Ian Bruce, VP and Principal Analyst

Show Notes:

Trust may seem like an abstract concept, but it’s central to the decisions that B2B buyers make, says VP and Principal Analyst Ian Bruce. How can businesses operationalize trust and use it to gain a competitive edge? Bruce explains on this episode of What It Means.  

He begins by sharing findings from a recent global Forrester survey in which B2B buyers compared organizations they trust with those they don’t. Buyers were twice as likely to say that they would recommend trusted companies to others and nearly twice as likely to say that they would pay a premium to continue working with trusted companies. “There’s no question that the benefits that accrue from being trusted are significant,” Bruce says. 

So how do B2B companies build trust equity? First, it’s important to know which aspects of trust matter to buyers. Forrester has identified seven trust “levers” — consistency, competence, dependability, accountability, empathy, integrity, and transparency — with the first three levers consistently ranking most important among B2B buyers. B2B companies should understand how these trust levers work in their industry and market space, says Bruce, and reinforce them through their messaging, actions, products, and customer experiences. He provides specific examples of how to do this. 

Later in the episode, Bruce discusses the interplay between risk and trust in B2B buying. B2B buyers often make “defensive” purchasing decisions to reduce their risk, making trust even more important in these circumstances. Forrester’s survey data shows that incumbent vendors enjoy considerable advantages in building trust, as familiarity breeds trust. Yet companies that are not incumbents can still build trust by investing in thought leadership content and building influence with trusted information sources, including company leaders and industry analysts.  

Listen to the full episode to hear more tips on turning trust into actionable strategies and to learn about the nuances of trust-building in specific industries and regions. And check out the agenda for Forrester’s B2B Summit North America, where Bruce will lead a session on how trust drives buyer purchase intent, retention, and customer advocacy.