The research is done, the sales pitch is complete and the contracts are signed. While you have every right to celebrate, the journey has just begun. Building long-term and successful relationship will take effort, commitment and trust. In this post I will share 5 tested and proven ways to use T.R.U.S.T. to build trust.
- Transparency – I have never been in a relationship where being open and transparent was not the best option. This can of course mean being open about weaknesses and shortcomings, but open and honest communication in the beginning of your relationship will help you both understand what to expect of each other. It also allows you to quickly and appropriately plan for any areas that could potentially use some outside help or assistance that in the end makes you look like a super planner and sets the ground for a successful partnership. Being transparent may be difficult, but it is way better in the long run than you looking like you shorted a client because they expected more than they should.
- Realistic Expectations – A large part of beginning your business relationship is establishing both goals and a strategy for achieving those goals. With these goals come expectations. Being proactive to address and set realistic expectations will help provide a foundation of understanding as well as help you build timelines that both push you to succeed and allow your client to be confident that progress is being made. No one likes being let down so setting expectations that are manageable and realistic will help you always be the hero in your client’s eyes.
- Under Promise, Over Deliver – growing up I had a friend that had a really bad habit of embellishing just about every story he told. While the story itself sounded pretty good, he often found himself looking like a fool when the reality of it all was exposed. On top of that, anyone who knew him for very long quickly realized this was the case and didn’t much believe anything he said. The same cane easily be true for your clients. It is tempting on the front end to share stories of the glory that could be, but when things don’t quite line up with your delusions of grandeur (shameless Han Solo plug), you end up potentially looking the fool and losing your clients trust and respect.
- Stand Your Ground – this sounds a bit aggressive, but it’s really not meant to be. One mistake I have seen others make (and honestly been guilty of myself) is letting pressure form a client make you do or say things you don’t agree with or believe are best for their company. Being confident in your plans and strategies can be exactly what a client needs to help reassure them of the soundness of the plan. If they question things and you start to waiver, it will only produce a greater level of anxiety than they were already experiencing, causing them to question your thoughts and idea seven more. It is not uncommon that you may incorporate ideas or strategies that a client feels they understand, but that they don’t actually fully grasp. Be confident and be willing to speak openly and honestly with your client when you feel they simply don’t understand what you are communicating.
- Talk, Talk, Talk – anyone who knows me will tell you this is never a problem for me, but I don’t really mean simply talking to talk. An important part of any relationship is constant communication and the same is true for your clients. Often times things that are small issues can become larger ones when a client is left to assume they have a full understanding if what is (or isn’t) happening. Establishing regular communication (through phone calls, emails, etc.) as well as a regular reporting schedule allows you and your client to be on the same page at all times. After all, this isn’t Fight Club…
Not all client relationships turn out to be the happily ever after you hope for, but at the end of the day using the principles will help you to be confident that you did everything you could to make it so.