How are you managing trust with your prospective and current clients?
While it’s true that lots of things have changed in the world, particularly in recent months, some things will always remain the same.
Building trust was just as important 50 years ago as it is today; perhaps more so. This article builds upon our previous discussions about maximising opportunities in sales. This week, we’re going to dig a little deeper into the trust elements of managing potential and current clients.
In the B2B world, when clients trust their suppliers, they begin to depend on them, listen to them, give them access, and spend time with them. This is the kind of relationship we want, right?
Trust is critical for success. Not only in introducing your business, but also managing your clients and their expectations. But, your prospective and current clients are busier than ever and, at the same time, have access to more information and choices. This makes their time harder to get, and their trust harder to both obtain and build upon.
While coaching our clients and discussing strategy and tactics, we’ve found that building trust is one of 6 key drivers of client loyalty, and one of the top 10 actions you need to consider in your engagement strategy. Yet, most potential clients agree that companies could do a better job of deepening and strengthening trust.
Trust is built around four factors: capability, dependability, integrity, and intimacy. Following are seven ideas for building trust for each of these four factors.
Everyone thinks they’re capable- amazing, even. But they’re not. This is called “illusory superiority” in academic circles. People think they’re better at things than they are. What does it mean for trust? We need to be conscious of not overestimating our capabilities. Potential clients are more skeptical when it comes to lofty promises.
Trust in our team’s capability means that prospective clients believe you can do what you’re saying you can.
We’re not talking about trust in the product or service, but trust in the salesperson, the offering and the company. Prospective and current clients need you to bring ideas to the table, to help them find solutions to problems, and give sound advice. If they don’t trust your capability, they won’t accept the advice; we have banged about this in our earlier articles – sound familiar?
Demonstrating your capability in the following 3 ways go a long way towards building trust:
- Be an expert. Too many prospective buyers of services/products report that they don’t trust those selling to them because the representative doesn’t know their stuff. You need to know your buyers’ industries and businesses, competition, marketplace, full set of customer needs, and more—inside and out. You must answer buyers’ questions about your offerings and the market, as well as about the buying process itself. If you want to guide the way, you need to make it your business to be a source of knowledge in all of these areas.
- Know your impact model. Companies that win craft compelling solutions for their clients. The key to making solutions compelling is a concrete return on investment case. Be prepared to discuss, in concrete terms, what results buyers can expect to achieve. If you don’t know the impact model—how you can affect their business—those wise buyers will not trust your business case.
- Develop and share a point of view. Let’s say a buyer says, “Ok, so what should I do?” If you don’t have an answer for that, or if you’re unwilling to develop and share a point of view, they won’t see you as a trusted advisor. Part and parcel of being a trusted advisor is, you know, advising. If you know your stuff, and you know your impact model, buyers will start to trust your competence.
Then, they’ll want your opinion.
Once you give it and they take it, you start a journey. Sometime in the near future they’ll ask themselves, “Was that good advice?” Let’s say it was. Now you have a track record. They’ll be more likely to seek and take your advice from here forward.
- Honor commitments. Woody Allen once said, “Showing up is 80 percent of life.” Successful companies and their teams build trust by showing up and honoring their commitments consistently. Deliver on your customer promise- and do it well. Make sure the people you are dealing with have clear expectations of how you operate.
Everyone has been sold something, and then not gotten what they were promised. You may think your integrity is off the charts, but those buying have been burned before and are suspicious before they even meet you. It’s up to you to demonstrate you have integrity. People won’t just assume it. To do so:
- Demonstrate moral principles. Successful companies and their teams always do the right thing, even in morally ambiguous situations. This can mean turning down business, suggesting alternative (and less profitable) solutions, or referring business elsewhere. Buyers trust sellers who have their best interests in mind.
Often enough those offering services to customers think they’re competent, buyers don’t know it. Those offering services think they have high integrity, but the buyer’s don’t know it. The last two ideas for building trust help with both:
- Create shared experiences. Shared work experiences expose those in the market to your thinking, your work style, and your service/work product. Also, the more time you spend with someone, the more they tend to like you (assuming you are likeable…but that’s an article for another time 🙂
- Be a real person. How often are you told, “Don’t talk about politics. Don’t talk about anything personal. You can ask about the weather, but that’s it. Anything else might get you in trouble.” Yeah, it might, but if you don’t connect with people on a personal level, you’re leaving aside a critical component of building trust.
Don’t be afraid to connect on a personal level.
Companies and teams that don’t work on building trust are missing out on a powerful differentiator and key element in human interactions. Trust is a major part of the business equation, and it never gets old.
So, how are you building trust among new and current clients?
You know you have it in you – make the move – we are here to help you!
Until next week – keep on Scaling Up!
Nick & the Next Practice Team