Moving from a sales funnel to a trust funnel – lasting success through trust

In many cases, a traditional sales funnel doesn’t quite cut it. A trust funnel represents a better alternative, especially for B2B marketers. Why? Because it takes the entire lifecycle of the customer into account and not just the sale alone.

A sales funnel follows customers up to the point of purchase, while a trust funnel spans the entire customer lifecycle.
Image: © opolja / Adobe Stock

Why a sales funnel doesn’t quite cut it in B2B marketing

As strategic tools, marketing funnels offer a wide range of advantages in terms of addressing customers in a targeted way. Traditional sales funnels aim to systematically increase revenue; they primarily concentrate on the customer journey starting from when traffic is generated up to the point of purchase. However, especially when it comes to B2B marketing, where the main focus is to maintain long-lasting and profitable customer relationships, you have to think beyond the end of a mere conversion funnel, i.e. beyond just the purchase.

In particular, the aspect of cross-selling in a diverse portfolio of products or services is hardly taken into consideration in such a one-dimensional and self-enclosed approach. As a result, the sales potential will not be fully exploited in the long term with just a mere sales focus because customer satisfaction and customer retention achieved through trust are playing an increasingly greater role in terms of gaining a competitive edge.

A trust funnel extends beyond the selling phase

This is where the “trust funnel” model comes in. Unlike the classical sales funnel, this concept focuses not only on generating sales, but also on building and strengthening trust. The alignment and objective of the trust funnel approach therefore shifts toward customer relationships, which allow you to increase your sales figures on an ongoing basis.

In this sense, the traditional funnel approach – attract, engage, convert – expands beyond the purchasing phase and considers the entire lifecycle of the customer. Establishing a trust funnel can help you systematically build and strengthen the trust of your customers and keep them loyal to your company.

Building customer trust through credibility

Within a trust funnel, the building and strengthening of trust as well as the consolidation of close customer relationships are reflected in all phases of the customer journey. Starting with the initial interactions with potential customers, it is therefore essential for companies to not only make them aware of the brand and range of products and services, but also convey a maximum level of credibility at the same time. Typical touchpoints where trust can be built are:

  • A professional and easy-to-use website that focuses on user interests, providers relevant background information on the company, offers suitable ways of contacting the company, and highlights the topic of data protection
  • Well-maintained social media channels that are regularly updated with content relevant to the target audience and are also actively and meticulously managed with regard to direct customer contact
  • A clear positioning of the company in terms of continuous PR work
  • A regularly updated corporate blog on the company’s website that conveys know-how and specialist expertise and offers practical tips
  • Professional, high-quality and helpful flyers, brochures, or other documents
  • High and consistent visibility of relevant keywords in search engine results

Systematically reinforcing the positive impression of customers

It isn’t just the first impression that counts! To reinforce the trust of customers and strengthen customer retention in a sustainable way, it is crucial to avoid undesirable gaps within the customer journey. The better your company presents itself as an all-in-one service provider, the more positively customers will perceive your brand. Whether quick response times, dedicated and motivated employees, or an attentive, skilled and helpful support team – meeting or even exceeding the expectations of your customers massively contributes to establishing a relationship of trust.

Tip: Another way of specifically reinforcing positive customer perception in a trust funnel is through strategic partnerships, for example with associations, trade journals, relevant industry giants, or suitable influencers. Due to the special bond of trust between thought leaders and their communities, influencer marketing in particular offers enormous potential for transferring this trust to your brand.

Creating comfort, convenience and transparency for purchasing decisions

As a potential sales deal draws closer, it is incredibly important to reinforce the customer’s purchasing decision. There is no room for any doubts or preconceptions here. How easy and convenient is it to purchase something at your company? Are there obstacles that could lead customers to abandon or terminate a purchase? Do you receive sufficient feedback from existing customers to continually optimize your purchasing process? How visible are informative reviews of your company and products?

In this context, dealing with information and your own business model in a transparent way also plays a key role: a certain degree of tact is needed for this, especially with regard to negative reviews in the B2B area. Unfortunately, in practice, companies frequently only react to positive customer experiences. Of course, these are a precious resource for brands, but with an eye to acquiring happy, returning buyers and building lasting trust, many customers regard transparency, honesty and clarification in response to negative reviews as an important distinguishing feature.

The trust funnel: after-sales is just as important as the sale itself

In contrast to the sales funnel, the trust funnel doesn’t stop the process after the conversion, but rather draws on the positive effects of consistent aftercare, for example through:

  • Personal contact in order to collect customer feedback after a sale
  • Personalized newsletters
  • Extensive support, for example to assist with the implementation of products or to solve problems
  • Tailored (content) offerings that create added value after a purchase, e.g. care and maintenance instructions, assembly and installation manuals, or best practice guides

Word of mouth works: the trust funnel lets you turn buyers into loyal advocates of your company by fostering a good relationship with them over the long term. The value of such brand ambassadors should not be underestimated. When they share their positive experiences with your target audience and make personal recommendations, you will ideally already gain a decisive lead in terms of establishing the trust of potential new customers. The trust funnel thus goes way beyond the sales funnel approach and puts the customer experience and customer success at the forefront of your business activities.