Often business is relationship
critical – How to build trust before gaining the contract.
of Business-to-Business Service Providers: Part 2
The second challenge of business-to-business service providers
we shall look at is - the challenge that gaining business is often
relationship critical. How can the necessary relationship and,
most importantly, trust be built up, before gaining the contract?
In part one we
discussed not having a unique product. As well as creating the “differentiation
challenge”, this results in the added problem of not being
able to truly demonstrate your offering. There is no product to
display, no existing customer equipment to take the prospect to
see. The business is usually won or lost on the strength of the
relationship and at this initial stage the critical element to
the relationship is that of trust. Trust here is more than being
honest and having integrity, these are taken as absolutes. What
the prospect is asking themselves, when choosing between different
service providers, is which one do I trust the most to look after
my best interests? This essentially breaks down into – do
you have the skills and ability to deliver and will you actually
do everything you say you’ll do?
Does the prospect believe you have the skills and experience to
deliver? This is much more than having a glossy brochure, a fancy
website or an impressive looking CV. It’s about demonstrating
to the prospect that both you and your firm can and will deliver
on the promised results. Here you need to think how best to get
this message over – using data, actual examples, success
stories, client testimonials, etc.
Do you do the things you say you will - are you dependable? The
prospect clearly can’t know for sure that you will deliver
on your promises or bring the project in on time, until he has
given you the business and you’ve done the work. But you
can do other things to show reliability upfront, by getting to
that meeting on time, submitting that proposal by the date you
promised, making that follow up call you said you would.
Finally, there must be rapport – can the prospect relate
to and get on with us? This is very quickly established (or not)
and as most people make up their minds within a few minutes, there
is perhaps not a great deal that can be done. That said, people
generally like dealing with people like themselves, so where you
are genuinely like them, emphasise it and where not, move on to
other areas. Be mindful of body language and their phraseology
and mirror back to them their issues and concerns using their language
(some people are more visual – “I see”, others
more auditory – “I hear” and other more kinaesthetic – “I
feel”). A word of warning here, don’t use a “technique” on
a prospect, but rather develop a general skill in this area and
blend it with your own personality. Finally, if you feel little
rapport has been established, consider having one of your colleagues
contact the prospect next time.
Some of the above may happen by accident, but a strategy to develop
and establish trust quickly will give you consistently better conversion
rates. What will you do this month to accelerate trust building
with your prospects (and clients)?
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