March 1, 2023
Trust. It's a quality that's difficult to quantify but impossible to do business without. What differentiates good from truly great distributors is their ability to cultivate trust on a sales call, at the counter, and anywhere there's a customer-centric interaction. Natalie Doyle Oldfield specializes in helping organizations build, manage, and protect their trust equity. Her book The Power Of Trust and companion programs are essential guides for creating a culture of integrity. Jason caught up with Natalie to discuss the impact that authenticity and empathy have on a distributor's bottom line, plus best practices for improving trust at every phase of the customer journey.
"We build trust through interactions." Natalie's eloquent reminder forms the framework for her evidenced-based, customer-focused counsel. After 25+ years in various marketing and communication positions, including chief marketing officer, Natalie shifted her focus to a more entrepreneurial role. Now she develops strategies for companies struggling to secure customer loyalty. Her research indicates that building trust is an activity that should extend to folks well beyond the sales force. "The receptionist, the driver, the person in shipping is extremely important to the experiences we have with a company.” Natalie’s proprietary system uses a step-by-step process to engage every employee in the safeguarding of the company's trust quotient, regardless of their official capacity.
More trustworthy (and more profitable) interactions begin with compassionate communication. "A lot of what we do is spend time learning how to be empathetic, how to be better listeners,” says Natalie. She’s identified three main components that can strengthen trust-building: how we communicate, how we behave, and how we serve. The behavior piece is often difficult for distributors to address, says Natalie, and can become detrimental if neglected. "Trust affects company growth, distributor relationships, referrals, operations, and efficiencies. [ ] When you have higher trust, revenues go up, and loyalty is impacted. The propensity to continue to buy goes up."
Worried about telegraphing real-life trustworthiness online? Natalie says automation needn't be devoid of authenticity. "You can still show you're listening carefully [and] with empathy.” Ultimately, it’s transparency that inspires trust online, not complex procedures or costly infrastructure upgrades. And trust transforms relationships.
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"There's a bit of a stigma around sales, but the reality is, in all our businesses, nothing happens until a sale is made."
"Trust is a skill. You can cultivate it, develop it, and learn it."
"You can be the best communicator in the world, but if you don't walk the talk and you don't act in my best interest, and have poor intentions, and your motives are not sincere, you fall down."
"Anyone who's customers-facing has a part to play in the customer's decision to trust and the customer's decision to continue to buy and the customer's decision to recommend."
"The only competitive advantage many companies have––because there's so much choice out there––is the relationships they have with the customer."
"Simple clarity inspires trust."
"It all comes down to trust. It's the foundation for customer experience. It's the foundation for deciding to buy, deciding to refer."
Distribution Talk is produced by The Distribution Team, a consulting services firm dedicated to helping wholesale distribution clients remove barriers to profitability, generate wealth and achieve personal goals.
This episode was edited & mixed by The Creative Impostor Studios.
Special thanks to our sponsor for this episode: Profit2, helping distributors charge the right price.