One commentator once speculated that hiring a business advisor was equal to that of choosing a baby sitter. When business leaders make a leap of faith and go outside of their world to find someone to help there is often a feeling of trepidation to name but one of their many emotions. That is why it is essential to build trusting relationships with your clients.
The Trust Equation One of the ways to understand trust is to decipher the trust equation. Give it a go.
T = (V * I)/PR
And to help you a little more.
V = b-c
As you ponder on this, give some thought to the types of behaviours that might go to build trust in the eyes of a client. Some experts talk of being more client-centric and empathising with them. Yet these effects need to be demonstrated through considered and intentional behaviour and choosing how you want to be. So you want to know the answer? Now turn the the back of the book!
The Answer Trust is built through demonstrating (V) value. This is easily measured if you ask the question “what is the client gaining from our interactions?” Our hint v=b-c indicates benefits minus costs give value. You might be saving them time, saving them money, or even helping them avoid a potential hazard ahead. All of these point to making your conversations more focused on them and, where necessary, highlighting specifically the value they are actually getting.
Trust is also built upon the (I) intimacy of your relationship with your client. Professional intimacy is really how close we get when we do business. Some clients may appear stand off-ish, or rather cool in their communication. That’s OK, we can respect everyone’s personal and emotional space. Yet, with permission, sharing anecdotes and stories, experiences and points of commonality can build bridges to a relationship that may in the beginning feel a little cool. When you reveal others reciprocate and we get a little closer. Find the human overlaps you have with your client and focus on those to increase intimacy.
Where all your good work can come undone is when you and/or your business are a perceived risk (PR). Note this is as perceived by your client and may or may not be real risk. It might spring from actual events or from hearsay about reputation eg ‘I hear you got it massively wrong on a project you did for xxxx’, or ‘a friend of mine worked with you before and said you always over-promised and under-delivered’. Sometimes the ‘you’ might be you the person or you the business. There might be a risk that your client is fearful that you will hold a light up to their own shortcomings in the eyes of their own business. If your client senses in what you say or generally how you are, a risk – they will hold onto this throughout their decision making process. Minimise this by putting yourself in their shoes, slowing down (don’t appear impulsive), sharing stories (respect confidentiality) to reinforce your track record, and reassuring them that they are in safe hands.
Some Catseye wisdom Timescales may vary when building trust. Some individuals bestow it very quickly, others take time more time. However, the more time you can invest into the elements that go to make up trust the more robust your business (and personal) relationships will be. Good luck with this! It works … trust us.