Seven steps to enable client trust

Only 35% of the public trust business leaders to tell the truth (Ispos MORI, 2015). Consider this, if you lack trust in someone, how likely are you to give them your repeat custom or sales? As sales people, it is all too easy to put the figures and transactions before the people, but we’re bringing you seven simple steps to add the human touch, and enable your clients to trust you.

1.      Get personal

Now, I’m not suggesting you start inviting them to your birthday parties, but an ongoing relationship requires a human element. Try and ask an open-ended question in each conversation you have, from, ‘How was your holiday?’, to, ‘How is the weather where you are?’. You may be worrying that this will make you sound like a hairdresser, but 69% of the public trust their hairdresser to tell the truth (Ispos MORI, 2015), so copying their tactics may not be such a bad idea.

Remember what your clients tell you, make notes if necessary, and follow up themes in your conversation. If they had a cold in your last meeting, are they feeling better now? If they mentioned an event they were attending, how did it go?  

2.      Communicate, communicate, communicate

Figures of trust communicate clearly and openly. They don’t talk in jargon or metaphor, and check that their conversational partner understands what they are talking about. 50% of any conversation should be listening. Focus fully on what your client is saying in your communications, paraphrase if necessary, to check you understand.

For more listening tips, check out our Psychology of Sales Masterclass on ‘The subtle art of listening to your customers’

3.      Respect commitments

Time is the most precious commodity we have. Show your clients that you respect theirs, and their trust in you will grow. Keep all of your commitments, whether this be a conference call or a physical meeting, unless completely unavoidable. Promptly return all communications, and respect scheduled call times, logging in to all conference calls at least two minutes in advance. Observe scheduled finishing times, if you feel a conversation is ongoing, check with your client that they are free to continue it, never assume.

4.      ABCD

No, not the Jackson 5 song. ABCD stands for ‘Above and Beyond the Call of Duty’, which is a direction you should always aim for. If you’ve listened to your client, you should know their pain points. Take the time to consider a work around or solution to any established problem or irritation.

If you have the time, deliver extra on projects or sales. Tokens of appreciation never go amiss, reward loyalty, and don’t be afraid to throw in a freebie now and again.

5.      Be accountable

The cornerstone of being trusted, is being trustworthy in the first place. Never lie to a client, if they’ve asked you a question that you don’t have the answer to, be honest, inform them that you don’t know, but will strive to find out. If they’ve asked you a question you’d rather not give the answer to, answer truthfully, with assurances that you will do your best to reduce any displeasure.

When something goes wrong, and I promise you it will, blame should not be a word in your vocabulary. As Louis Nizer said, ‘When a man points the finger at someone else, he should remember that four of his fingers are pointing at himself’. Take the time to find the root cause of the error, once you’ve established this, you can ensure that it won’t happen again.

6.      Appreciate the power of attention

We live in a modern world, and it has become commonplace for phones and laptops to sit on the table during a meeting. This is where I ask you to buck the trend. By placing your devices on the table you are telling your client, ‘I am here, until something more important crops up’. If they have given you their time for this meeting, return the favour by giving them your full attention. There should be nothing in front of you but your client and a notepad.

Once you have concluded the meeting, provide them with a copy of any notes you may have made, including any points of action you will be taking as a result of the meeting.

7.      Be accessible

A major reason that people trust big brands, is that they know they can get in touch with them at all times. You may not have the resources to emulate this, but ensure you have as much cover with your communications as possible. If you will not be able to access your communications for any length of time, set up an out of office, with alternative communication points, and a schedule for when you will return any messages.

Millennials make up the largest proportion of today’s workforce (Pew Research Centre, 2015), and are characterised by a reluctance to make and receive telephone calls. Cater to this reluctance by providing as many methods of communication as possible. Twitter, Facebook, emails, letters, text messages, and Skype – the only method you should be missing is the carrier pigeon. 

To conclude

These seven simple steps should enable you to build trusting, fruitful relationships with your clients. If seven steps seems too much, just remember this golden rule – your clients come first. You show this with your actions (3, 4, 7), your communication (1, 2, 5), and your time (3, 6). 

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