outsideinview.comThroughout this blog we’ve looked at buyer personas. More recently we looked at turning sales into our partners; and, even more recently, at the sales funnel. But, what all sales – B2B and B2C – come down to, in a single word, is trust.

The market has shifted and the buyers hold the power. The days of throwing brochures, white papers and advertisements at the buyer are gone. Now the buyer has done most of the investigation before you even know they are shopping. In marketing terms, it’s a shift from outbound to inbound marketing. I recently spoke to my colleague, and product management leader, Jim Holland, who’s an advisory consultant at Primary Intelligence. Jim shared, “In the buyer intelligence programs I manage, people most often respond that they searched on Google first to see if a solution matched their problem, not a company or sales person.”

When you are brought into their sales cycle for consideration, you have to start by having a conversation with them. This is the situation regardless of what media you are using – traditional, digital or none.  If you can have the conversation you have now started the dating game. You are getting to learn about each other, but it is still a superficial level. Think about the last time you bought a computer. You started by looking at what you wanted, what was available, and where that match point met. But, it is still at the surface level, and you could walk away at any time because there was no commitment on either side.

Once you have a conversation, you begin to form a relationship. Relationships are two-way streets. Two ways! You not only have to take the time to understand your buyer, but you need to have your buyer understand you. This isn’t about seeing the glossy marketing pieces and demos. A relationship is when you truly uncover what the buyer’s goals, behaviors and attitudes are, and then you can tailor a response to their needs. A buyer persona profile is the start, but you have to take that persona to a personal level when you are trying to form a relationship.

Once you have a relationship, a level of trust will begin to form. It’s simple. People do not like to give their money away. This is true in both the business and consumer market. No one gives their money to someone they don’t’ trust. Returning to the computer purchase analogy, the store where you went was the intermediary. Your money went to the computer manufacturer. You evaluate your purchase based on features, but your decision was based on the fact that you believed that particular manufacturer would deliver the features in the machine, and stand by it if there were problems. You trusted the manufacturer.

Once you have trust established, you can engage in the sale. Your buyer understands you and what you offer. You have shared – both ways – needs and expectations. Now it’s simply a negotiation, which is a sales process.

Looking in from the outside, it doesn’t matter who you market is or where you find them. It doesn’t matter what shape the funnel is or what sales methodology is in use. It all comes down to one word – trust. If you have it, you will succeed.