Some people (but certainly not you or me, of course) may think that enterprise selling is synonymous with, “extract as much cash as possible from buyers in any way possible.” This attitude treats sales as a kind of warfare, rather than a coming together around shared value.
A healthier perspective on enterprise sales recognizes that durable relationships rest on the foundation of trust, shared goals, and the creation of mutual value. Especially in this age of social media and transparency, buyers expect genuine results rather than fast talking smoke and mirrors.
For enterprise software vendors, building trust with buyers requires listening to their business challenges and telling a factual story that links your product to their requirements. Stories create a connection between your product goals and the buyer’s pain or requirements. When that connection is strong, the customer feels good because he or she can see a path to resolving their business pain.
The value of storytelling is considerable, which is why I asked Gartner analyst and Research VP, Hank Barnes, to comment on these points. As a part of the CXOTalk series of conversations with leaders, we did a private “lightning round” where I asked Hank questions and he responded with short, pithy answers.
In the video below, Hank reflects on the importance of trust in enterprise sales activities. He emphasizes the role of storytelling in creating a connection with the buyer.
Although Hank advises small companies to use stories to help build brand awareness, trust and connectedness are equally important for large vendors. Large or small, trust is the foundation for long-term customer relationships and stories can help create trust.
Here is the transcript of Hank’s comments in this short video, edited for readability and length:
Vendors that don’t consider the role of trust in their sales and marketing activities are going to have a lot of trouble over time. It’s just so fundamental to what we see from buyers. A failure to have trust and ethics be a part of their core and essence is going to put them in a bad place over time.
This is particularly true for emerging vendors, where there isn’t a whole lot of brand awareness. They’ll often make claims and it’s tricky because they may not have a lot of customers. But they can tell stories that link to the reason why they created the product, and start to build authenticity and build trust into the equation.
But, if I ignore trust and just go after everyone, that’s going to be a path where buyers default to, “Prove it to me before I believe you.”
(Cross-posted @ ZDNet | Beyond IT Failure Blog)