Perhaps the biggest challenge B2B sales reps face is building trust in a post-trust world full of skeptical buyers. Your ability to build trust could be the core driver of your income growth.

How do you build trust with a new client? Research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology may give us some clues. In studying interpersonal relationships, researchers Bahns and Crandall learned that in the early stages of a relationship we are drawn to people who are like-minded.

“You try to create a social world where you’re comfortable, where you succeed, where you have people you can trust and with whom you can cooperate to meet your goals,” Crandall said. “To create this, similarity is very useful, and people are attracted to it most of the time.”

In sales, we talk a lot about outcomes and ROI–the business VALUE of our offering. When it comes to building trust, we also need to consider VALUES.

What are your prospect’s personal values? What are their company values? The more we can understand and then align to their values, the more trust gets built.

“We’re arguing that selecting similar others as relationship partners is extremely common — so common and so widespread on so many dimensions that it could be described as a psychological default,” Bahns said.

Aligning values is simple and powerful. Yet in B2B sales, we’re often so focused on the proverbial ROI that we neglect the interpersonal dynamics of trust. Without trust, we never get to the ROI. So, working to align values may be the smartest thing a sales professional can do.

Let me illustrate. You have a prospect at a target account whom you’ve never met. You finally get a first-in meeting with them to discuss a contract that is coming up for renewal. As you prepare for your first meeting, you check out their LinkedIn profile and discover that they are on the board of directors at a local non-profit that helps provide support for families with sick children. As you consider this, you realize that in order to be involved in a cause like this, your buyer must value compassion and generosity, two things that are near and dear to your heart. In your meeting, you ask them about their involvement with the organization. Then, you share about your involvement in a local homeless shelter.

What’s happening in this conversation? You haven’t talked about business, yet the level of trust begins to rise as the buyer realizes that you are like-minded. During the sales process, you’ll probably focus most of your discussion around the business benefits. However, when it comes time to make the decision, the shared values that were brought up at the beginning of the conversation will have created an environment of trust to help the sale move forward.

Just as individuals have values, organizations also have values. When you understand the values of your prospect’s organization and can align them with your organization, you create another layer of compatibility and trust. How do you find a company’s values? Within a minute of visiting a company’s website you should be able to find the page or annual report that includes the company’s mission and values.

Benefits of Aligning Values

What are the benefits of aligning values? When you have trust you remove obstacles to action and inspire client loyalty.

Remove Obstacles to Action

Values play a critical role in moving deals forward. I’d go so far as to say that if your values are not aligned with the buyer, the chances of winning a deal diminish greatly. Smart sales professionals know that trust is built through aligned values.

Build Client Loyalty

Another challenge sales professionals face is client loyalty. Few things are more frustrating than working to win a client and then having them purchase from another competitor on the next go around. Why does this client turnover happen? In the absence of shared values, there is low client loyalty. When values are aligned, clients become more loyal.

Takeaways

What if you took the time to discover the things that your clients value. Look for clues online and in their office. Ask about their personal and company values. Then, find ways to make a bridge to your personal and company values. It’s simple but powerful. The end result could be the results you’ve been looking for: more sales and greater client loyalty.

Larry Levine

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