According to HubSpot research, only 3% of buyers consider sales representatives trustworthy.* That’s quite a startling statistic. Though consumers should have some level of skepticism when making a purchase, especially a big one, you’d think more people would trust the product expert. Rather than get discouraged though, let’s talk about how we can increase customer trust in sales reps.
There’s a phrase we use frequently here at Weber when describing the ideal sales experience, and that’s “shoulder-to-shoulder.” No one wants to go into a store to be talked down to, especially if they’re already nervous about an expensive purchase. Reps must strike a balance between expert and friend. In order to achieve this, there are a few different elements that a sales team must master.
The physical sales environment creates a customer’s first impression, which should not be overlooked. The tone of the interaction that follows is also largely informed by the physical surroundings. Think about how most people feel at a traditional job interview; being in the “hot seat” while looking up at a person of superior rank from behind a big desk can be intimidating and nerve-wracking for even the most experienced interviewee. The physical separation of the desk only adds to the division (just ask Larry David in the episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm where he fights with Lin Manuel Miranda for a seat at the big desk—an opportunity for the upper hand in their otherwise collaborative meeting). If you’ve ever interviewed for a job in a conference room, you know that sitting around a table symbolically levels the playing field and puts everyone in the room, including the interviewer, at ease. Well, the same goes for sales interactions. If you want an example of a sales environment done right, try visiting your local cellular provider. If you were to show up to one of these stores to purchase a phone, chances are a rep would stand and talk with you, use a digital visual to explain offerings (literally shoulder to shoulder), or work with you at a table or countertop in a way that feels casual and relaxed.
The volume and clarity of information passing between a rep and a customer is even more important than the physical setup of the sales interaction. Whether it’s a walk-in retail interaction with a consumer or a scheduled meeting with a prospective business customer, the sales rep must provide the right type and volume of information. The customer needs to see the entire breadth of offerings without getting overwhelmed. In order to accomplish this, reps must be equipped with an acute combination of tools and training. Tools may include paper promotional materials, digital distribution tools for static content, and interactive visuals for the display of customized information. With proper training, reps will supplement the tools with their own knowledge of the products and services for a comfortable, consultative experience that doesn’t scare away the customer.
Even the correct environment and content don’t guarantee a successful sales interaction. Every experience with a sales rep is indicative of the overall brand and should be treated as such. One of the most common mistakes we’ve seen companies make is to allow a disconnect between their brand vision and their frontline. Disjunct internal communications can lead to inconsistencies, and inconsistencies can lead to customer dissatisfaction. However, with the right foresight and expertise, companies may use their goals as the basis for everything from their high-level marketing to their sales reps on the ground in order to ensure consistency and impactful results.
At Weber Associates, we bridge the gap between marketing and sales to help clients drive results in the field. We develop digital tools to enable shoulder-to-shoulder customer interactions, create training materials and messaging for the frontline, and perform company-wide communications audits to optimize efficiency. Contact us today to learn more about our offerings.
About Weber Associates
Weber Associates is a Columbus, OH-based consulting firm. Since 1985, we have blended the creativity of a marketing agency with the analytical rigor of a consultancy to help our clients solve real sales and marketing challenges so they can significantly grow revenues and customer loyalty.