In addition to all the other problems plaguing businesses these days, public trust in the private sector generally and in the technology industry in particular is taking a hit. According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, trust in technology companies “has substantially declined” among respondents to its 2020 survey, with just one-in-three saying they believe what they’re told by tech companies. That finding could signal difficult days ahead for solution providers looking to expand their business development.
Now, I know what you’re thinking – the recruiters who buy technology-based talent acquisition products are, in most cases, working for a business themselves. They aren’t buying the solutions for their private use, but rather for their use as an employee of another company. And since that’s the case, business development in this industry, at least, is a B2B exercise, so not likely to be affected by mistrust, which is mostly a phenomenon among consumers.
The latter part of that statement is almost certainly accurate, but unfortunately, it doesn’t let solution providers off the hook. Recruiters may be buying TA products for their employers, but they see themselves as consumers. They’ve taken the focus on optimizing the candidate experience and made it their own. Selling to them, therefore, isn’t a B2B exercise, but instead, a B2B/C one. It’s all about optimizing the consumer experience of a recruiter.
What does that mean for solution providers? Well, like other consumers, recruiters are mistrustful of tech companies. In fact, that’s actually what they’re saying when they complain about “hype” and “technobabble” from the sales people and other representatives with whom they deal. They worry that they aren’t getting accurate information or honest promises about the products they’re considering.
Now before you rise up in righteous indignation, I know that’s not true of every solution provider’s sales reps or every employer’s recruiters. The problem is that it’s true of too many, and those companies and mistrustful recruiters cast their shadow on all of us.
So, the challenge for talent tech companies is figuring out how to develop trust among B2B/C customers in an era when trust has been (and continues to be) badly damaged. There are, of course, a number of factors involved, but the key is to operate with transparency and honesty. They are the building blocks of trust; together, they provide the necessary data for a customer both to make an informed decision about purchasing a solution and to believe that they can do so.
To be successful, however, a solution provider must operate with transparency and honesty in its company and its person-to-person practices.
• In its company practices, a talent tech company must demonstrate a willingness to be open about how it calculates its product’s or service’s performance and committed to sharing the data it collects on the outcomes it achieves. That’s the basis, for example, of the TAtech Traffic Quality Declaration, which is a way for publishers to tell advertisers how they measure and charge for a pay-for-performance job ad. It sends the subliminal message that there isn’t any smoke and mirrors involved, just a clear, unambiguous process that is fair and accurate.
• In its person-to-person-practices, a talent tech company must make transparency and honesty the hallmarks of customer interactions. It’s an overused word, I know, but the foundation of enduring trust – and that’s the only kind that matters – is a relationship. The word, of course, has a host of meanings, but in business development, it must be defined as the customer’s belief that a company’s rep is genuinely concerned about their – the recruiter’s – success. That can’t be done with a biannual sales call or even a quarterly email, but instead requires regular and meaningful engagement.
Given the trust deficit that exists for tech companies generally, any talent tech company that can make trust building an integral part of its operations and person-to-person practices will add trustworthiness to its brand, and that attribute will give it a sustainable competitive advantage in the marketplace.
Food for Thought,
Peter Weddle is the author or editor of over two dozen books and a former columnist for The Wall Street Journal. He is also the founder and CEO of TAtech: The Association for Talent Acquisition Solutions. You can check out his latest books on Amazon or in the TAtech Bookstore.