Do your potential buyers trust you?

By Anders Björklund

Do your potential buyers trust you?

Do you remember when you were a kid, and your parents told you to "never take candy from a stranger"? If you ever asked them why not, your parents probably said something like: "Most strangers are nice, but some aren't, and it can be dangerous to trust strangers if they're not nice."

Your parents tried to teach you the relationship between risk and trust. 

The other day I looked through LinkedIn's State of sales report; in there, I found that the main part of potential buyers (63%) say salespeople are not trustworthy, and they actually lean on the same lesson that your parents tried to teach you when you were a kid.

The bigger the deal, the more trust it takes

I'll try to explain the trust-risk connection and how it's keeping your buyers from trusting you. As humans, our default setting is self-preservation. Regardless of what you market, offer and sell, your customer feels the same way about you in your sales meetings. So the amount of risk your customer perceives depends on the type of product you're selling.

The more risk your potential and the existing customer perceives, the harder it will be for you to get their trust – which usually correlates with more significant deals. This is especially challenging for B2B sales because such decisions always carry many risks – for the buyer's company and their own risk exposure. 

With that much risk involved, it's easy to see why B2B decision-makers sometimes distrust supplier sales, even if they trust the individual sales reps. 

The main reasons buyers don't trust you

Perceived risk makes it difficult for decision-makers to trust you. Always respect this, and confront and address the perceived risks head-on to show your potential buyers that you understand their doubts and prove that you know and have re-assuring answers.

Three significant types of risk weigh on the minds of decision-makers: personal, functional, and financial.

Personal risk - Do I trust this person  

Your potential and existing customers' first risk filter is personal; they must feel and believe that you're trustworthy before they even begin to hear your story.

My recommended way to address and overcome your potential and existing customers' personal risk doubts is to demonstrate that you care about them. Here's the most effective way, in a three-step approach, to show that you watch:

Show that you know them 

To tailor communication and interactions and researching the potential buyer and their company is vital to show you care about their interests.


Too many sales reps are busy talking or waiting to talk that they don't actually absorb the essential details and parts.

Add value

Make sure their time spent with you is worthwhile and that the experience fulfils their expectations.

Do those three things, and you will increase your chances of building trust with the potential or existing customer on an individual level.

Functional risk - Do I trust the product, solution or service

Functional risks happen when your customer is afraid that your product, solution or service won't actually perform as expected. 

Solving functional risk involves getting experience, answers, and examples from comparable companies and cases. Bring relevant evidence that will resonate with the person's role and the nature of their business and company.

Don't just bring along general case studies. Today's B2B buyers do their own research and seek advice from others. So they've probably seen what you can do before you talk to them. So instead, use your examples to show how you'll solve other buyers' specific concerns and provide additional detail and contextual guidance.

Bottom line – the more proof you can show of successfully helping people and companies in similar situations, the more your potential buyer will trust you'll be able to help them, too.

Financial risks: Does the offering seem priceworthy

Never deliver misleading information about your product, solution or service. Be transparent from all perspectives if you want your prospective buyer to trust you, the prerequisites to succeed, common implications, and the cost.

Cost transparency isn't just about the price; it's more critical to the perception of value. To successfully help your prospective buyer perceive the value of your offering relative to its cost is the way to dampen concerns over financial risks. 

To do that, you must communicate value relative to the problem, need or challenge it solves. Then, frame the financial risk of adopting your product, solution or service directly against the opportunity cost of not adopting your offering. 

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Anders Björklund
Founder, CEO & Strategist since 2001. Anders provides thoughts and reflections about how to think about onlinification and digitalisation in B2B.
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