Building trust among your customers is absolutely vital for your professional services business. In fact, customers demand it to the point if they don’t trust you, you risk them leaving you.
Everyone know sales in your field can be very challenging. The days of cold calling and door to door sales are nearing their end. Many business still mostly focus on getting the sale, not the customer relationships. I know you don’t want to hear this, but if you’re thinking mostly what you want, not what the customer needs, you’re setting yourself up to lose customers.
Here are 4 ways to get going on building trust with both your current customers and potential customers.
1. What Customers Really Don't Want
Professional services customers want to be treated with respect and understanding, not just thought of as the next great sales call. Customers see through the “pushy car sales” approach and most of the time they are turned off from it. This often results in a very quick and direct loss of the sale and you might even be told, "go away."
Things to avoid:
- Don't call them just to get the next sale
- Don't talk more than you listen
- Don't pretend to drop by when you really aren't
- Don't answer your phone when you are meeting with them
- Don't ever overstay your welcome. Watch for the que from them when the meeting is done
- Don't let the meeting wander, stay on track and in stay in control of the meeting
- Don't ever be sarcastic or flipant
- Don't pretend that you know some aspect of your product or service when you don't
Customers are people. They're not just the next great commission payout
2. Pay attention to little things
I remember working in my earlier life at a lumber yard. I regularly help construction personnel and building contractors. At the time I didn’t think much of paying attention to the little things, but it taught me an incredible lesson about the sales process and people.
Here’s how I learned this little lesson: Once during the Christmas season, one owner of a medium sized contracting business walked up to me and handed me a large tin of Christmas cookies. I was honestly stunned and asked him why? He said it was because every time that he came to get materials I would ask him something about his life (something I remembered) in conversation and I seemed to know beforehand what he needed to buy on any given day.
Remember things like these to be a great salesperson:
- How many kids do they have?
- Where are they traveling to/from recently?
- What is going on in their lives? Ask how it went?
The goal is to take an interest in your customer and not just care about the sales. That will earn tremendous trust through being compassionate and understanding in business.
3. Social Media Doesn’t Replace Real Life Networking
It is funny how our culture has shifted to saying “I have 400 friends on Facebook” or “I have 900 Business Relationships on LinkedIn.” But, with great irony, once you connect with them you often never hear from them again. A large portion of these interactions are very self-serving. People request to join your network or become your friend to see who you know and who could potentially land them the next big sale. This isn't genuine networking!
It’s not bad to use Facebook or LinkedIn to connect with people and to use those tools to help build relationships with your business customers. But online networks never replace the individual time with a customer. BNI uses a term called a "one-to-one." The "one to one" session is where you purposely meet with that one person and find out things like:
- What is their business about?
- What are their goals in business?
- Who is their greatest referral?
- How can you help to find that next great referral?
- Who are they and what is their business experience?
By investing into the individual intimate time with a customer, it shows that you are interested in learning about them, their business and how you can help them in business.
4. Don’t Get Lost in Outer space
Great you connect with them and have spent a little bit of time getting to know your customer. Keep them in your orbit. How do you build deep trusting relationships? You have to stay in touch with them and not just for a sales call. Here are a couple quick ways to stay in touch:
- Give them a quick phone call
- Send them an email
- If you have their cell phone, send a text
All relationships are about reciprocation between two parties. If you are pursuing them for the sole purpose of “getting the sale” then it ends up being a one sided relationship and typically doesn’t last. Part of good relationship management is helping people to not forget you.
Key Take-a-ways from this article:
Professional Services are all about relationships and building relationships that will earn invaluable trust with your customers. Once you have that trust the amount of referrals increases because you are now in their trust circle. The biggest lesson learned is be genuine and honest with customers and care about them and not just their money. Here are a few more tips:
- Relationships determine the job offers you might get
- Relationships determine the contracts you might land
- Relationships build on the future opportunities you might be presented with
- Take 10 minutes a day and connect with your customers / or future customers