“The ability to establish, grow, extend, and restore trust is the key professional and personal competency of our time.” Stephen R Covey.
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.
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 client relationship we want, right?
Why is trust important with a client?
Trust is critical for success. Not only in introducing your business, but also in managing your clients and their expectations. 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.
HOW DO YOU BUILD TRUST WITH CLIENTS?
While there’s a number of CEOs and managers out there that try to quantify ways of accelerating the trend, the reality is that trust is something that takes a long time to foster. Establishing trust takes a little bit of empathy and respect…finding out exactly what it is your clients value. Putting yourself in their shoes can provide some simple – but valuable – insight into what you need to change in your organisation.
Trust is built around four factors: capability, dependability, integrity, and intimacy.
Everyone thinks they’re capable – amazing, even. But they’re not. What does this 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, help them find solutions to problems and give them sound advice. If they don’t trust your capability, they won’t accept the advice.
Demonstrating your capability in the following 3 strategies goes a long way toward establishing trust with your clients:
- 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. Your business needs to be a source of knowledge in all of these areas.
- Know your impact model. You need to offer compelling solutions for your clients. The key to making solutions compelling is a concrete return on investment. You need to be prepared to discuss, in concrete terms, what results your clients can expect to achieve. If you don’t know how you can impact your buyer’s 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.
Honour commitments. Successful companies and their teams build trust by showing up and honouring their commitments consistently. Deliver on your 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.
You have to 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.
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, developing a long-term trusting relationship.
Be a real person. Don’t be afraid to connect on a personal level.
Why is trust important in a client relationship?
Some important things to keep at the forefront of your mind in this context are an emphasis on customer service, being socially active and visible, improving your security, underpromising and over-delivering on your product or service, and finally, having a high level of communication. You need to make your organisation appear as though it’s always available to help its customers.
Organisations can achieve this by echoing Theodore Roosevelt’s message in his famous quote: “Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”. This emphasis on adopting a customer-centric – rather than a money-centric – approach to doing business, ensures that in every possible transaction or thread of communication between your company and a potential customer, their concerns are at the forefront of your decision-making. This establishes a high level of trust.
WHY IS TRUST IMPORTANT IN BUSINESS?
The one thing, that separates organisations from the rest of the pack in this context is trust. Organisations need to turn their attention and resources towards building customer trust through valuing their great customers. Positive and effective communication with your client is crucial, meaning that customer complaints, feedback, and general communication need to be dealt with appropriately. The speed in which you reply to a customer’s email is a pretty clear indicator of how valued they are, and if you’re not setting the standard high in this regard, you’re missing out on one of the most simple ways of ensuring your organisation is developing a trusting relationship with the client. An effective way to manage this is by implementing a quality management system in your organisation.
Client trust is important in business as clients are the core of business operations. Without clients, ultimately there is no business. Therefore, building trust in your small business can allow you to become a better business leader and grow your business.
While it might take a long time to gain your customer’s trust, the harsh reality is that it takes mere seconds to lose it indefinitely. Focus on building trust not only with clients but with your employees. Without employees’ trust, it is difficult to extend that trust externally to clients. Turn your attention to your clients and build trust through a range of avenues including direct communication, word of mouth, and social media.
So, focus on these things when considering how to improve your organisation’s standing. Again, empathy is a key buzzword to refer back to throughout the process, and it will help you identify new ways to improve your services and see how the transaction can be improved as you move into the future.