Recent years have produced a multitude of “new” sales methodologies and approaches – many that propose themselves as effective strategies for building long-term loyalty with customers. Uncovering hidden needs, adapting to the way customers buy, assuming the role of a business partner or consultant and even teaching are some of the popular conceptual approaches to selling in the Era of the Customer.
Yet two foundational and interdependent concepts remain fundamental to driving long-term customer loyalty: reciprocal trust between a buyer and seller, and the flip side of the same coin, the buyer-seller relationship.
In this study we set out to examine these concepts and their impact on long-term loyalty, testing our hypotheses with a survey of more than 1,600 consumers in the largest markets worldwide1. Our findings pinpoint the antecedents and consequences of a Trust-Relationship model and show that, far from diminishing in importance, these concepts are vital today in driving sustained sales success.
Trust plays an essential role in any relationship. During an exchange of value in an economic relationship trust becomes particularly important because buyers experience some degree of risk, usually financial – and potentially social, functional, temporal, and others. If the salesperson acts in an unreliable, misleading or unfair way, the customer risks being hurt in one or more of these ways. This holds true in buyer-seller engagements across business-to-consumer and business-to-business sectors.