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How to turn the marketing trust crisis into sales opportunity

Our industry is always falling in love with words and ideas. Right now, ‘purpose’, ‘authenticity’ and ‘transparency’, seem to crop up in every talk, fireside chat, webinar or article. This blog isn’t about those words. It’s about the other one: ‘trust’.

Marketers are in the midst of a trust crisis and it’s changing the way that they buy. And while this is a challenge for marketers, it’s an opportunity for sales people. Here’s what you need to know about selling to marketers.

The marketing trust crisis

There are a heap of reasons why marketers’  trust in advertising has been eroded over the last few years.

Firstly, there is the question of ad fraud. Johnny Hornby, CEO The&Partnership says: “If any of these figures are correct, whether its 30%, 40%, 50% of programmatic advertising that is being watched by computers that aren’t people…then there is a lot of fraud going on and that is going to break down the trust between clients and media”.

Then there was the ANA report a couple of years ago that shone a light on the culture of rebates and kickbacks within agencies.

On top of that, marketers know that their audiences are also in the midst of a trust crisis. Consumer trust in social media platforms and advertising is at an all-time low. Edelmen’s 2018 Trust Barometer illustrates this perfectly: trust in social media declined again this year to just 24%. Furthermore, only 43% of Britons trust businesses.

Stefan Loerke, Managing Director at the World Federation of Advertisers neatly sums it up: “There is a perfect storm brewing when you look at the transparency issue, the viewability issue, the ad blocking issue and the ad fraud issue”.

The opportunity for selling to marketers

So, what does this mean if you are a salesperson who is selling to marketers?

Well, in this climate, sales people who make building trust central to their sales approach will win.

Former Mediacom CEO Jon Mandel says “Clients really want somebody to trust. They want someone to give them advice. In the same way that you hire a lawyer or an accountant or a financial advisor you want someone who is going to do right by you…”

Here are five ways that sales people can build trust:

  1. Tell them your “why”. People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. If your focus is to help clients achieve the strongest results, tell them. State this intent and follow through with it in everything you discuss. Let them know that you have the same focus they do.
  2. Try leading with the challenges that you can solve for them in their specific role. For example, you may state that you are working with other companies like them who are facing challenge ‘A’ or challenge ‘B’.. This instantly shows that you are tapped into their world and are likely to know things they want to know.
  3. Talk about other people like them that you are working with (not just companies). Tell them about the results these people are getting through their work with you.
  4. Show your understanding. If you want a client to trust your recommendation, then they need to trust that you properly understand their objectives and challenges.
  5. Be completely transparent about delivery. Don’t gloss over or underplay any challenges that are likely to arise once the ink is dry on the contract. Upfront honesty can really pay off.

Jon Mandel puts it like this: “If it’s no games, no bullshit we’re going to have a healthy relationship and we’re going to have a healthier community. If it’s just to take advantage of each other, to prove that I’m bigger that I’m better and it’s all about me then it’s never going to be healthy.”

The marketing trust crisis may deepen before it disappears, but sales people who focus on building trust by being authentic, purpose driven and transparent will ultimately prevail. Oops!

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