This article is a continuation of Part I in our series on trust: “Why Trust is Essential: How to Build, Create, Maintain, Enjoy and Prosper From Well Earned Trust”.
If you haven’t yet read it, here’s a link to read Part I now.
When considering business and professional relationships, (with clients, your team and your stakeholders such as vendors and others) the four most common elements described as “prerequisites” to trust are (not in the order of importance) the clear perception of:
1) Core Competence of the skills that meet their needs,
3) Integrity and
4) Enhanced Communications, Persuasion, Influence & Manipulation.
Without any one of these, it can be difficult or impossible to create the trust needed for a sustainable and successful collaboration. So let’s consider #1 – #3 quickly. Then we will review #4 in Part III of this series.
1) Core Competence That Matches Their Needs A business or professional relationship is doomed if there is a gross mismatch of skills and experience with the services or solutions you provide. You and your team will need to identify and then to clearly exhibit and emphasize areas where you excel. Let’s face it…you’re not good at everything. And, you really excel at certain types of work and for certain types of clients who are concisely happy with your work. But don’t assume that the clients or prospects know what you’re good at and what matters to them. You have to explain what matters AND why you have what it takes. How do you do that? Build videos, FAQs, books, checklists, reports, blogs, testimonials and other resources that help them to know and understand what matters and why you’re the best choice i.e. that they can and should trust you with that particular type of work. Write a great book that alerts them to your competence. And because the world is ever changing, you’ll also need to assure your clients and prospects not only that you have qualifications, experience, trust of others, and specific knowledge but also, that you have a way of identifying important changes in the market place or in their needs and of letting them know that they need to adapt, upgrade or change solutions.
NOTE: Many of our best clients (and the ones most likely to return for more work and updates to wills and trusts) ask us how we will alert them when laws change.
Profit Producing Strategic Trust Exercise One:
If you want to trigger better practices and higher satisfaction, trust and profits ask and answer these questions. This exercise is fast and effective. Do you have similar and highly motivated clients that want to know more? Who are they (age, gender, geography, network, what they buy from you and others, etc.)? How are they different from “bad” or poorly matched customers or clients who are never satisfied with your work and who rob you (with constant complaining) of the time you need to do a great job for the great and well matched clients/customers?
NOTE: It can be very powerful to have a perfect client description (who you’re going after) and who’s a bad match profile. Finally, don’t assume that your client/customer knows and understands the issues facing them at the same level and in the same way that you do. They want and need reassurance that you have knowledge and experience but they may not express their worries, problems and concerns in the same language as you, your sales and marketing materials, and/or your customer service staff. Find out (by carefully listening and asking) how they define and discuss their hopes, fears, and anxieties as well as their wants, needs and desires. Notice, respond to, and record their concerns and expressions. Use their language to let them know that you have competence and that you pay attention. When they hear you speaking a language that they understand they are more likely to start to trust you.
For example, trust and estates and elder law attorneys are fond of writing about “Medicaid” trusts and “Grantor” trusts. But clients don’t understand those expressions. They think about “protecting assets from nursing homes” and “being able to stay in my own home for as long as possible.” So the lawyers should use marketing materials that use that language. Then there is trust that they really understand the client. You build trust when you show them that you understand them and then educate them as to the solutions to THEIR SPECIFIC PROBLEMS.
2) Expected and Demonstrated Reliability Although important in all relationships, reliability may play an even bigger role in business relationships (than personal) and it is often essential to maintaining trust. If one person in a business repeatedly falls short, misses deadlines or fails to follow through on a promise or expected action, the others are likely to lose trust in that person. Come to think of it, this is probably just as vital in personal relationships. If I tell my spouse I’ll take out the recycling and consistently fail then she won’t trust me to do it. I’ve started to erode trust. Without having confidence that everyone is making promises that they can keep and goals that they can achieve, it can be a challenge to maintain a collaboration or business relationship. This takes education. Start building the expectation of reliability, the experience of reliability and the recognition of reliability.
Profit Producing Strategic Trust Exercise Two:
Do you need clients or customers to fill out paperwork or to do a survey or preparation before an appointment? Then explain to them what to do, and how to do it most easily, and why it’s so important. Make this part of your Standard Operating Procedures. This builds trust and increases compliance right from the start. Do you need them to prep for consumption/use/installation of your products or services? Explain why it matters to them and how to prepare. Give them resources to make their job easier. Accurately predict what they will need and they will begin to trust you in all aspects of the customer/client relationship. Do your buyers ever complain after purchase? Early on, set reasonable deliverables and goals. Then make it a practice and a system to “over deliver” even on simple matters where it’s easy to do. Then gently remind them what you just did for them. “It was our pleasure to….”, “We just did X but if you need any other help then….”. That surprises them, gets noticed, and builds trust. Keeping trust – Once trust is formed the other party (client or team member) is also more likely to forgive an occasional sin or error….because they trust you… but setting a pattern of failure will cause a loss of trust that you’ve worked so hard to build. Have follow up procedures that are proven to work and to benefit you and the client/customer/patient. Then execute consistently, furiously and reliably. You can automate some of these. More on that later. A great resource on systems & automation is the “The E-Myth”.
3) Integrity & Leadership Would you ever enter a collaboration or business relationship, if there was a risk that someone was going to swoop in, gather up all of the work, take credit, and present it as their sole project? Or if you felt that they would take it and compete against you? No. And neither would I. Each person in a business relationship must consistently demonstrate integrity. This also reminds us that leadership in a business team the willingness to put aside ego and to listen to possible solutions that might be better informed and more creative than your own. When others recognize that you will share the benefits of success with them and that they are a real member of the team, they will be more engaged and responsive. They will trust you more and you’ll reap the benefits of that trust. So make it a point to get the team members and clients and customers involved in the process. How do we do this? We tell clients that we’re going to spend a few minutes educating them about things that they may not know. For example, my clients may not know until we tell them that they can protect a son or daughter from losing an inheritance to divorce. We tell them what we’re going to do and why. Then we do it. But we also assure them we will be quiet and listen to what they want. And we do. But only after we’ve offered them many sets of options to consider.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, leads us to a really important topic to be discussed in Part III of this series: “Enhanced Communication, Persuasion, Influence and “Manipulation”.
To Read Part One: link to read Part I now
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