At The Covenant Group, we work with entrepreneurs to teach them how to build trust and client capital at every stage of the relationship.
This is needed not just during the business development and sales cycles - which include setting your mindset, targeting prospects, engaging them, committing to ongoing service and expanding your operations - but also throughout the time the person is your client. After passing the buying stage, it's now necessary to transition into relationship management.
In The Business Builder, Norm Trainor explains engagement in more detail. When in an initial interview with a prospect, you will discuss the You/Me/Us/We model, setting up a rapport, describing your purpose, providing an example of how you two can work together and then asking for permission to advance along the sales cycle. Down the line, if this conversation is successful, you will have to continue working to earn clients' trust by making them feel safe and secure. Trust not only serves as a lubricant to facilitate a smoother client relationship, it is also beneficial later, when you are seeking referrals and introductions.
There may be instances where something goes wrong and you damage the trust that a client has in you. When this occurs, you must work to repair the damage. It can happen to anyone, "where things have gone south and we're prepared for the worst," Andrea Howe, co-author of the Trusted Advisor Fieldbook, recently told the Forbes blog. "But it's how we handle it that makes or breaks trust, not the circumstances."
How do you continue building trust with a client? Have you ever damaged that relationship? What did you do to smooth things over?
As Howe notes, bad situations can be remedied more successfully if we work to show vulnerability and sincerity rather than trying to make up for it by proving competency. Acknowledging when you are at fault, genuinely apologizing for the mistake and working tirelessly to rectify the problem are all steps in reasserting your commitment to the advisor-client relationship. Doing so may also present the opportunity for your client to reassert his or her loyalty to your company.
"Without high degrees of trust we can all muddle along," Howe says, noting that being a "trusted advisor" has the potential to be a differentiating factor. "If you want to differentiate you need to make trust part of your everyday thinking and actions."