Two key factors influencing purchasing decisions in B2B markets are credibility and personal relationships. Assuming appropriate promotional activity has built awareness in the marketplace then, in risk adverse B2B markets, credibility is a key distinguishing factor. This post suggests five possible ways for a business to build the trust of its potential customers.
Five factors that influence the credibility of a supplier are:
- Social proof.
- The quality of information delivered.
- Activity in marketplace.
- Personal interfaces.
Robert Cialdini (among others) noted the concept of social proof. It states “one means we use to determine what is correct is to determine what others think is correct”. Case studies, testimonials and recommendations are therefore powerful weapons in the battle to increase credibility.
Content (information) marketing
Research shows that >60% of customers that leave a business do so simply because they do not feel valued and / or the supplier does not communicate with them on a regular basis. Quality, relevant (not sales copy) information both aids customer retention and makes a supplier more trustworthy.
In B2B markets members of the purchasing decision making team are much more likely to seek out the information they need than to wait for a supplier to push it their way. If the decisions makers most trusted sources of information (industry journals, blogs or trade association information) can be identified and useful, relevant information can be posted to those sources they can only boost the trustworthiness of a business.
What a business stands for, the way it works with customers, its profile in the marketplace are all parts of its brand. A number of research papers show a direct relationship between a positive brand image and the credibility of the supplier. However, it takes time and effort to build a brand and other elements in the list (content, promotional activity and personal relationships) all have an impact on the overall brand image.
Inbound marketing may be the accepted way forward for many businesses in B2B markets but there is little doubt outbound (advertising, literature, exhibitions etc) still has a major impact on branding and the credibility of a supplier. A B2B supplier that has a low market profile is likely to lose ground to its competitors hence the best approach is a well constructed strategy including the best elements of inbound and outbound marketing.
A poor service experience can destroy trust in an instant. Any company personnel a customer may deal with can have a positive (or negative) impact on the business credibility. Knowledgeable employees who deliver good service build the brand and deliver a positive experience.
It can take months, often years, to build credibility in B2B markets but that credibility and trust can be destroyed in an instant by poor service or a negative employee experience. All businesses encounter problems at some stage, the ways these problems are dealt with can actually increase the trustworthiness of a supplier, or if the experience is negative, take years to recover.