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Building Client Trust

How to gain trust

How do you gain the trust of your current and prospective clients, as well as colleagues, subordinates and others with whom you do business or want to do business?

One of the best ways to build trust is to always deliver on your promises and commitments. When you commit to follow up on an issue, take ownership and do just that. A common mistake and “trust-buster” is failing to regularly communicate your status and not keeping the involved parties adequately informed. You know how frustrating it is when you are waiting for information that is vital to your business, so avoid becoming the cause of frustration for your clients, prospects or colleagues by applying great follow-up skills.


Another way to build trust is to establish ongoing relationships by keeping your clients and prospects top of mind all the time and demonstrating that you are thinking about them and their business concerns. For example, if you read a newspaper story, online article or blog that may be of interest to a client, prospect or coworker, forward the link or copy and send the article. Include a short personal note about how the information may interest or affect them, whether positively or negatively. Your short note or interpretation is a value add, which is particularly effective in demonstrating that you are keeping them in mind. An enhanced opportunity to demonstrate your sincere interest exists when you encounter an article or some information that enables you to leverage a third party’s perspective to support an idea, product or service you may have already under discussion with them.

By maintaining regular contact, clients and prospects learn to trust your motives and intentions and will be more receptive to considering your advice or proposal. To establish a trust-based relationship with a prospect, do your homework and learn as much as you can about their business and about the person with whom you plan to meet. When meeting for the first time, do not begin the meeting by selling your firm’s services, but instead take the time to learn about the prospect’s business, and look for ways to help them.


Skillful and tactful questioning will get your prospects and clients to open up and share information and insights to help you understand their needs. Ask well formulated, open-ended questions to open up a dialogue that allows you to learn about their business and the challenges they are facing.
Another great way to begin building trust is to stop and listen to the answers to your questions. Use the popular 80/20 rule and create a dialog where you are listening to the client 80 percent of the time and speaking only 20 percent. You may find this approach difficult initially, but with practice you will uncover important information, learn more about their needs, and signal to the client that you value and place great importance on what they have to say.


When building trust, it is essential to provide flexibility and room for collaboration. Provide possible scenarios and options when offering ideas and advice to clients and prospects to actively engage them in the process. Clients who are actively engaged often allow a deeper level of interaction and provide more perspective into preferred or alternative outcomes. By offering alternatives and providing options, you empower the client to think about how each offering impacts their business. Take the time to thoroughly review and discuss each option from top to bottom. Full disclosure will help formulate a positive impression about you and your firm.


Include and highlight both advantages and disadvantages, demonstrating that you, as their advocate, want them to see all sides before making a decision. Knowing the client’s desired outcome enables you to make better decisions and develop a proper plan to achieve success.
To be considered in good faith your ideas must be perceived by clients to have their best interest in mind. Providing options that are not in the client’s absolute best interest are usually quickly discovered, if not by the client, then most certainly by your competitors. If the client perceives, or worse, determines that you have placed your own interests before theirs, the trust you have worked so hard to build will quickly be lost. The best client solution may not always yield the most profit or best scenario for you and your firm, but helping a client with the best solution for them opens the door to future opportunities.



12 Tips

1. Be true to your word and follow through with your actions

The point of building trust is for others to believe what you say. Keep in mind, however, that building trust requires not only keeping the promises you make but also not making promises you’re unable to keep. Keeping your word shows others what you expect from them, and in turn, they’ll be more likely to treat you with respect, developing further trust in the process.
 
2. Learn how to communicate effectively with others

Poor communication is a major reason why relationships break down. Good communication includes being clear about what you have or have not committed to and what has been agreed upon. Building trust is not without risk. It involves allowing both you and others taking risks to prove trustworthiness. To navigate this, effective communication is key. Without it, you may find the messages you’ve intended to send aren’t the messages that are received.
 
3. Remind yourself that it takes time to build and earn trust

Building trust is a daily commitment. Don’t make the mistake of expecting too much too soon. In order to build trust, first take small steps and take on small commitments and then, as trust grows, you will be more at ease with making and accepting bigger commitments. Put trust in, and you will generally get trust in return.
 
4. Take time to make decisions and think before acting too quickly

Only make commitments that you are happy to agree to. Have the courage to say “no,” even when it disappoints someone. If you agree to something and can’t follow through, everyone involved is worse off. Be clear about what you have on your plate, and keep track of your commitments. Being organized is a necessary part of building trust with family, friends, and colleagues. It enables you to make a clear decision as to whether to agree to requests of your time and energy.
 
5. Value the relationships that you have—and don’t take them for granted

Trust often results from consistency. We tend to have the most trust in people who are there for us consistently through good times and bad. Regularly showing someone that you’re there for them is an effective way to build trust.
 
6. Develop your team skills and participate openly

When you take an active role in a team and make contributions, people are more likely to respect and trust you. It’s also imperative when building trust in a team to show your willingness to trust others. Being open and willing to make contributions and to engage demonstrates this. In other words, take what others say into consideration, show that you are listening actively, suggest your thoughts and feedback in a respectful way, and demonstrate that you are willing to be part of the team.
 
7. Always be honest

The message you convey should always, always be the truth. If you are caught telling a lie, no matter how small, your trustworthiness will be diminished.
 
8. Help people whenever you can

Helping another person, even if it provides no benefit to you, builds trust. Authentic kindness helps to build trust.
 
9. Don’t hide your feelings

Being open about your emotions is often an effective way to build trust. Furthermore, if people know that you care, they are more likely to trust you. Emotional intelligence plays a role in building trust. Acknowledging your feelings, learning the lessons that prevail, and taking productive action means that you won’t deny reality—this is the key to building trust.
 
10. Don’t always self-promote

Acknowledgment and appreciation play an important role in building trust and maintaining good relationships. Recognizing and appreciating the efforts of others shows your talent for leadership and teamwork and increases the trust others have in you. On the other hand, if people don’t demonstrate appreciation for a good deed, they appear selfish. Selfishness destroys trust.
 
11. Always do what you believe to be right

Doing something purely for approval means sacrificing your own values and beliefs. This decreases trust in yourself, your values, and your beliefs. Always doing what you believe is right, even when others disagree, will lead others to respect your honesty. Interestingly, when building trust, you must be willing to upset others on occasion. People tend not to trust those who simply say whatever they think others want to hear.
 
12. Admit your mistakes

When you attempt to hide your mistakes, people know that you are being dishonest. By being open, you show your vulnerable side, and this helps build trust with other people. This is because they perceive you to be more like them—everyone makes mistakes. If you pretend that you never make mistakes, you’ll make it difficult for others to trust you because you have created an unnecessary difference between the two of you. When all that a person sees is the “perfection” you project, they likely won’t trust you.




 

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