By Maria Geokezas, VP of Client Services for Heinz Marketing

We have turned into a society of skeptics.  As we travel though the interwebs, researching new products and services, it’s hard to know what’s fake and what’s real any more.

Our new research findings shed light on this issue.  We recently conducted a comprehensive survey in partnership with G2 Crowd to better understand how B2B buyers give, interpret and take action from product reviews.  The results surprised us.  Most notably, we learned that negative reviews are not as detrimental as most people think.

What’s most important is authenticity.  B2B buyers want to see a mix of positive and negative reviews in order to believe that the positive reviews are real.  The timing of those reviews matter more than the sheer number of reviews.

As sellers, how do you ensure your reviews come off as real, believable and trustworthy?  Here are 7 tips we picked up from our research.

  1. Offer more than a couple reviews. To make it believable, you need to offer more than just a handful of reviews.  Our research found that 61% of buyers would like to see 11-50 reviews.
  2. Reviews should be current. 66% of buyers would find those reviews more valuable if they were provided in the last three months.
  3. Don’t hide negative reviews. Balanced feedback from customers portrays a realistic scenario for your product.  67% of buyers actually want to see a good mix of positive and negative reviews.  Setting realistic expectations before the purchase, results in happier customer experiences after the purchase.
  4. Engage with reviewers. Reply to new reviews within 48 hours.  Encourage open dialog with the customer.  Thank them for the review, make sure they know there’s a human behind the scenes.
  5. Respond to negative reviews with poise and honesty. Make sure the customer knows you understand what they are going through and ask clarifying questions to understand their entire experience and context for their review.
  6. Be transparent. If there’s an issue, take the time to educate and explain how the issue is resolved. Involve your product and training teams.  Your customers will value having the insight from customer training and product development.  And potential customers will get a feel for how you value your customers.
  7. Don’t be shy about asking for an updated review. If there is an issue, once it is resolved, ask the customer to write a follow-up review to demonstrate your responsiveness and how the pain was addressed.

To learn more about how buyers use B2B reviews, join Matt Heinz and his two guests, Nancy Nardin, founder of Smart Selling Tools and Adrienne Weissman, Chief Customer and Marketing Officer at G2 Crowd as they discuss the implications of this research for B2B sellers.