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In the realm of B2B sales, credibility isn't just an asset; it's the currency that powers success. There are many ways a salesperson can earn credibility—and there are even more ways to undermine it. To prove to clients that you deserve their trust, consider the following ways to demonstrate your credibility.

Provide Evidence

I received a sales email with the subject line “Are you concerned about a recession?“ Curious about what the sender had to say, I opened it. The message simply asked, “Have you considered using software to fuel business growth?”

For kicks, I replied, “We won't experience a recession in 2024.” The sender then inquired, “Why do you think that?” My response: “Because I'm a member of the business advisory council of the Cleveland Fed, and 2024 is an election year.”

The brevity of both this subject line and email body is striking, in part because it tries to use fear to get me interested in the product. Even more concerning is the absence of any explanation or evidence of a recession. This approach lacks credibility, as claims or threats without proof or evidence tend to be disregarded. Instead of stoking fear, the salesperson could have used this email to establish herself as knowledgeable. Without providing reliable evidence to back up her claim, this comes across as a hollow threat.

Build Trust through Insights

The salesperson who sent the email about an impending recession was likely given this approach by her company, so she should not bear sole responsibility. Her sales leader is likely the source of this message. On LinkedIn cold outreach strategies are becoming increasingly unconventional, all to capture the recipient's attention and secure a first meeting. Spending excessive time there can encourage people to think gimmicky messages are clever or cute. What is missing from these “creative” approaches is any sign of business acumen.

This salesperson's approach fails to provide valuable insights into the future. Instead, it relies solely on speculation. The email lacks any evidence or data points to support the assertion of an impending recession, so the salesperson missed an opportunity to prove her business acumen. As Christopher Hitchens once said, “What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence.” Without evidence, the email doesn’t offer buyers anything compelling, especially considering its brevity.

Navigate the Path to Success

Many argue that in B2B sales, you cannot compel a client to change. This misconception often arises from a lack of experience, a fear of engaging in such conversations, or the belief that a salesperson is not responsible for protecting their clients from harm.

Those aspiring to be trusted advisors must recognize that showing up only after a client has been harmed is a poor strategy. Providing insights before harm occurs establishes trust. Failing to do so jeopardizes your chance of being seen as a trusted advisor, relegating you to a role of cleaning up after your client's failures, essentially making you a janitor. Preventing harm, providing key insights, and proving you can adapt to client needs, places you in the role of a business advisor instead.

In my industry, I have observed clients resist change for years. Even as these factors eroded their business, some clients refused to change, ultimately choosing to fail instead of adapt. Realizing I needed to help these clients, I worked hard to develop expertise in their industry and the business environment. Armed with supporting evidence, I achieved success only after I embraced a data-driven approach, free from conjecture or opinion. I provided my clients with information on the demographics, wage growth, and labor markets that would put them out of business.

The Changing Landscape for Salespeople

When executed effectively, data-driven approaches make you appear and sound like a futurist, as you explain the changes your clients need to make to succeed long term. Despite my efforts, two stubborn clients refused to make any changes and ultimately lost their businesses because they believed they could continue doing things as they always had. This is the consequence of skepticism in the face of data and insights from experts. Much of what we encounter about effective contrarian options on social media consists of charlatans being charlatans.

A Better Approach

Had the salesperson who sent me her fear-mongering email taken a data-driven approach, I may have been more inclined to see her as an expert and a potential advisor. Here is a message that uses insights to get the same message across.

Subject: Concerned about the recession?

  • TD Securities predicts a "mild" recession in the US. • JPMorgan Asset Management believes the risk of a US recession has been "delayed rather than diminished.” • A Bankrate survey of economists found that 48% predict a recession in the next 12 months. • Not everyone agrees. Some, like Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, hope for a "soft landing," where inflation is controlled without causing a recession. • Some businesses are finding software that can help them keep growing and control costs.

It took less than a minute to gather the data supporting a recession in 2024. It would take another minute to find evidence that there will not be a recession in 2024. None of us know whether a recession will occur or when it will happen. You can enhance your credibility by being objective and understanding both sides of an argument, and sharing them with your clients.

The Future of B2B Sales

Your future will find the spoils accruing to those with expertise and authority, making them a credible source for insights into the future. There have always been haves and have-nots in B2B sales. In the future, expertise will distinguish the successful B2B salespeople, while those who fail to create value for their clients may struggle.

If Gartner’s surveys are correct, 75 percent of buyers no longer want a salesperson’s help. Their research also found 68 percent of buyers have made a complex purchase without a salesperson. You might not believe this future is barreling down the track, but no matter your opinion, salespeople who are unwilling or unable to make themselves credible will lose in 2024 and beyond.

Building Trust through Insights

A lack of evidence makes it impossible to build credibility. Those who want to use an insight-based approach to creating opportunities will need to do the reading and research necessary to become experts in their industry. This will provide them with the authority to help their clients make change.

Leaving this post, assess your approach and ensure you are using evidence to support your assertions. Where you have gaps in your insights, build a plan to shore up your evidence and the data you are using. If you need help with this approach, you can go here. If you need help with your team, schedule a meeting.


Sales 2023
Post by Anthony Iannarino on December 6, 2023

Written and edited by human brains and human hands.

Anthony Iannarino

Anthony Iannarino is an American writer. He has published daily at thesalesblog.com for more than 14 years, amassing over 5,300 articles and making this platform a destination for salespeople and sales leaders. Anthony is also the author of four best-selling books documenting modern sales methodologies and a fifth book for sales leaders seeking revenue growth. His latest book for an even wider audience is titled, The Negativity Fast: Proven Techniques to Increase Positivity, Reduce Fear, and Boost Success.

Anthony speaks to sales organizations worldwide, delivering cutting-edge sales strategies and tactics that work in this ever-evolving B2B landscape. He also provides workshops and seminars. You can reach Anthony at thesalesblog.com or email Beth@b2bsalescoach.com.

Connect with Anthony on LinkedIn, X or Youtube. You can email Anthony at iannarino@gmail.com

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