In a sales-driven market, many businesses are all about shooting sales figures way up. According to a report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70% of businesses with employees do not go beyond 10 years. Lack of credibility is one of the many reasons why businesses fail.
There is only so much having the best products can do in boosting sales. For starters, good products can be found elsewhere. It takes some measure of commitment to retaining customers for the long haul. People are more inclined to spend their money in places they find trustworthy.
How can you fall into their good graces?
Here are 10 ways to build credibility with customers for sales success:
1. Relate with customers
Credibility is not a requirement for interactions with strangers. Suspicion and distrust are eminent by default. Lose the “stranger” label if you want your customers to consider you credible by cultivating a personal relationship with them.
Some ways to build personal relationships include:
Communication is an easy way to build relationships of any sort. When two strangers are stuck in a room and fail to communicate, they will remain strangers no matter how long they spend there. Not sure of what to talk about? Research shows that communicating your brand’s purpose is a sure way to build loyalty. Resist the temptation to give a running commentary, seek customers’ opinion.
B) Connect outside the store
Who says your interactions with customers must be restricted to the physical store? There are various modern-day business communication tools you can use to connect with them outside. Be active on specific social networks suitable for your brand and engage your customers.
2. Be a problem solver
There is a general perception that customers are difficult to deal with. Fact is, no customer goes about with the intent of causing trouble, they just want a solution to a frustrating situation. Put yourself in their shoes for a moment, how would you feel being frustrated after spending your money, especially when you did not bargain for it?
According to the RightNow Customer Experience Impact study, 9 in 10 Americans attest to spending more money with companies they believe offer great customer service. Rather than riding on the notion that customers are troublesome, strive to provide excellent customer service.
Some ways to be a problem solver include:
A) Make use of live chat
Having unresponsive customer support is a sign of carelessness. 83% of customers say they need support during their online journey. Any delay in providing this is counterproductive. With live chat, you are right on time to engage customers in real time.
Example: Acquire Live Chat
B) Have a help desk
Not having someone helpful to talk to during a crisis can be frustrating. Make a customer support desk available to handle customer inquiries and complaints in the most seamless way possible. The right help desk enables you to not only provide support but do it promptly.
Example: Freshdesk Help Desk
3. Understand your audience
Credibility thrives when businesses understand the demographics and psychographics of their customers. The whole essence of understanding your audience is to satisfy them. However, you can only satisfy people when you know who they are and what they want.
Some ways to do that include:
A) Make use of CRM
CRM is a great tool for managing interactions with both customers and prospects. It helps you collect their contact information such as telephone, email, phone, social media handles, website etc. Information collected is organized to give you a better understanding of their personalities.
Salesforce CRM (image)
B) Make use of customer analytics
Customers’ online interactions are reflections of who they are. Customer analytics software gives you clear-cut information about their buying history and preferences. You get all the information you need to create tailor-made services for them.
4. Be honest
In a bid to entice prospects about their products, brands often device marketing antics such as puffery to make their products look better. This may have immediate short-term benefits, but sooner or later, consumers will find out the truth, and that will make you look bad.
A study by A Cohn & Wolfe reveals that 63% of global consumers will patronize a company they find authentic, over and above competitors. Products are designed for specific purposes. Resist the temptation to tell lies or omit important details in order to increase sales.
Customers see you as an authority in your niche and may ask questions about products as they presume that you have expert knowledge about it. Do not succumb to pressure and give answers you are not sure of. Simply saying “I don’t know but I can find out and get back to you” can save a lot of trouble from misleading them.
5. Show that you really care
Do not be in a hurry to make customers part with their money; it is a total turn off. Go all out to satisfy their needs in the best ways possible. People are naturally pleased when others show interest in meeting their needs. They are motivated to show appreciation in many ways. For customers, their appreciation will be their loyalty to your brand.
Some ways to show care include:
A) Listen to their needs
In the craziness of today’s business terrain, everyone is talking. Customers’ concerns are forgotten as soon as they are voiced, all that matters is for them to make payment. Listening to customers is a prerequisite for success. Be attentive to what they say, and ask questions for clarity, so you are able to assist accordingly.
B) Check in with customers
Do not cut off communication with customers after they make a purchase. Follow-up after a while to get an idea of their experience with the product purchased. A thoughtful follow-up shows that you are not just for money but even care about their satisfaction.
6. Make customers feel valued
Bad attitude stinks from a thousand miles. Customers hardly stay in places where they are treated without regard, let alone find them credible. Generally, being nice to people is a criterion for a happy life. For one who is selling, you have no excuse not to be nice; it does not cost a thing.
Some ways to make customers feel valued include:
A) Use the right tone
The tone in which you speak can alter your message negatively. It can be frustrating dealing with difficult customers, but you must ensure that you keep your voice down at all times. Be courteous and professional.
B) Be respectful
You do not necessarily have to use derogatory words on people to be insulting. Sometimes, silence can be the biggest form of disrespect. Do not look away when customers are talking to you. Give them your full attention and respond appropriately. Many times, people just want to be heard and acknowledged.
7. Protect your integrity
The sales success you desire will come and go, but integrity or the absence of it lingers. It is okay to want to please customers, but that should be restricted to your capabilities.
Do not make promises and not fulfill them; it is deceitful. You lose the respect customers have for you when your words are meaningless. The golden rule is: under promise and over deliver.
8. Provide value
Pricing can be tricky in the face of competition. While you may want to offer customers the lowest prices, you also want to break even. Do you sell at a loss? Not really; there are better ways to beat the competition. No one wants to feel like they are being ripped off. You need to create a balance.
Some ways to provide value include:
A) Offer quality products
There is a disparity between durable and substantial products. The former might be more expensive but surely gives customers their money’s worth. Do not sell substandard products just to beat the competition; it will have damaging effects on your business in the long run.
B) Offer the best guarantee
Giving customers assurance of your product’s durability and offering due to compensation if they do not meet expected standards, reiterate your commitment to offer value. They feel at ease patronizing you as faulty products can be returned.
9. Prove your credibility
A good track record makes a strong argument in the court of public opinion. If other people can attest to your credibility, it is a lot easier for your customers to buy into it. Make use of testimonials and reviews to showcase the value you offer.
According to the Local Consumer Review Survey, 84% of people trust online reviews. Put in the work to produce great products and/or services that will earn good reviews, and showcase them to your customers. Example: Onzen Product Review
10. Accept responsibility for your inadequacies
Businesses do not always offer the best products and/or services. Things fall through the cracks sometimes. You may choose to either apportion blame to others or take responsibility. The latter shows a commitment to improving and ultimately makes you credible.
Acknowledge the problem, and proffer a solution that is in your customers’ best interest. If a refund is what they want, oblige them and reiterate your commitment to serve them better.
They say a good name is worth more than gold. It is just as valuable as credibility. In the absence of it, everything about your business has a big question mark on it. Employees may be your greatest asset, but their efforts accrue due dividends only when your organization ticks the credibility box.
Sawaram Suthar is head of marketing at Acquire, and also a founder of Jagat Media, a digital marketing agency. A digital marketing consultant, he has experience in things including branding, promotions and page optimization, along with research and strategy. He has an MBA from the University of Pune. Anyone can find him on @sawarams.