Converting Trust Into Profitable Outcomes

One of the most challenging steps in the sales and marketing process is the final conversion into a desirable outcome for the buyer and the seller.

One reason for this is the terminology. The word conversion has a connotation bordering on manipulation. At the very least it suggests the transition is mechanical, like flipping a switch.

Trust is earned gradually, over time, and on its own time. It takes a skilled and experienced human being to know when a sufficient level of trust has been achieved. Of course, this is much easier in face-to-face selling situations than with online marketing.

Nevertheless, these principles apply in both situations, which means successful web marketing is simply a matter of adapting your traditional practices to a digital format. Here are three steps for converting trust into profitable outcomes.

#1 – Create Content That Shows How Things Work

In the earlier days of selling we often had to rely on the spoken word to communicate. You could also illustrative brochures to demonstrate what a product looks and feels like.  Actual samples were effective too.

Part of the genius of the Apple retail stores is they provide an opportunity for test driving the machines. A business has to manage expectations, and this includes whether or not the product or service will get the job done, and how well.

In addition to these traditional methods, online content works nicely to earn the trust and confidence of buyers . Content is usually thought of as text, yet, it also includes image, visual tutorials, videos, and audio that educate buyers about how your product or service performs.

Consider creating using a combination of these methods to convert trust into desired outcomes.

Video – Demos of how things work. Live performances. Interactions with real customers. Testimonials. Unusual or interesting applications.

Images – Products or services in use. Step-by-step, how-to tutorials. Happy customers. Comparisons, such as before and after. Diagrams and charts.

Audio and Written Copy – Engaging stories. Lists. Ask and answer questions. Persuasive or personalized content.

#2 – Clearly Communicate the Process for Earning Trust

How and when trust is earned varies from one person to the next. Therefore, it is best to take your time, because moving too quickly to covert interest into a sale or agreement of any kind will likely stop or even end the process.

When a business moves too quickly the buyer has a sense that something has been skipped, or will be. This is why it is essential to have a written sales process that communicates to the buyer in advance where you are taking them, and how you will get there.

Think of your content in as earning the attention of the buyer. What should then follow is a process of interaction that is ideally collaborative. Buyers readily engage when they understand you have a defined plan for taking care of them. This is why it is smart to sell the process that sells your products

So, to be clear. Show your buyers why and how your product or service is the solution to their problem. Engage them with a collaborative process that delivers on that promise. Then be alert to their readiness for moving forward with your company.

#3 – Announce Your Intention to Convert in Advance

I often say that conversion is a by-product of a well-designed sales process. However, there is one thing that will significantly improve your rate of conversion, and that is letting your buyer know in advance that you will be doing so.

The process we created for my landscape business required four meetings to achieve a final landscape design and a signed agreement or contract for building it. Each meeting had a name that informed prospective buyers of the purpose of that meeting in advance.

The fourth meeting was named the commitment meeting. That is what we expected after a series of meetings that often spanned a month of more. Thus, there were no surprises or uncomfortable situations. If a buyer decided not to engage with our process they simply backed out after the first meeting.

My friend Chris Brogan has a creative way of adapting this to his digital marketing. He announces at the beginning of his content that he will be making an offer with the phrase “selly sell.” Knowing that in advance, one can easily skip over that content, and most important, trust with the community is preserved.

About the Author:  Jeff Korhan, MBA, is the author of Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business – (Wiley 2013)  

He helps mainstream businesses adapt their traditional growth practices to a digital world. Connect with Jeff on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and Google+.

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