Chief Executive Insights

6 Tips for Building Trusting Relationships with Customers and Clients

Dr. Allan Colman

Trust builds sales. It drives high engagement, successful delivery, repeat sales, and quality referrals. Demonstrating a high level of commitment and support builds trust and is an absolute requirement for success as an entrepreneur. Coupled with listening, building trust remains the most important tool to win sales and maintain client relationships.   

Prioritize relationship building early in the development stage of your new product or service. Employ multiple tactics to get to know clients/prospects. These same tactics will also help them to better know you and the services you offer.   

  1. Understand their needs.
    Learn what type of communications they prefer from you and what you can expect from them. Do they prefer emails, Zoom conferences, texts, talking by phone? The more you learn about each other, the more you build trust. Become attuned to how their business operates — including the need for their own ethical compliance in client/customer-specific activities. In doing so, an important reversal occurs: They may stop worrying about whether to deal with you and begin worrying about what might happen if they don’t. 
  2. Become a business partner with your customers or clients.
    Become a valued partner by offering rewarding solutions to the issues they’re facing. These solutions may be profitable for both you and the customer. Make sure to protect the prospects’ and clients’ interests when partnering.  
  3. Deal with customer/client problems immediately.
    Give immediate attention and action to any problems or complaints. While client dissatisfaction is never comfortable to handle, you must work to become aware of and take action on problems long before a client disengages. Even when they may seem insignificant, deal immediately with even the smallest issue that arises. Acknowledging it and fixing it quickly leads to a higher level of trust. Once the problem is resolved, let your customer know that you took care of it. Then, when you check in periodically and ask if they have any pending problems or issues you can assist with, you subtly remind them of your previous, positive actions. It’s a form of invisible marketing. Take action, win back their trust, keep the relationship strong and you’ll receive their return business. 
  4. Refer others to them.
    Referring business to your client not only continues building trust, but demonstrates another form of invisible marketing. You are showing confidence in them and your trust that they will work well with your contacts. Introducing them to your other clients and customers and helping them build their business is a sure sign of your trust in them and it’s likely that they’ll reciprocate. 
  5. Utilize business associations.
    Invite your prospects and clients to your business and industry meetings and ask to attend theirs. Within your association, graciously introduce them to others who could help with their businesses. If there’s an interesting speaker at one of your events, invite them. And if you learn of an equally interesting speaker at one of their upcoming associations, ask to attend. By all means, if you’ve sponsored a table at a charitable event, make sure to offer them seats. Keep on building those relationships. These actions will continue to allow clients and prospects to get to know and trust you.  
  6. Continue adding value after a sale.
    Continuing to offer value after you make the sale provides multiple opportunities for building trust. Stay on top of the budgets and schedules you’ve committed to with clients and customers. Develop regular, frequent communications that stress these completion targets. If something goes out of line, don’t hide it — communicate and solve it together. Sharing new developments in their industries or providing some additional solutions to address their needs continues building their trust and satisfaction with your work. Let them know what you and your company are currently engaged in and ask for their ideas and feedback.

Utilizing these six tactics to build trust with clients, customers, and prospects will result in win-win business partnerships. Showing that you’ve listened to their needs and can offer solutions to help them thrive, referring business to them, applying invisible marketing techniques, and adding benefits to their engagement with you will enhance your relationships, your reputation, and that of your company. Your efforts will be recognized and rewarded with future business. 

Written by Dr. Allan Colman.
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Dr. Allan Colman
Dr. Allan Colman is a business development executive, speaker and author. As CEO of the Closers Group, a business development advisory, Colman has spent more than three decades helping law firms and professional service firms generate more revenue. In addition to his thriving consulting firm, Colman co-founded and served as Senior VP of DecisionQuest, and previously served as president of the MCO Company and Litigation Sciences, as well as the leader of a 5,600-employee public agency. He is also Professor of Marketing at California State University Dominguez Hills. His new book is The Revenue Accelerator: The 21 Boosters to Launch Your Startup (Made for Success and Blackstone Publishing, Aug. 23, 2022).

Dr. Allan Colman is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. Connect with him through LinkedIn. For more information, visit the author’s website.