Sales

How to Win Customer Trust: 7 Strategies for Sales Growth in Technical Services

By
Kendall Bachman
|
CEO of Miramar Technologies
|
9 min read

We live in an ever-increasing digital world where technical services are on the rise. When selling these services to potential customers, startup tech companies need to understand what drives their target market. Finding effective ways to achieve sales growth while navigating the constraints of a limited working team is an ongoing challenge for small-scale tech firms.


This article will share my perspective on how a sales growth strategy built on trust matters more than ever in this competitive market. I'll also show you how to maximize your working relationships, what to look for when building your sales team, and how to effectively use social media to reach new customers. But before we get to that, let's talk about the sales efforts that aren't worth your time or hard-earned money.

Sales strategies that don't work for small tech companies

The unfortunate truth is, more than half of technology projects fail. And it's not difficult to understand why. When you have a small startup team working hard to push revenue forward, it's not uncommon to find each person wearing multiple hats. Sales and marketing efforts are often merged instead of holding separate departments found in national firms.


Employees of large companies have the advantage of being able to focus strictly on their areas of expertise, whether that be fine-tuning the sales funnel or fleshing out email marketing strategies; this isn't the case for most tech startups.


A small team can certainly be successful, but people can become unfocused and spread thin when too many steps are added to sales strategies. The stress of constantly shifting focus and jumping from task to task doesn't often result in accomplishing business goals. Ultimately, this attempt at being smart backfires in the form of lost productivity and employee burnout.


While the constraints of small businesses are real, there are ways to avoid common pitfalls. Drawing from my personal experience with tech companies, I want to share some thoughts on what hasn't worked well.

  • Copying what's working for large public companies. These companies have an established history and a sizeable sales team that small firms don't have and can't expect to replicate. What works for them is not likely to work on a smaller scale.
  • Broadly marketing to a global audience. The magic behind a small technical services company is in pouring efforts into the slice of the market you're helping–this is your sweet spot. Trying to reach a broader demographic doesn't necessarily increase sales.
  • Dropping thousands of dollars on trade shows. Networking at a major trade show might seem like a no-brainer, but what is the actual return on investment (ROI) for such an expensive event? The truth is, the numbers often don't pencil out, and those dollars could be better spent networking with qualified leads in the spaces you're already in.

Spending company resources on unsustainable sales strategies. While sending out thousands of cold emails might sound like a good idea, the result of such an email blast can be chaotic as team members shift attention from A/B testing emails and digital marketing to preparing technical estimates and holding face-to-face meetings. What initially seems like a simple effort turns out to be too difficult to sustain.

Trust-building: the ultimate small business sales strategy

Now that we've discussed a few sales growth strategies that DON'T work for small tech businesses, let's look at what does. Whether you're a freelancer feeling like you're juggling between a dozen different hats or you're one of the decision-makers in a small firm, it can be difficult to leverage your limited resources efficiently. Without a national corporation's deep pockets or a large workforce, it's crucial to pinpoint the sales efforts that return the highest yield and avoid the rest.


So here's the good news; when it comes to sales strategies for small businesses, your number one selling point is staring back at you in the mirror—you! The current trend in small business sales growth is very relationship-based and network-oriented. Potential customers are looking for more than shiny new products and services; they want a connection they can count on with the people behind the brand. As your unique personality is reflected in your company, you'll naturally bring in the kind of loyal customers you want—IF you earn their trust.

Strategies for building trust with your target audience

Earning the trust of both your existing customers and new leads can feel like a frustrating long game, but it can be done. It's essential to ask the question, "Where can a smaller company compete and win?" And the answer to that lies in the secret sauce of small business culture: relationships.

    1) Build intentional relationships that lead to business.

If you're the owner or leader of a company yielding between five and ten million dollars a year, don't make the mistake of passing customer outreach off to sales reps. Make sure you're personally doing as much of the selling as possible. I'd say that thirty to fifty percent of your time should be dedicated to revenue growth.


And how are you going to accomplish that?


Grow your network. Make the sales calls. Be the trusted, recognizable face that people associate with your company. Let potential customers know that you understand their pain points, and you not only know how to help, you want to help by offering new products and services that make their lives easier.

    2) Establish brand continuity.

Brand continuity is an integral part of maintaining a consistent image throughout your various sales strategies. Companies increasingly use digital media for advertising their products and services, which requires intentional communication of the same messaging across all channels.


This is where you come in. Infusing your unique personality into your digital marketing is a vital trust-building factor. From the way you approach new customers to the way you communicate your story, your target market is more likely to buy into your brand when they feel a connection with you. Keep your messaging consistently authentic, and you'll keep your customers.

    3) Hire growth-minded people who mirror your company culture.

In line with maintaining consistent brand continuity, all the parts of your sales team should mirror your personality and company culture. You don't need lots of salespeople trying to build relationships; that's your job. As you pursue the sales growth of your business, my advice is that you hire around your weaknesses.


My suggestions when looking to hire growth-minded people:

  • Hire people who do the production, podcasts, and video recording for you
  • Add copywriters for email marketing  and social media publishing
  • Contract with SEO content marketing writers and editors
  • Seek out people with good relational skills
  • Look for service-focused contributors
  • Remember: creative and administrative help can come from one person

In addition to these positions and qualifications, I recommend hiring an ROI-focused Creative Director—someone who understands that online growth requires high-quality content. This person will project manage the creative process and start with a small amount of content.


As with many startups, the early years may require one person to step into various roles. If you continue to support the strengths and passions of others while building around your weak points, you'll have a solid sales force.

    4) Prioritize SEO strategies.

The way that search algorithms and SEO work these days is all dialed to expert content. Google, Facebook, LinkedIn—they're all more intelligent than we think they are. Natural language processing (NLP) is critical now and increasing in how important it is to understand how SEO works.


NLP, which is basically artificial intelligence (AI), reads and listens to our content and decides for the viewers, "Is this helpful? Is this what people want?" The question used to be, "Is this what people are searching for?" But we're way past that now. Now it's, "Is this the most helpful result?" Search engines have dialed in what your market needs. Even if they're wrong, we have to play to their rules.


Adding an SEO specialist to your team can boost your ranking on search engines as they focus on SEO strategies such as inbound links, on-page SEO, technical SEO, and keyword-based content strategies. You've got to optimize your content. The result is that your ideal customer will find you, and your partnership can begin.

    5) Focus on consumer education.

Educate your customer base, and they will keep you. Sales and marketing in the twenty-first century center around education. Customer education builds trust, makes your customer a better customer for you, and treats them in a way that fosters a long-term relationship.


Yes, you still have to ask for the sale. But your customer will be asking you to get started and won't be negotiating the price down if you've educated them around how what you do can help them. The reality is, your buyer is sophisticated, very busy, and they have multiple problems. So how can you meet them where they're at?


While you can't change your customers' needs, you can serve the relationship by offering valuable content, solving problems, answering questions, and offering specialized webinars. You're looking to convert your current customers into sustainable customers, and becoming that helpful resource shows that you're committed to serving them.

    6) Prioritize face-to-face interaction.

In this day and age, where texting and email have replaced the bulk of our phone calls and in-person meetings, there can be a void of face-to-face interaction. As a leader in your company, people need to see and hear you. Be the trusted face, the voice of expertise in your niche market. Something happens chemically in the brain when customers can see your eyes and mannerisms.


Foundational human connection is vital in a remote world. Thanks to modern technology, there are many ways to facilitate this. Focus on Zoom calls, FaceTime, send a video along with your email or text message, show up online in live streams. When you're putting yourself out there where they can see you, you know you're going to get more business next year. People get to know you, and ultimately they begin to trust you.

    7) Use social media connections to grow sales.

Having a professional social media presence is a no-brainer in this digital age, but what social media apps are best in the technical services space? Facebook has been the cornerstone of social media for personal and business use for many years now. But let's consider the frame of mind customers are in when they go to Facebook. Most people aren't there to be sold to or make business connections; they're on Facebook to see what their kids and grandkids are up to, to connect with old friends.


LinkedIn is where most business leaders know they can make connections with people in the service industry. If you don't already have a LinkedIn profile, set one up. Start making connections, and add value to the lives of those in your network. The best LinkedIn strategy involves posting some videos, sharing posts from other experts in your space or theirs, and being actively helpful. Do some basic commenting. Follow trends you're passionate about. Have natural conversations.


Using LinkedIn doesn't have to be a huge time-sucker. Create ten good videos and post one of them every few weeks. Re-use the videos (likely, no one will even notice). Publish a niche expert answer on a trending topic for a services company. The key is to get in there, make connections, demonstrate who you are and how you can help. Your network will begin to recognize and trust you for what you contribute to their lives.

Win trust, win a lifelong customer

By winning the trust of your customers, you have a chance to create an ongoing relationship with them. This can be done by meeting their needs and being trustworthy. When this foundation is established, it's much easier for customers to open up more about personal information or preferences. And, as a bonus, they'll likely send you referrals.


The bottom line is, trust isn't something you can tell someone. Trust is something that's displayed across time. We sell trust because so much trust has been broken in the tech industry. As a leader, your job is always to push growth and kick down doors. The measurable results from what you can do yourself are real. You can affect retention metrics. If you lose trust, you'll likely lose the customer. Gain trust, and you've won a customer for life.

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