By Bill Tsotsos
The dictionary defines “trust” as “an assured reliance on the character, ability, strength or truth of someone. As advisors, we want assurance that each of our clients places his/her trust in us. We also know that trust has to be earned.
Here are 5 ways to earn your client’s trust:
1. Become a good listener – Your client wants to be both heard and understood. According to the authors of The Trusted Advisor, “we must listen effectively and be perceived to listen effectively, before proceeding with any advisory process. Effective listening earns us the right to comment on and be involved with client’s issues.”
2. Focus on your client’s needs and wants – Clients want their advisors to take a proactive, holistic and collaborative approach to client service. While they appreciate the laser-like precision of a subject matter expert, what they really want is an advisor who will see the broader and longer-term picture. Help a client develop a strategy to exit a business 10 or 15 years from now. Nothing will earn your client’s trust faster than showing that you really care about his business.
3. Play the role of quarterback or head coach – Many clients have complex issues surrounding their business, problems that require the expertise of more than one person. You can earn your client’s trust by assuming the role of facilitator assembling a multi-disciplinary team of experts that will solve or even prevent a problem. Clients are looking for a trusted individual to put together this team and be the point of contact.
4. Know your client better – Do you know your client as well as you should? You can earn your client’s trust by knowing his top concerns or challenges in business and making it your objective to solve those issues. Your client may not feel comfortable in raising these issues. Be proactive, ask thought-provoking questions, and listen to understand.
5. Add value beyond your core competency – An advisor can earn his client’s trust by adding value beyond his core competency. For a CPA, this might consist of suggesting, establishing, and implementing an informal advisory council or board of directors for your client. For a financial advisor it could be connecting your business owner client to a cost reduction specialist or a business growth consultant. A trusted advisor is always thinking of ways to help a client make or save money.
Earning trust is part art and part science like wine aging in a barrel. The end result should be just as enjoyable.
Bill Tsotsos consults with professional advisors on earning a client’s trust. He can be reached at (951) 834-2023.