If you look back on a relationship that you have had over a long course of time - whether that be professional, personal, or romantic - one of the underlying traits of that relationship is likely trust.
Trust comes with time — it isn't effortless and is often an uphill battle. However, when mistakes are made but dealt with in a humble and ethical manner, trust is established. It also happens when there is a personal connection formed, which requires intention.
Trust is tricky because it is hard to define or quantify, but it is imperative to have a healthy relationship — both with a client and anyone you care about.
To establish trust with clients, you have to put aside the business and allow your client to feel comfortable with you and your team. The reward for this relationship can outlast a new sale. A relationship with trust leads to long-term business, which increases the opportunity that this client would recommend your services to potential clients. At Speak, we consider each client our partner and work hard to treat them as such.
How do you establish trust with clients and treat them as partners? Practice these 5 tips.
1. Respect Your Clients
This is the key to getting your client to trust you. If you treat your client with respect and honesty, they will likely reciprocate these traits. If you schedule a meeting for 3pm, be respectful of their time. If you promise something by the end of the day, make sure it is in their inbox, completed, by the end of the day. Be prepared and on time, consistently. If you consistently exhibit the same behavior, trust will begin to build.
Take a moment to put yourself in your client’s shoes and envision the service you would want to receive. If you understand where a client is coming from, it's much easier to form a relationship and meet the expectations they have.
One aspect of respect is proper communication — honest, timely, and proactive communication is key. When engaging with a client, talk in a genuine tone and don’t try to prove your expertise by packing on the jargon. Remember that your clients might know very little about your subject matter, so explain things simply and check in with them often to gauge their level of understanding.
2. Get Personal
If a relationship is strictly business, trust won't come naturally. While it can be awkward to talk about your personal life, adding a personal note to conversations can help both parties feel much more relaxed. Start broad by discussing something they can relate to — sports, college affiliations, or even the weather.
Don’t be afraid to share a bit about yourself. When someone knows about your family, hobbies, or career path, they are more likely to feel as though there is a partnership between the two teams.
Write down details of what they share with you and bring those up the next time you talk.
3. Admit Mistakes and Correct Ethically
We are all human and all humans make mistakes. During the course of any relationship, someone will mess up. If you are at fault, don’t hide the wrongdoing or place the blame on someone else. Pause what you are working on and take the time to apologize. Openly communicate what occurred and have a prepared plan for follow-up.
Confessing and correcting shows that you have the client’s best interest in mind. The way you follow up indicates what the client can expect should something similar happen again in the future.
On the flip side, if a client is in the wrong, allow them grace and communicate that errors happen to the best of us. Create a course of action for getting back on track that involves effort from both sides.
4. Surprise Them
This does not mean showing up to a client’s office with balloons or a bouquet of flowers. These types of surprises do not add much value to a professional relationship. Instead, provide something unexpected that gives added value to your relationship.
If you are managing digital marketing for a client, perhaps you provide a special report that digs deeper than what they typically receive. This example shows how small tasks can provide unexpected value to the client.
Just as you would for a loved one, going above and beyond for a client shows that you value their success. Actions like these build loyalty and increase the chance of a client referring you to someone else.
5. Listen first, respond later
If your work and communication with a client does not reflect the work and service you would want from someone else, you will not garner the trust you are looking for. If you are consistently late for meetings, don’t attempt to form a deeper relationship with a client, and neglect their needs, they will not feel as though you value them as a client.
At some point during your relationship with a client, ask how they think you are doing. Do they feel as though you are giving all you have to offer them? Does the client think that you communicate well? If they have concerns, listen to them and correct accordingly. It's important to listen to understand, rather than listening so that you can immediately respond or defend.
Trust can be difficult to quantify, but with the right gameplan, you will be able to get the sense that your clients trust you and your expertise.
Your current marketing efforts can help you win new clients and build trust with your current ones. If you're ready to stop stressing about your organization's marketing and communications plan, we can help.
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