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A recent study conducted by Enquiro Research to investigate buying behaviour within organisations revealed that, contrary to the perceived model of business buying as a well-researched, rational process, purchasers’ decisions are in fact dominated by the desire to mitigate risk.

With buyers focused on covering their backs, B2B marketers must do as much as possible to BUILD TRUST in order to increase conversions.

AdStorm has identified a number of tactics you can adopt to mitigate risk, reduce the ‘fear factor’ in the buying process and secure those all-important sales.

How to make buying from you a less risky business

1. Use peer group validation

A user’s recommendation is always far more convincing than anything that any sales or marketing person or even industry expert can say. Peer group validation packs a punch in building trust, so it’s important that you make good use of third party opinions.

It has also been proven that the earlier you can put customer reviews, case studies or testimonials in front of a prospect, the greater your chances of gaining their commitment.

“If you can show prospects testimonials from recent satisfied customers with the same risk profile as them, even better,” says AdStorm director, Rob Frost. “Seek references from individuals involved with purchasing your product or service and pair them up with prospects in the same industry or having a similar buying remit.”

2. Get inside your buyer’s head

“If you want to establish trust, you need to appreciate where today’s B2B buyers are coming from psychologically and emotionally,” says AdStorm director, Rob Frost. “Bear in mind the possible repercussions of their making a poor purchasing decision: Business performance could be impaired; the company could gain negative PR; customer loyalty could diminish and on a personal level, buyers risk looking incompetent, letting the team down and possibly even getting fired. There can be a lot at stake.”

By understanding buyer fears better, you will be more proactive and effective at allaying them.

3. Take it steady, Eddie

As with most things, you need to walk before you can run. Prospects generally prefer to commit bit by bit, rather than to dive straight in with both feet. Building trust takes time, so if you take a methodical, step-by-step approach to relationship and trust-building, your chances of success will increase.

Attracting prospects to your website may be the first step. If your creativity, content and graphic design exude quality then you may gain enough trust for them to part with their email address in return for a download, or to sign up for an e-Newsletter. If your communications are of interest to them, they may take your calls and discuss business issues.

After a few conversations you may be able to arrange a meeting, and follow it up with a working session, free consultation, complimentary audit or free trial of your product,” says Rob.

“Of course you should get the biggest commitment you can,” he continues, “ but most often small commitments are easier to gain and trust will increase at every stage.”

4. Address high-risk with risk-reducing offers

No business buyer is readily going to part with large amounts of budget and make a high-value purchase, especially if they have no existing relationship with you as a vendor or supplier, or you’re a newcomer to the market.

“You can lower the perceived risk of opting for your product or service by using a teaser offer, a time-limited discount, or as I mentioned, a free trial period. This will encourage positive interactions with, and build trust in your brand,” says Rob.

5. Give the big boys a run for their money

As we all know, nobody ever got fired for buying IBM. But we can’t all be IBM. If your name isn’t on the list – or you don’t happen to be a known, market-leading brand – you can still compete.

How? “By positioning your business as a credible contender,” says Rob. “This can be achieved by educating your target audience in the ways in which your product or services will benefit them via a well-conceived marketing programme; or building relationships with prospects through effective lead nurturing.

“Publishing white papers, posting blog entries and even using industry chat forums can help boost your credentials and establish your business as a thought-leader. Aim to become their trusted advisor.”

Our top 10 on-line line-up

B2B should also get wise to the trust-boosting power of their websites. Building trust online can be achieved in many ways – here are AdStorm’s favourite trust-inducing suggestions:

1. Combine form & function

Good design and user-friendly navigation count when you’re trying to create trust and convey a good impression. Invest in professional web design and development; make it logical and easy for users to access the information they need; and ensure load times are as fast as possible.

2. Get visible

If prospects ‘Google you’ and your company is very visible (with your website, LinkedIn, Twitter, blogs and so on) your brand will be deemed more trustworthy. If you’re hard to find, they’re likely to look elsewhere. “”Be sure to optimise your site, participate in online forums, list your company in directories, get mentioned on industry leading blogs, do all that you can to increase your search engine prominence and brand exposure,” says Rob.

3. Be well-connected

Association with established brands fosters trust. So use testimonials from any prestigious customers, appear at speaking engagements, sponsor industry events and get hob-knobbing with the best of ‘em!

4. Bask in the glory of your awards and accreditations

If your business has won any awards or been recognised for something, publish the details about it on your website and link to the relevant award(s) sites. Recognition and positive association builds trust. There are awards programmes for every conceivable industry so if you’ve something to be proud of, don’t be afraid to enter.

5. Be social

“People expect trustworthy brands to be ‘current’ and active on platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn these days,” says Rob. “Social media keeps your Internet presence fresh, boosts your visibility and enables you to quantify attention; you can see how many times a blog post has been re-tweeted, ‘liked’ or shared on Facebook for instance.”

6. Be secure

Using trusted payment services adds credibility if you have an e-commerce site. PayPal for instance, trusted worldwide, reduces the risk of online purchasing – and it’s another good brand name association for you.

7. Use video & photos

It goes without saying that testimonials should be included to build trust in your site, but never underestimate the power of the spoken word. “Seeing people endorsing your products or services takes user confidence up a level, so feature video testimonials and use photos of your team to give your company a ‘face’ that buyers can identify with,” Rob suggests.

8. Give visitors options

Provide potential buyers with options on your landing pages – links to customer reviews or chat forums – could re-direct them to confidence-inducing content and alleviate risk if they’re having second thoughts about conversion. Consider a third-party review service such as Revoo.

9. Respond fast

Whether you are answering a question or following up an enquiry, act smart and respond quickly to ensure you are sending the right messages to prospects (who could be just on the point of converting!) In many industries customer service is the most important differentiator. Being prompt and courteous during the sales process may be seen as a taste of things to come.

10. Go easy on the advertising

A site with too many ads shouts ‘spam’ so limit advertising as much as possible if you wish to be perceived as a trustworthy business to do business with. Focus on delivering the content that users want.

All too risky to tackle solo?

Don’t leave success to chance! Contact a name you can trust: AdStorm

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