Trust is as vital as any factor in developing successful business relationships – and is at the core of the strategies we pursue in our Profitable Partnerships Programme. In an effort to engender trust earlier in the relationship-building process, many professionals spend huge amounts of time and money trying to establish credibility.
The key to building trust with clients, allies and prospects lies in recognising what leads people to trust us, and in having strategies that help to demonstrate our trustworthiness. Establishing credibility is certainly one element, but just as important are building rapport and demonstrating reliability.
Credibility is all about self-presentation – how professional do we come across; how user-friendly is our website; do we have sufficiently glowing client testimonials? This is all a necessary precondition for building trust, but it is far from sufficient.
Rapport is quite a different matter, and is far harder to develop than a website. It is a question of empathy and showing that we understand the client’s concerns, asking clarifying questions and engaging with them in a two-way discussion.
Of these elements of trust, reliability is the slowest and most difficult to demonstrate. Credibility and rapport are generally established up front, whereas reliability requires that we can show our ability to make and keep promises.
Thus, the key factor in building trust is having a system to keep promises. This could involve directing someone to valuable resources, inviting them to an event, or sending them your client bulletin or newsletter.
The important thing is to recognise the role of trust in business development, and to employ a strategy to build trust as quickly as possible. Fee earners and partners alike who follow this route can reap the benefits.