Trust is one of the fundamental elements that lays under the surface in just about every aspect of business. When you’re in a solid relationship with a client, you probably don’t even think about the trust factor, even though it’s always there working behind the scenes. But when trust is lacking, everything from selling your services, to working on a project, to simple communication can be a struggle. And it can lead to lost clients, lost work and lost income.
We all know that trust plays a primary role in sales – you can’t successfully sell your products or services unless your target audience trusts you and believes in what you’re selling. But as important trust is to making the sale, it’s equally important in each of your ongoing client relationships. Client relationships based on trust, reliability, consistency and mutual respect are vital if you want to create long-term, repeat clients – a must-have for any successful business.
Aside from the obvious qualities that lead to trust — honesty, accessibility and dependability – there are some actions you can take to further enhance the trust factor in your client relationships. If you do these often enough to make them a habit, you will find your relationships are stronger, easier to manage and more sustainable.
No one wants to feel manipulated, but sometimes, it may seem easier to take an indirect approach when talking about an uncomfortable subject with clients (when you’re planning a steep but warranted rate increase, for example). Being open and transparent across the board will make it easier for clients to trust you and believe that you have their best interests at heart.
Follow Through Every Time
Make it standard practice to say what you mean and mean what you say. And then do whatever it takes to fulfill your promises. If you consistently meet goals and complete what you start, your clients will gain confidence in what you do, and more importantly, what you say.
Declare What You Don’t Know
It’s important for you to know what you’re doing and assure the client that you can get the job done. But that doesn’t mean that you need to know everything. It’s expected that there will be areas where you are not an expert, and you can do great things for your relationships when you admit you’re not completely sure about something. In fact, your relationships will thrive if you’re willing to admit there are things you don’t know, and then have a plan for getting the information the client needs.
Listen and Respond
Like many things in life, building trust often boils down to being able to communicate successfully. And part of good communication is listening and taking time to understand what the other party is saying. Make sure you are listening to what your clients are saying, and then responding specifically to each and every concern, request and question. Not only will this cut down on project prep time and make you more efficient in working with your clients, but it will also assure your clients that you value them and their perspectives.
What do you do to build and maintain trusting relationships with your clients?