today on this topic!)

Marketing professionals: The best thing you could do to support your sales team would be to write one case study a week and film one video case study each month. You should have at least one case study for every problem you solve in each vertical market segment. Imagine what could happen if your sales team could walk into a prospect with three real-world examples of how you helped similar companies solve problems.

(Need ideas on how to write case studies? Check out this helpful article.)

Sales professionals: Your job is to share verbal case studies. You should have a library of real-world stories that you can tell to reinforce your point. One of the best things sales teams can do is use their meetings to share stories of how they have solved business problems. This cross pollination of stories equips your entire team with ideas to share.

Make Sure To Have Current References and Reviews

Skeptical buyers check reviews. Businesses need to have a lot of current reviews. Unfortunately, most local businesses in the technology space that I serve only have a handful of reviews. This hurts credibility and erodes trust. Make sure to actively manage your online reviews. It is hard work to get reviews, but they are worth the effort.

Sales professionals must have character references on their LinkedIn profiles. You need other local buyers endorsing your credibility. How do you get reviews? Simple. Give out some reviews and most people will reciprocate.

Share Credible Insights

Another way to boost credibility is by sharing helpful information. Buyers are looking for ideas. Recent research presented in Forbes showed that 33% of millennials rely mostly on blogs before they make a purchase.

Buyers are looking for information online. When they find your website, do they find helpful information or do they just find a slick online brochure? Recently, one of our clients in a midwest state had a prospect that consumed 57 blog articles on their website before reaching out to request an appointment. After the deal went down for several color multifunction systems the dealer learned that the decision maker had delegated the process of research to a younger employee. Fortunately, the dealer had the foresight to invest in their online presence.

Sales reps have a part to play in this as well. When buyers go to LinkedIn to vet you, what do they find? Is your LinkedIn profile blank or is it full of helpful information? Do you look like someone who could add value or are you just an empty suit?

Look Credible

In addition to case studies, reviews, and helpful information, you need to look credible. This sounds counterintuitive in a world where we’ve said that people don’t trust fake things. Whether you like it or not, buyers form an opinion of your credibility based on your branding. If your logo was made in Microsoft Publisher and your website looks like it hasn’t been updated in 3 years, you hurt your credibility. First impressions matter online. We tend not to trust outdated brands just like we wouldn’t trust a retail business that had dirty windows, un-mowed grass, and trash in the parking lot.

What Will You Do?

The way you deal with the issue of low trust will determine your success in the post-trust era. Overcoming the drag of a post-trust world takes work. Marketers, will you put forth the effort to create case studies, get reviews, and share substantive information? Sales reps, what will you do to boost trust with prospects?

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