RESEARCH REPORT

In brief

In brief

  • Salesforces perceived as "Trusted Partners" reach higher quota attainment by a factor of 25 percent.
  • On the flipside, the absence of trust has significant negative impacts on sales and growth, causing reduced win rates and longer sales cycles.
  • Chief Sales Officers (CSOs) can leverage analytics and human-centered design to identify and instill trust behaviors, making trust a sales capability.


What every CSO needs to know about trust

Eight out of 10 executives cite trust as a major driver of customer business, and lack of trust as a reason why customers defect to a trusted competitor.

Our experience shows that the absence of trust has significant negative impacts on sales and growth, causing reduced win rates, longer sales cycles, and lower referral and renewal rates.

If trust is so critical to sales, why aren’t more companies making it the foundation of their sales process? Because they don’t see it as a quantifiable capability. But it is. CSOs that leverage analytics and human-centered design can teach their salesforces trust behaviors, instilling it as a core value and capability. It’s worth the effort. Salesforces perceived as "Trusted Partners" reach higher quota attainment by a factor of 25 percent.

If trust is critical to sales, why aren’t more CSOs making it the core of their sales process? Because they don’t see it as quantifiable. But it is.

Baking trust into sales culture

When CSOs use analytics and human-centered design to identify what trust behaviors look like—and teach their salesforces the right ways to earn customer trust—we see a significant increase in trust-related competencies and activities over time. Two areas in particular stand out: account relationship mapping and win/loss reviews.

Account relationship mapping

Different sales teams may use different flavors of relationship mapping but all use it for one core purpose. It helps them understand—and be brutally honest about—sales relationships.

Mapping sheds light on the level of trust between a client and sales team, where trust sits, and any fault lines that need to be addressed. Teams that create a relationship map, aligning it to buyer values and value propositions, position themselves for a successful outcome. We also see teams that map gain confidence in their sales approach, particularly for complex sales.

Win/loss reviews

Companies that conduct win/loss reviews see an 18 percent jump in win rate, when done correctly. Yet, less than half (48 percent) of firms conduct them. Creating win/loss review discipline is part process and part culture. Leading sales organizations that make win/loss reviews a formal part of their sales process give themselves an advantage. They can feed critical information from each review into their sales analytics platform. As that information grows and becomes insight, these sales teams continue to learn, improving their sales effectiveness as they go. That same information provides benefits that stretch across the front office, from marketing and product insights, to differentiated sales approaches, to lessons in customer service.

18%

Companies that conduct win/loss reviews see an 18 percent jump in win rate.

Trust is not a solo sport

Sales teams miss an opportunity when they see themselves as only responsible for bringing in customers and landing deals, instead of also acting as guide for the customer’s journey. Aligning the customer buying journey to the sales process is key to establishing trust and growing it. Almost half of companies we survey don’t do that.



CSOs who partner with their customer experience counterparts emphasize the end-to-end customer buying journey, ensuring the whole is greater than its parts. This holistic focus shifts away from siloed tasks and toward teams that work together for customer outcomes. It flips the mindset from "how do we sell" to "how do our customers buy." This is human-centered design. And it works. Accenture’s B2B Customer Experience research shows high-performing companies get 40 percent more revenue return on every customer experience dollar invested.

Link sales and customer service teams

Aligning the customer buying journey to the sales process is key to establishing trust and growing it. Almost half of companies we survey don’t do that.

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Putting the trust in "trust me"

CSOs with trust-based sales teams achieve more than their lowering performing peers, confirming trust is not only the right thing to do by your clients, it’s also the profitable thing to do. Here are a few things we see high-performing sales organizations focus on that can help your team optimize performance:

Know, don’t guess

Use talent analytics for insight on how high-performers exhibit trust. Then hire, train and replicate that high-performer model—turning insight into outcomes.

Monitor trust proactively

Establish a trust quotient baseline. Then identify opportunities for improvement and development. Next, prioritize and act on these opportunities.

Partner with your customer experience leaders

Link customer journeys to the sales process. Leverage human-centered design and design thinking to develop trust offerings and unique trust-based customer treatments.

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About the Authors

Jason Angelos

Managing Director – Accenture Strategy


Mark Gaylard

Managing Director – Accenture Strategy


Keith McInerney

Managing Director – Accenture Strategy​


Gregory Solomon

Senior Manager – Accenture Strategy

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