The most valuable asset you can have is trust. It is vitally important for a successful client relationship. And just like in personal lives, the only way to build a strong and productive relationship is by developing trust.
What are the benefits of trust in a client relationship?
You become influential with people seeking you, for your advice and follow your recommendations without much persuasion. You get valuable information and feedback when client open up to you when they trust you. You can serve your clients more effectively by getting to the roots of the problem and really make a difference for your client. You will get more business, if clients trust you.
How can you build trust?
How to Build Trust
1. Be honest – if you tell the truth, your clients will trust you. Always be honest especially when no one is looking.
2. Respect your client – treat your clients with the same respect you would show the President of your country. Respect their time as well by never being late.
3. Sincerely care – when you truly care about others, it is hard not to trust you.
4. Ask open-ended questions – learn more about your client and be interested in their answers. Open-ended questions give your client the opportunity to tell you about themselves. Ask more questions based on the answers that you get.
5. Don’t be perfect – there is always something fishy about someone who seems to have everything going for them. Don’t waste your energy hiding your mistakes or weaknesses. This sends a message that you’re not hiding anything and that you want to build trust.
6. Don’t look at your watch – we’re all on a tight schedule but looking at your watch when someone is talking is rude. If you must be wary of the time, ask for permission to look at your watch.
7. Find the win-win – in negotiations, always look for the win-win outcome. Win-lose outcomes are one-time only events. When both parties win, you strengthen the relationship.
8. Don’t hedge your answers – be definitive when you can. When you hedge your answers, you are giving yourself an “out”. How can anyone trust you when you keep dodging responsibility. Politicians are notorious for hedging their answers. How much do you trust your politician?
9. Have your clients best interests in mind – clients know when you are looking out for them and when you are looking out for yourself. It’s hard to trust you when there is a conflict of interests.
10. Don’t show off – it puts people off and you come off like a self promoter interested in your own success and not the success of others. This breeds resentment more than trust.
11. Ask others to endorse you – if you prove yourself trustworthy and you offer great products and services, don’t be afraid to ask your clients to recommend you. It’s easier for others to trust you if someone they already trust endorses you.
12. Paraphrase what was said – giving the information back to the client in your own words is a great way to show you were listening and to demonstrate your understanding. People trust others who take the time to listen.
13. Be transparent – I have issues trusting people or companies who are not fully transparent. For example: companies that deliberately hide their prices for their products and services.
14. Call your client – relationships get weaker if you don’t nurture them. Call your clients on a periodic basis, not only when you need to sell them something.
15. Take responsibility – when something goes wrong and it’s your fault, take responsibility right away and focus on the next steps. It’s easier to trust someone who owns up to their mistakes.
16. Take whatever is being said seriously – don’t dismiss another person’s problem as being small or counter with the size of your own problems. Just listen. Whatever they are going through is real and serious for them and you should treat it as such.
17. Add value – value is what people are willing to pay for. Keep doing great work that adds value and others will reward you with trust.
18. Form a common enemy – when you focus on a common cause, it naturally builds trust and rapport to deal with the issue.
19. Be poised – it’s hard to trust someone who gets emotional easily. Breathing helps.
20. Empathize – acknowledge the feelings behind what is being said and show empathy. Your clients will trust you more when they feel that you understand them.
21. Make the client feel significant – this is a basic human need and if you fulfill it, people will trust you. Always be sincere when making your clients feel important. They can tell if you’re faking it.
22. Be accessible – when people know they can get access to you, it builds trust because they can hold you accountable. People who I can’t reach always seem less trustworthy to me.
23. Look people in the eye – if you constantly shift your eyes, it makes people suspicious of you.
24. Remove distractions – if you’re meeting with clients, remove all distractions (turn off phone, computer screen, etc.) and give them your undivided attention.
25. Have high self-esteem – be comfortable with who you are. Don’t try so hard to impress, it makes you look wishy-washy.
26. Show commitment – when you show commitment, people trust you. Think of men who propose (and actually get married), employees who sign employment contracts and people who always show up when they say they will.
27. Say “I don’t know” – admit that you don’t know and say it upfront and direct. You’ll get a lot of credibility for that.
28. Deliver what you promise – Do what you say you are going to do. This is one of the best ways to build trust.
29. Use a real picture – if you have an online presence, use a real picture of yourself. An authentic picture lets me know that you’re not afraid to put yourself out there and you’re willing to be responsible for what you write on your website and blog.
30. Give good advice – if your advice helps people, they’ll trust you and your advice even more.
31. Volunteer information – don’t wait until someone follows up to give information that is important to them. Let them know as soon as you know.
32. Know your audience – make sure you use language that your client will understand. If you’re not talking to a technical person, don’t use technical language.
33. Take time to explain – when your client is confused, be patient and take time to help them understand. They’ll appreciate you for it and reciprocate the next time you’re confused.
34. Don’t abuse privileges – as you gain more trust, you’ll be given more privileges. Don’t abuse those privileges.
35. Don’t fidget – be aware of your body movements. Minimize your leg shakes, body shifts and hand fidgets. It’s hard to trust someone who seems nervous or anxious.
36. Stay up-to-date – your clients’ situation, preferences and needs change over time. It’s up to you to keep up-to-date through proactive communication. Don’t wait for your clients to update you.
37. Give proper feedback – if you want to build trust, you need to tell your client the truth when they make mistakes. “Yes Men” are not very trustworthy
38. Don’t name-drop – you might think this will help build your credibility but when you a drop names, it’s a turn off. It seems like you’re using that person’s name to compensate for your abilities. For better results, have others endorse you (#16).
39. Stand up for your client – if you feel your client is being taken advantage of in any way, stand up for them or at the very least, inform them of what’s going on.
40. Make it personal – get out of the office and meet your clients face-to-face. You need to get personal to build deep trust.