Over the last two years and change of being a self-employed person, one of the biggest lessons I've learned is that what determines if someone will do business with you isn't just if the person knows you or has a need that your business can meet. What really determines if business will occur is whether or not the person trusts you. And if you break that trust you not only lose business, but also have a dissatisfied customer who will tell others why they shouldn't do business with you. The reason for that is simple: Trust is about relationships and relationships are never just business. There's always an element of the personal as well in business relationships.
Trust sells, and what that really means is that getting a sale involves doing a lot more than just presenting information. It involves developing a relationship, where that person will feel taken care of no matter what happens. To illustrate that, think about where you choose to shop. Generally you aren't just shopping at a place because of the product, but also because of the service, or how you expect people will treat you. You could choose other stores, but if you consistently choose one store over the others, it's usually because there is a relationship there. The basis of that relationship might be lower prices, but as you get to know people who work in the location, the relationship becomes more personal and on some level you start to care, at least enough to justify continuing to shop at that location, even if the prices change.
How do you cultivate trust? Trust is always earned, so if you want to cultivate you need to look at the activities that will create trust. Consistently offering good information can help build trust, a little bit, but to really build trust you actually need to get to know people, which means you need to get involved in the communities that you want to get business from. Getting involved with those communities means actually spending time in them, participating in whatever way you can, and showing a willingness to become part of the community.
Trust also sells because people who trust you don't feel you will push anything on them. In fact, a good sales person knows the importance of following up, but also the importance of giving space and letting the buyer make the decision. It's not really the sales person who makes the sale, but the buyer who does because s/he knows s/he needs the service your business provides. The role of the sales person is to ask questions, listen, provide answers to questions, and build a relationship that justifies the trust the buyer places in the sale person when choosing to buy a product or service.
After the sale's been made, it's important to maintain the trust that was earned. Consistent delivery of service helps, but making it a point to get to know the person and comment on other areas of his/her life is also a good practice. It shows you care about the person. Better yet, if you can refer that person to someone who can solve a problem you can't solve, it shows the person you were listening and wanted to help him/her without money as a motivation for doing so.
Trust is the foundation on which business thrives. Without trust, you are just one person among a crowd of other people vying for attention from your prospect. So the question is: What will you do to stand out to your prospect and more importantly become a person s/he will continue to do business with? The relationships you create and sustain are the relationships that also sustain your business. Trust sells people on doing business with you.
Tips for building trust:
1. Follow up when you say you will and show up when you say you will. By showing consistency, you also show that you are dedicated to making the effort to follow through on what you will provide the person.
2. Go the extra mile for your client or prospect. When a prospect or client emails with a question, I'll call the person and make the effort to talk with them about the answer. I could just dash off an email, but doing so doesn't provide that personal touch that making a phone call will.
3. If your client tells you of a problem s/he is having, think of how you can help out. Even if you can't provide the service, it doesn't mean you don't know someone. By helping your client and a fellow business person you can build trust with two people who will appreciate the effort.
4. Even after you finish providing service follow-up with your client. Keep him/her informed about the latest trends or about new information that can help him/her. That way when your client needs your service again s/he will turn to you.
5. Make the extra effort to get to know your client and if s/he offers a business service, make the effort to use that service. Being able to inquire after a client's family or partake of a service s/he offers shows that you care about the client and you also believe in the client's business. It shows the client you are invested in his/her success and also his/her happiness.