Just for a moment, try imagining yourself in the shoes of a small business owner (maybe you are one already, in which case that shouldn’t be too difficult). Every purchase you make for your business is critical. Not only from a financial standpoint (you simply don’t have enough resources to withstand many “bad decisions” when it comes to choosing a supplier), but also because your business is your life. It’s not just a job- it’s your livelihood, your passion, your everything.
The irony of this is that while nearly every purchase a small business makes is of incredible importance, there is a complete dearth of places for them to find objective, trusted sources of information about suppliers’ reputation. To put it another way- small business owners are often left to fend for themselves in the face of make-or-break decisions choosing a supplier. That is a scary proposition, that is unfair, and that needs to change.
Here are four key questions that a business owner must consider when evaluating a supplier and deciding on a purchase:
- 1.) What reputation information do I need to decide if I can trust this supplier?
- 2.) Where can I find this reputation information?
- 3.) When do I need this reputation information?
- 4.) How can I remember where to find this reputation information?
At Kinnek, we’ve spent the last six years researching the answer to question #1. After analyzing billions of dollars of quotes and speaking with hundreds of thousands of business decision-makers, we finally arrived at the optimal set of reputation information that business owners use to make major purchase decisions. We learned that they want to see verified customer reviews, trade association and organization affiliations, awards, certifications, verified marquee sales, and featured products, among other information.
Now that we had our answer to question #1, we took those learnings and developed our answer to question #2- Kinnek Reputation. Kinnek Reputation gives suppliers a state-of-the-art company profile where they can showcase the exact information that their prospective customers are most interested in to inform their decision-making processes.
So we now had an answer to questions #1 and #2 above. But, that still left questions #3 and #4 unanswered. When and how would a business owner get their hands on the invaluable reputation information that existed on suppliers’ Kinnek profiles? The answers to these questions are not just important for business owners- they’re important for suppliers that are trying to sell to those business owners. It can mean the difference between controlling your sales funnel, and leaving it all to chance.
The question as to when business owners need this valuable reputation information about suppliers is pretty obvious from looking at the data itself (of which we have mountains). Consider these figures:
- 94% of businesses look up prospective suppliers online. (Source: Acquity Group “State of B2B Procurement Study” 2014)
- 45% of businesses change their purchasing decision based on what they find online. (Source: Google B2B purchasing study)
- 30% of businesses research a supplier’s reputation even after receiving a quote from them. (Source: Kinnek user data 2011–2018)
So business owners are definitely looking up suppliers, searching for reputation information, and changing their decisions based on what they find. The answer to question #3 is “as soon as the business owner starts interacting with the supplier.”
So let’s take stock of where we’re at now. We have answers to the first three questions- we know what reputation information business owners need to know about suppliers, we know where they can find it (Kinnek, of course!), and we know that business owners need it as soon as they start interacting with a supplier. But what about question #4- how can the business owner remember where to find the information they need right when they need it?
Enter the latest addition to the Kinnek Reputation product- Trust Assistant.
The Trust Assistant is based on a simple learning from our years of working with thousands of B2B suppliers:
In the business world, commerce is powered by deep interactions between buyers and suppliers. Buyers often interact with a supplier multiple times before ever deciding to purchase.
Dropping things into a cart and proceeding to checkout without ever interacting may be something consumers are used to when it comes to e-commerce, but businesses do things differently. They meet each other at trade shows and industry events. They have site visits. They interact via email and phone calls and ask questions long before they’re ready to purchase. They get custom quotes and proposals and consider them before making a decision. Because of this, we wanted to find an effective way to get the reputation information that business owners need while they are interacting with suppliers- right while the conversation is fresh.
So how does Trust Assistant work? When a supplier emails a prospective customer that they are interacting with (whether it’s sending a quote to them, providing a brochure, or just answering a question), they simply bcc email@example.com. Kinnek’s Trust Assistant system will automatically send the latest version of that supplier’s Trust Report directly to the prospective customer- filled with information about the supplier’s verified customer reviews, affiliations, awards, certifications, verified marquee sales, and badges earned- with absolutely no manual work needed.
It’s like having a dedicated assistant whose sole job is making sure your company’s reputation is always in top shape.
The prospective customer gets the exact information they need about the supplier during the interaction, and they receive it from a third-party, objective source that verifies and validates what they’re seeing. It’s not just a bunch of empty claims on a supplier’s own website. Just check out how amazingly useful a sample Trust Report looks:
For a supplier that sells to business owners, this is magical. You can ensure that your prospective customers find out about you, in a way that is trustworthy and third-party validated. And at the most optimal time during the decision-making process where the prospective customer is actively seeking this type of information about you. For a business owner that craves an objective source of truth about suppliers before you decide on purchases, imagine how empowering it is to have a Trust Report sent to you for every supplier before you make a decision. It can change the way you think about your business’ purchasing risk- and it’s all delivered right to your inbox, without you having to remember anything!
We’re so excited to share more about Kinnek Reputation (and it’s awesome Trust Assistant feature) with the world! If you’re a small business that wants to learn more about how Kinnek Reputation can help you learn more about your suppliers, or if you’re a supplier that sells to businesses and wants to learn more about how you can use Kinnek Reputation to build trustworthiness in the eyes of your customer base, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (800) 784–3151. We’d love to chat more!
Karthik Sridharan is co-founder & CEO of Kinnek.
A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, he was formerly a Researcher at AQR Capital Management. He’s passionate about helping small businesses, breakfast cereal, the Utah Jazz, and mangoes.