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TRUST: The Critical Component in Solutions Success - Does Your Message Match Your Mission?

6 Feb, 2007 By: Darrell Amy imageSource

TRUST: The Critical Component in Solutions Success - Does Your Message Match Your Mission?

Many dealerships are wondering why they are not enjoying
success in the solutions business as fast as they originally expected. 
Sometimes it seems like it takes a long time to establish momentum in this new

Stephen MR.. Covey offers some compelling advice in his new
best seller, The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything.  He
asserts that trust is the most important controllable factor that businesses can
leverage to go to market quickly and profitably. Trust is the one issue that
controls how fast things get done. With a high level of trust, deals often
happen more quickly, which leads to initial lower costs. With low levels of
trust, deals happen slowly (if at all) and any delay can lead to higher costs.

Covey gives the example of Warren Buffet who sold a
multi-billion dollar business to WalMart. The high level of trust that Buffet
brought to the table allowed the transaction to be closed after a brief one hour
meeting that ended in a hand shake. The principle of trust is really important
when a dealership expands into the document solutions business. A high level of
trust can lead to smooth transactions and shorter sales cycles. A low level of
trust can create rough installations and "eternally" long sales cycles.

The Importance of Trust

Most independent dealerships enjoy a high level of trust
with their client base.  This trust has been built over the years by honesty and
consistently delivering responsive service.

The challenge is that the same clients’ that trust you to
serve their office equipment needs may not have a high level of trust in your
abilities when it comes to solutions, such as print management and document

"Simply put, trust means confidence," writes Covey. "The
opposite of trust - distrust - is suspicion." There are two main reasons that
clients who trust you for their copiers may be suspicious of your abilities when
it comes to solutions. First, they know you as a copier company. Your trust has
been built around your ability to deliver reliable office equipment and service.
While you may have connected a printer to their network, implementing a
software-based solution involves another level of competence. Second, you are
affecting the very heart of your clients’ business.  Solutions like invoice
printing or document management are at the core of your clients’ critical
business processes. The stakes are higher than just installing a copier. Before
they can make a decision to implement your solution they need to feel confident
that you can deliver.

An Expanded Definition of Trust

Covey says that there are four components to trust. As you
review these components, you’ll notice that you can have a positive effect on
each area, effectively building the level of trust your clients have in your

Integrity. The first component of trust is what most
of us initially think of. A foundation of integrity is built on consistently
delivering service that meets or exceeds your clients’ expectations.

Most dealerships that have a high level of integrity with
clients were built on a track record of responsive customer service. You may be
delivering trust-building results but the important question is, do your clients
know it? It is imperative to understand each client’s expectations. Then, when
you meet them, to let them know that you did. This enhances your foundation of

Intention. The second component of trust involves
the intangible of intention.  Are your goals to help your clients improve their
business or simply to just take down a high-profit margin solutions
transaction?  There is a big difference and potential clients can smell it!

Is the focus of your solutions program on adding value to
your clients or making profit? We all want to make profits but bad intentions
can quickly submarine a solutions program.

Capability. Trust is also based on your
capabilities. Very importantly, do your clients know about your capabilities
around your new solutions initiatives? Prospective clients that are not aware of
your capabilities will be more hesitant to say "yes" to your solutions
proposals. As you communicate your capabilities, you increase their level of
trust in you.

Results. Trusting is about more than warm fuzzy
feelings. It is also based on results. This is the ultimate bottom line and
frames a client’s perception of you.

Can you deliver?  The answer has to be yes. Go back after
the implementation to ensure all of the objectives were met. And when you do
deliver on a solution, it is important to make sure that your client knows you

Trust Building Strategies

Position Your Dealership as an Expert in Document Solutions.

How do your clients see your dealership? Does your image
match your mission? Do they see you as just another source of hardware or as a
credible source of business-enhancing solutions? As the industry continues to
move forward in integrated solutions, your company must adequately portray your
evolving image as a full service provider. As the goals change, new strategies
need to be implemented to re-brand yourself to your clients to indicate that
your company now provides total document management, encompassing digital
technology, color, connectivity and solutions. Depending on circumstances, even
a name change may be needed to reflect this (see
www.imagesourcemag.com Dec.’06
Centric article). Make sure the message you convey matches the digital evolution
that transitioned your company into a full-service provider. Review the
following suggestions:

A. Be a Credible Source

You can position your dealership as a credible source of
document solutions by adjusting the message you deliver through your sales and
marketing channels.  The goal is to start with where you currently are and
expand on that message. For example, your reps could say: "I realize you know us
as a copier company and I feel we do a great job at that. But we also specialize
in this…"

Your marketing materials (website, brochures, proposal
templates) should also position your dealership as an expert source of
solutions. The combination of a professional image with compelling content can
be the foundation to launch your solutions success.

B. Educate Your Clients

The paradox of education is a powerful marketing tool - the
more you teach someone about a subject, the more questions they have. You need
to educate yourself and your staff well so as to provide credible answers to
your clients and prospects, in order to build trust in your capabilities.
Clients will then come to rely on you, and the end result will improve your
business. Where will you find the most up-to-date, condensed educational forums
to enhance your knowledge? Tradeshows. The leading technology tradeshow, ITEX,
maximizes opportunities for dealers to advance their knowledge in document and
workflow management solutions through a series of innovative educational tracks,
led by the industry’s leading experts and analysts. In addition, hundreds of the
latest product and software solutions in the market today are exhibited on the
show floor, allowing dealers the opportunity to explore new possibilities to
bridge the gap between hardware and software. For dealers wanting to further
evolve, creating their "own brand" of software, ITEX is paramount to seeing and
learning firsthand the "how to" and “why?” and is the forum to exhibit it to the

Other sources to educate your clients on your business
practices should include:

  1. Dealership Newsletter: these profile your company to
    your clients. Industry experts or consultants can assist in this area,
    helping you to educate potential clients as to who you are and what you have
    to offer.

  2. e-Newsletters:  weekly online information to provide
    ongoing company information while incorporating noteworthy industry news.

  3. Custom magazine: creates optimum marketing tool to
    educate your customers on specific business solutions; provides a forum for
    case studies and the benefits of your company specializing in color, print
    and document management.

  4. Website: Clients visit your website when they are considering a purchase. 
    Ensure content educates them on the full benefits of your solutions.

  5. Direct Mail:  Direct Mail is also a great channel for
    client education.  Small messages that educate customers prove your
    competence and entice potential clients to contact you to learn more.

C. Build Sales Confidence

Are your sales reps truly confident when talking to clients
who are having business problems? Or are they simply pulling out brochures in a
defensive posture to keep from losing a sale?

Sales confidence can be built with proper training. Many
sales reps across the country are concerned about their abilities to handle the
technical side of the solutions business. When they realize that the key to
selling solutions is not technical but instead, is about understanding the
client’s overall business problems, many of them breathe a sigh of relief.

Solutions sales training should focus less on technology
and more on identifying and solving business problems. This helps build sales
confidence which can turn into contagious enthusiasm that helps put potential
clients at ease.

D. Demonstrate Your Competence

You may know what you are doing when it comes to solutions
but do your clients?  Often, after a presentation, a thick fog of questions
seems to blow in:

  • What if this doesn’t work?
  • What if the software is too hard to use?
  • Will my people be able to use this?

That’s why you must demonstrate your competency throughout
the sales process.  Your clients know you are competent in installing copiers,
but are you also competent when it comes to solutions? A good way to demonstrate
competency is with good success stories. Coach your sales reps to introduce your
company’s success stories throughout the sales process.

Case studies are also very powerful.  Every time you sell a
solution you should have a case study written on what transpired. These will
show potential buyers that you are able to deliver results, and are worthy of
their trust.

Trust is critical to success in the solutions business.
Fortunately, you can increase your level of trust by making improvements in each
of the four core areas. To learn more, pick up a copy of Steven M.R. Covey’s
book, The Speed of Trust.

Darrell Amy is President of Dealer Marketing Systems (www.dealermarketingsystems.com), a
company providing consulting, sales training and marketing services to help
dealers succeed in the emerging solutions market.  Darrell can be contacted at
214-224-0050 or damy@dealermarketingsystems.com.

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