Unique Challenges of Business-to-Business Service Providers:
Often business is relationship
critical – How to build trust before gaining
The second challenge of business-to-business service
providers we shall look at is - the challenge that gaining
business is often relationship critical. How can the
necessary relationship and, most importantly, trust be
built up, before gaining the contract?
In part one we
discussed not having a unique product. As well as creating
the “differentiation challenge”, this results
in the added problem of not being able to truly demonstrate
your offering. There is no product to display, no existing
customer equipment to take the prospect to see. The business
is usually won or lost on the strength of the relationship
and at this initial stage the critical element to the
relationship is that of trust. Trust here is more than
being honest and having integrity, these are taken as
absolutes. What the prospect is asking themselves, when
choosing between different service providers, is which
one do I trust the most to look after my best interests?
This essentially breaks down into – do you have
the skills and ability to deliver and will you actually
do everything you say you’ll do?
Does the prospect believe you have the skills and experience
to deliver? This is much more than having a glossy brochure,
a fancy website or an impressive looking CV. It’s
about demonstrating to the prospect that both you and
your firm can and will deliver on the promised results.
Here you need to think how best to get this message over – using
data, actual examples, success stories, client testimonials,
Do you do the things you say you will - are you dependable?
The prospect clearly can’t know for sure that you
will deliver on your promises or bring the project in
on time, until he has given you the business and you’ve
done the work. But you can do other things to show reliability
upfront, by getting to that meeting on time, submitting
that proposal by the date you promised, making that follow
up call you said you would.
Finally, there must be rapport – can the prospect
relate to and get on with us? This is very quickly established
(or not) and as most people make up their minds within
a few minutes, there is perhaps not a great deal that
can be done. That said, people generally like dealing
with people like themselves, so where you are genuinely
like them, emphasise it and where not, move on to other
areas. Be mindful of body language and their phraseology
and mirror back to them their issues and concerns using
their language (some people are more visual – “I
see”, others more auditory – “I hear” and
other more kinaesthetic – “I feel”).
A word of warning here, don’t use a “technique” on
a prospect, but rather develop a general skill in this
area and blend it with your own personality. Finally,
if you feel little rapport has been established, consider
having one of your colleagues contact the prospect next
Some of the above may happen by accident, but a strategy
to develop and establish trust quickly will give you
consistently better conversion rates. What will you do
this month to accelerate trust building with your prospects
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whether we would like to work together.