Build Client Trust
September 23, 2011 11 Comments
If you want to generate repeat business; high quality referrals; larger, more profitable and easier sales, focus on developing a network of clients who trust you. To do that, you need to build relationships. Trust-based relationships are a far surer path to profitability than ‘the lowest price’ offer.
Trusted relationships also lead to reduced transaction costs and are more valuable for the seller and buyer alike. In many cases, clients will often wait a little longer, buy a little more (if you recommend), and even allow you to be a little more creative.
What are the keys to building client trust?
1. Be Professional And Know What You’re Talking About
Stick with your core competencies. Clients want to know that they can rely on your expertise. If the information you relay turns out to be wrong, you create doubt. It’s been said that it takes three positive experiences to create trust and only one bad one to jeopardize that trust.
So, what do you do when you don’t know the answer? You’ve likely read 100 articles stating ‘Don’t make it up or guess’. Well, they are right so I will say no more.
2. Identify Your Client’s Expectations
This is crucial. Clients expect you to fulfill their priorities.
Everyone talks about ‘exceeding client’s expectations,’ but most people seldom succeed. Why? Likely because most people don’t know what the client’s expectations are. They’ve never asked. At most they believe they know what their client expects and strive to meet those mythical expectations.
You have to ask every client. Only by knowing what your client expects can you exceed their expectations. This goes for sales and service. But be wary – clients may inadvertently lie. They won’t mean to – but often they will tell you what they think you, their bosses or their co-workers what to hear.
3. Provide the Best Solution
Clients want to trust that the solution you recommend is the best solution for them. So take your time. Listen intently and don’t oversell. If your needs analysis indicates your product or service isn’t the best solution for them, tell them quickly and professionally. Then, refer them to where they can get the best product or service.
When clients see your business values in action your reputation is sealed. Clients may not purchase from you today, but they will in the future. They’ll also be more inclined to refer you to their networks. Just make sure they know what your unique value proposition and core competencies are for future reference.
How closely your actions parallel your promises will determine your ability to gain a clients’ trust and respect. Keeping your promises can be more important to them than price, competence and even personality.
Often credibility and trust is lost because of a lack of communication and follow-up.
As a professional, you must demonstrate professionalism. Your clients will notice if you; are not confident in what you are saying; don’t listen to or answer the questions they ask; commit to send something and you don’t send it; are consistently late for appointments; don’t return phone calls in a timely manner and a hundred other subtle signals.
The idea that building trust takes a long time is a myth. People begin making decisions very quickly about who they trust.
5. Be Open – with the good news and the bad news.
We’re all good at announcing good news, but no one likes to deliver bad news. The reality is that sometimes you have to.
As a professional you must demonstrate professionalism. Firstly, when something goes really well don’t be shy. Let them know how great it’s been. Let clients share in the success, but be careful not to appear pompous or egotistical.
Also, recognize that bad situations are opportunities for you to look good. Your best defense is candor. If you prepare your client and come to the table with viable solutions you will be seen as a partner not a supplier and your creditability will be boosted. Collaboration and transparency are essential.
If the client isn’t told, most often the problem or issue will become more serious because the client is left to find out on their own with time to prepare.
You must earn your client’s trust and respect—and that trust and respect is maintained over time. The great thing is that trusted relationships with clients are in each of our best interests.
Trust is fragile. Your work depends on it.
Imagine work being easier. Imagine work being more productive.
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