Trust remains the cornerstone of B2B communication
A lot has changed in B2B communication in recent years. For a long time, primary customer acquisition was dominated by trade fairs, mailings and customer events. The more personal, the better. No wonder. After all, building trust is essential, especially when making uncertain decisions in B2B. Personal contact is unbeatable for this. Has this changed in times of Corona, limited travel activities and an overall uncertain economic outlook?
Distinction between reputation - corporate trust - personal trust
Important for assessing the importance of trust in B2B is the distinction between upstream reputation and generated trustworthiness through communication.
Reputation describes the attitude towards a company before one has contacted the company oneself. You may have heard from a colleague that the company is good. Or you know from a customer whom you trust that he also has a business relationship with this company. From this, one concludes that it must be a good company. Its reputation is positive.
The same applies to publications in trade media and national newspapers and magazines. A friendly article in the "Süddeutsche Zeitung" or "FAZ" pays dividends for the company's reputation. The same applies to prizes awarded and mentions in relevant industry directories or rankings.
The company has no direct influence on its own reputation. It can only ensure through good work and good results that others, whether customers or the media, report positively about the company.
As soon as the potential customer comes into contact with corporate communications, reputation changes to corporate trust. It doesn't matter whether he goes to the website (the most likely way these days) or looks at a brochure or drives past a branch. This is where the trust building blocks work in all facets. This is where it is decided how many of the potential customers actually come into personal contact with the company. It will never be all of them. The important thing here is to ensure that as high a percentage as possible, say more than 50% for example, makes contact. The user of the website thus becomes the lead.
If the potential customer has been convinced here, he makes personal contact. He fills out an online form with a callback request, calls directly or enters the branch. This is the moment when personal trust begins with the person he is confronted with at that moment. Yes, often it unfortunately has the character of a confrontation. Who is not familiar with the dismissive effect of various telephone hotlines? Well-trained salespeople in B2B show that it can also work differently. Here, too, I can spontaneously think of several examples where I became a buyer because I trusted the salesperson - not the company. Well-trained salespeople with the right amount of empathy for the needs of the customer cannot be valued highly enough.
But the battle is not (primarily) decided at this point. The decisive factor is whether 5 or 50 of 100 possible customers make personal contact. With a poor website, it could well be 0 out of 100. Or even 85.
Building blocks of trust in B2B communication
Of course, even today, first contacts take place via trade fairs, in sales offices or cold calls. Wherever you listen, however, you hear that the proportion of already existing customer contacts is increasing. The total number of visitors is decreasing. The remainder of real new customer leads is getting smaller and smaller.
Let us therefore assume that, especially in B2B, where decisions are usually not made by individuals but by a team, the first contact is anonymous and usually via the website. What does it matter here?
I am not going to go into all the building blocks of trust. The most important points are customer orientation, competence, results, aura, personality and integrity. The importance of results cannot be overestimated, especially in B2B. The sum of completed projects, years in the industry, and statements from satisfied customers (ideally even in video format) speak for themselves and generate a high degree of trustworthiness. In B2B, customer orientation is not to be forgotten. Just pay attention to how many times you have written you . . . and how many times We . . . on your website. The ratio may like to be 1:5 – of course in favor of you. So first talk about the needs and then about what great solutions you have developed.
But it’s about leads, isn’t it?
Clearly, the goal of your B2B communication, whether online or offline, is to collect leads. Afterwards, you convince your customers in a personal conversation and explain the details of your products and services.
Countless studies prove the paramount importance of trust as a decision criterion for potential customers. Every investment you make in increasing your trustworthiness through optimized B2B communication will directly translate into an increase in conversion rates. So the better you communicate your trustworthiness through your website, the more leads you'll get.
So what to do?
In the past few years (and decades) nothing substantial has changed in personal contact. Training your salespeople here and selecting the best employees for the sales area is always worthwhile. Cold quake is over. Measure more or less, too.
Your trustworthiness is best conveyed by the right content on your website. Show your results with impressive customer statements. Show that you know what your customers need. Showcase your experience, know-how and passion for your products and services. Convince with a modern brand and membership of well-known organisations. And let the personality of your key employees work properly.
If you want to know how best to implement all this, we will be happy to show you how to do it with our support. We have already successfully implemented the matching Content Strategy workshop many times, from startups to corporations. We would be happy to show you what you can expect in a free presentation.