He Said, She Said Episode #16: The Importance of Building Trust in Sales and Marketing
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In light of recent events, Kathleen and I sat down this week to talk about trust, including its role in our society, as well as the impact it has on marketers and salespeople, as well as brands as a whole. The focus of our discussion includes:
THE BIGGEST LESSON ABOUT TRUST FOR MARKETING IN SALES
THE BEST WAY TO WIN CONSUMER CONFIDENCE
WHY SALES SHOULDN'T BE EVERYTHING TO EVERYONE
HOW CONTENT IS THE KEY TO A BRAND'S AUTHENTICITY
Listen to the episode to hear it all, or read the show notes below.
READ THE SHOW NOTES:
A few weeks ago, Volkswagen stunned consumers and regulators alike when it was revealed that 2016 diesel model vehicles had software installed that was designed to intentionally cheat emissions testing. This begs the question, how does anyone in this day and age think that the truth won't come out about stuff like that?
In the case of Volkswagen, this scandal not only broke the trust between them and consumers who already own Volkswagens, but also anyone who may have considered buying a car from them in future.
This got us thinking about the concept of trust, and what place that has in our society today.
THE VALUE OF TELLING IT LIKE IT IS
In looking at the current pool of presidential candidates, Kathleen highlights that many of them aren’t Washington insiders. They’re from outside the Beltway, and they’re speaking their minds. As a result, they're running on a platform trust that is implied their candid stances. Personally, I don't believe Donald Trump is running on trust – nor is he the trustworthy candidate. But Kathleen rightly points out there are different ways to define trust. Because when you hear Trump speak, you don't think he's pandering to voters, for the most part. You buy into the notion that he believes the things that he says.
Which brings us to a larger truth – if people think you're just saying what you think they want to hear, it undermines your credibility.
This is something I don't think the big brands get yet. The control over their brand no longer resides within the corporate walls of the company. It's made up of employees and the trust that they bring to the marketplace.
Recently, Kathleen read about how brands position themselves when they're not market leaders. In this case, a company laid out how they have to work harder to earn their business because they're No. 2. That's a great example, because they're telling it how it is rather than trying to brag about their accomplishments.
BUT WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR MARKETING AND SALES?
There is a lesson here for both marketing and sales regarding the importance of trust, how to earn it and what you shouldn't do if you don't want to lose it. Sounds straightforward enough, but it's a challenge, because modern consumers are so cynical – and for good reason, as Volkswagen so aptly demonstrated.
Kathleen says this is due to the fact that nobody addressing it. Everyone is saying, “We’re unique, we’re market leaders, our people are the most creative, etc.” It’s a bunch of crap. So if you’re willing to tell it like it is, it’s easier to stand out, and it becomes less of a challenge.
This is something we’ve been trying to do ourselves. For example, with blogging, Kathleen’s goal this year has been to be brutally honest this year about what does and doesn’t work. Even if it means talking about our own failures or experiences we've had with clients. (We do this politely and with discretion, of course, but she jokingly calls herself the Taylor Swift of Marketing Agencies.)
Why? Because we all have problems.
At the beginning of her session at #INBOUND15, Kathleen asked if anyone had a friend in real life or on Facebook who always brag about their children making honor roll or their perfect husbands who surprise them with flowers every Friday. We all do, and the reality is that it’s so annoying to have friends like that. No one has a perfect life. And the same goes for marketing agencies who speak at conferences about how they went from being a nothing startup to a top HubSpot partner in six months, or from no clients to 50 in 60 days.
We do ourselves disservice when we don’t talk more honestly about our problems. From our own experience, every time we blog honestly about these kinds of things, the feedback we get is great – “Thank you for saying this! This has happened to me, too!”
HOW DO YOU WIN? DISARM CONSUMERS WITH THE TRUTH
And that’s one of the best ways to build trust – to disarm your audience. One of the most common ways we see that is when a company openly says on their website, “These are the people who are not a good fit for us.”
ONE OF THE BEST WAYS TO BUILD CONSUMER TRUST IS TO DISARM THEM WITH THE TRUTH.
For instance, at Quintain, we sell promotional products. If you’re looking for the cheapest pen around, we’re not for you. Instead, go to Google.com and type in “cheap pen.”
Another example is something that happened to us recently with a promotional products project we’re currently working on. Through a matter of circumstance, we ended up in a situation where we had an issue with packaging that couldn’t be fulfilled by originally engaged vendor. So, we went to another vendor. He said they’d get back to us to see if they could help. A day later? He calls back.
“I’ve got good news and bad news,” he said.
The bad news? He couldn’t help. The good news? He let us know how we could fulfill the order on our own, as well as how to access the materials we needed.
“You can do this yourself,” he continued. And then he shared how his business does what they do – their secret sauce – empowering us to do it on our own.
In that moment, he became our No. 1 guy for this vertical. I will never buy his products from anyone else. He got a customer for life, because of what he did and the trust he showed with me.
We do this, as well, especially with those who can’t afford our services. Back in our first podcast, we talked about a man who found us through our art director's ever-popular Wix.com blog and wanted help with his website. We told him right out of the gate that we weren’t the solution for him, but we offered to give him an hour on the phone to arm him with the knowledge he needed to move forward.
Will we ever get any business from him? Maybe not, but we are firm believers in karma.
But trust in business is multidimensional. It runs from how you engage with your employees and how you deal with your customers when there’s a problem, to your website and your marketing materials.
SALES CAN’T BE EVERYTHING TO EVERYONE – AND THEY SHOULDN’T BE
With salespeople, there’s a real trust issue, because so many in sales try to be everything to everyone. Kathleen used to work in management consulting, and management consultants are famous for this – “I can be an expert in anything you need me to be an expert in.” But that’s what you do in that role; you’re an expert in nothing, but you’re also an expert in everything. You have to be.
As a salesperson, if you have a conversation with a prospect who has a very specific need you can’t address, the best thing you can do is say, “That’s not really what we do well.”
Alternatively, if you pander and win that business, you’re trapped. You can’t scale being an expert in everything. This is something you tend to see a lot in smaller businesses, because they feel they can’t afford to say no. And in the spirit of full disclosure, we went through a period of time earlier this year where our revenues dropped, because we made a commitment to only take on customers we thought were a good fit and what we were looking for, and to say no to everything else.
And to say no to someone who wants to hire you is scary.
Then we had to take a hard look at why we were losing clients. The bottom line was that we were just not delivering the best service that we could. And we found a hole in the way that we approached content.
GETTING HONEST ABOUT CONTENT CREATION
Creating content is key to inbound marketing and selling. It’s what gets you found. But we didn’t have a solid solution for that. So we approached someone who was on our team who was the right person in the wrong seat, and asked her to be our Content Manager, because we really believe content is going to be the path to our success, as well as our differentiator.
For an agency of our size, this is unusual. But we’re really excited about it.
Content is becoming commoditized as a task where anyone can do it, and you can just check the box. A few years back, if you were able to help someone out with that “new Inbound thing,” you were in a sweet spot. But at this year’s #INBOUND15 conference, there were 15,000 attendees. This is a movement that has taken hold.
So you’ve got to be thinking about, if you’re pouring money into inbound marketing, and you’re not committing to create great content, you’re really just pouring that money directly down the drain.
For us, our decision to put that content manager in place is a response to this. We are trying to get ahead of that risk by consolidating this into one person. Yes, you need to have content that is informative and is properly optimized, but that’s expected. We have to go above and beyond. The blogs should have personality and should reflect the brand. Where people go, “Yes! I get it!”
That’s our goal, and Kathleen is really excited about this.
HOW CONTENT IS THE ROOT OF CONSUMER TRUST FOR MARKETERS
But bringing it back to our issue of trust, being able to take your content to the next level and to have it truly reflect the author, your brand and your culture – that’s what’s going to build trust. And if you’re in marketing right now, and you’re producing content for your employer or partner, ask yourself two questions:
Do you have the support of your c-level management team?
Do you have the support and buy-in your sales team?
If you can’t answer both of those with a resounding yes, you’re in trouble. If you don’t have the support and buy-in of your entire company, you are going to lose the trust of the people you’re trying to gain right now.
Kathleen’s prediction? In the next year to two years, we’re going to see this movement toward smaller agencies having a content manager in-house. She also says the companies and agencies that go out of their way to produce mind-blowing content are going to hit a homerun.
I don’t have a prediction, but here’s a piece of advice: If you’re hiring an agency, ask them how they’re going to help you differentiate yourself. How are they going bring out your personality and the culture your company in the content they produce? (Here’s a great example, if we do say so ourselves – with a big shout out to our client, Chesapeake Eye Care!)
Psst! Stay tuned after the credits. We’ve got a little something special for you…
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