Trust – a firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone or something.


Trusted relationships have multiple benefits

The first thing you notice when you start to build trust is that people tell you more.  Not just more in quantity, but qualitatively more too.  Information that was previously deemed too sensitive to share, is now passed on.  Initially with a caveat of “just between you and me” and later without caveat as they trust your sense of discretion.

As you learn more, you find ways to help more.  You get to introduce other products or services.  More broadly, you see opportunities to spread work across your own business network, introducing other providers to your client.  These other providers then want to help you in return, leading to more new opportunities.  And your trusted client is happy to act as a reference, helping you realize these new opportunities.

There are financial benefits too.  Your clients are less likely to challenge your prices and more likely to pay on time.  You will also get more support in any dealings with procurement.

You’ll spend less time chasing work through time consuming and arbitrary proposal processes, which will greatly reduce your costs of winning business.  And, where work is put out to tender, your clients will make sure that you have the information you need to make a compelling bid.

As your relationship develops, you will start to feel that they respect you, and that they are ‘on your side’.  This can show itself in many ways:

  • they will forgive the occasional mistake, and where these occur they may even shield you from the consequences, perhaps even from your own organization.
  • if they see any threat, they will alert you, so as to preserve the beneficial business partnership they have with you.
  • they are also likely to recommend you to others, both inside their organization and beyond.

Any disadvantages? 

There are no real disadvantages to a trusted relationship other than requiring you to invest time and energy, and to look after your client’s interests.  This isn’t always easy.  As Daniel Goleman notes in his book Social Intelligence:

“Stars in these fields do not approach a customer or client with the determination to make a sale; rather they see themselves as consultants of sorts, whose task is first to learn and understand the client’s needs – and only then match what they have to those needs.

Should they not have what’s best, they’ll say so – or even take a client’s side in making a justified complaint about their own company.  They would rather cultivate a relationship where their advice is trusted than torpedo their reliability just to make a sale”. 

Choose carefully

While rapport and a basic level of trust can be established in a single conversation, building deeper trust takes time and effort.  Not every business partner is looking for a trusted relationship so choosing the right relationships to nurture is critical.  Building trust demands investment and you want to invest wisely.

Three questions it pays to ask yourself before investing:

  • Do you like the other person? It is odd how in our personal lives we recognise that another person knows when we do not like them, but in business we tell ourselves that we can fool people.  FACT: If you do not like the person you’re dealing with, you are leaving business on the table.
  • Is the other value-focused or do they focus wholly on price? In the second scenario it can be an uphill struggle to change their perspective to one that focuses on value.
  • Does the potential value of the relationship justify the time and effort involved? Where the other person sees your product or service as low value and a commodity, consider investing in a relationship with more long-term potential.

Answer yes to all 3 and you’re good to go.  Answer no to all 3 and you’re better to stop.  In between and you have a more difficult decision to make!

Trust is a precious

We all value trust, and trusted relationships should be treasured for the benefits they bring to both you and your clients.  For real trust, you must commit to knowing your clients intimately, and ensure that you put their interests first.  That takes effort, but is worth it – your clients will feel the extra value created, and you will reap the rewards. delivers business relationship and sales skills training to executives, professionals and sales teams around the world, helping build business trust.

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