Ten insights from the B2B sector about Building Trust

In the latest Great Debate at the magnificent Crystal Building in London we discussed the most fundamental component of B2B customer relationships: Trust. Three speakers from industry gave us their insight supplemented with interactive workshops, which led to our debate. Here are ten insights gleaned from the discussion:

  1. Proper trust has to be two-way, with a clear understanding on both sides of needs and requirements
  2. There’s a huge difference in the way staff talk between “my customer” and “our customer”. People can create silos around customers because they believe the relationship is based on them – not the company. These companies then miss opportunities to cross sell and give a consistent customer experience
  3. Revisit your company values if there’s no mention of trust or honesty/integrity. Train trust in your people, who need to have the right personal values first and a clear culture of trust in which they operate – or it won’t work
  4. Don’t be afraid of price negotiations! A customer starting with the price is not a direct challenge to the trust you have built – it’s just a tactic they’re using. Good negation skills development can help you flip the discussion into a meaningful conversation around relationship, trust and value
  5. When relationships have deteriorated in B2B both parties have to have a common need to work together to fix the relationship – it’s not like B2C when a customer can often just walk away
  6. If you can’t deliver on a promise/commitment you must be honest about it, as it gives you the opportunity to turn the negative situation into a positive resolution that boosts trust
  7. Deep Interdependence gets to a point where companies are so reliant on each other that a logical next step could be takeover or merger. Otherwise there is the danger of losing them to a competitor
  8. You can become TOO interdependent – i.e. over dependent – there is a risk that challenge and healthy debate become unwelcome in the relationship. It is never healthy for any company to have too much reliance on a few customers – can lead to over dependent behaviours or loss of real independence as a business
  9. Why should we build trust with customers who are just out to screw their suppliers?! Well, two wrongs don’t make a right – work on an “everyday trust” basis (bottom rung of the Trust Ladder) with those and pick the good customers to develop trust-based relationships with
  10. Trust DOES pay back – leads to more repeat business and ‘annuity’ revenue

Do you have a view on this?  // or //

Peter Lavers