“Trust is the foundation on which all relationships rest”.
Trust is huge. There are a number of books out there that look at trust. I recently re-read Stephen M.R Covey’s book The Speed of Trust. It suddenly hit me while reading that trust is a continuum. It is never an event you arrive at.
This is something most people and businesses understand but few will have the patience for. Especially when they're not seeing the growth or revenue they want. The levels of trust that truly generate massive results beneficial to companies and their customers take time and intentional effort to build.
I explored the idea of the different levels of trust in business through a survey of 200 customers through Qualtrics.
We analyzed how customers perceived trust at different stages with their suppliers and the “Client Trust Continuum”™ was born. It identifies 5 levels of trust that determines your ability to grow new opportunities, increase revenue and deepen your relationship.
5 steps of the Client Trust Continuum ™
L1 - Credible trust
Demonstration of some value, showing an understanding of the client. Evidence you could solve a problem or help them get better.
L2 - Relational trust
Doing business together, delivering on what you’ve said. You now have more access to the client and regular communication.
L3 - Collaborative trust
Client comes to you with updates, needs and opportunities for your opinion, support or recommendation. You demonstrate good understanding of their business and creatively help them build a solution that helps them meet a goal.
L4 - Influential trust
Because of the first three, over time the reputation you build within your client allows you to get deeper into that business. You're given access to richer and inside information about the client and further ways to help.
L5 - Intimate trust
At this level a client and the major stakeholders in the organisation trust you without question. They share their hopes, fears and concerns. You are part of their decision-making process (rather than just finding out the result).
Most sales professionals stay at the credible trust level. It’s those top tier account management professionals who are able to earn access of trust at the influential trust level. What we should all be aiming for is level 5.
Now we know these levels, let’s see how we can apply these into our customer conversations. I’d like to focus on 3 of the most powerful and underrated qualities to develop trust that moves us in a progressive and meaningful way to level 5 where you and your client benefits.
3 Powerful Characteristics of Trust Champions
Do what you say when you say it. Be accountable for your actions. According to Covey’s research in a 2002 Golin/Harris poll, “assuming personal responsibility and accountability” was ranked as the second highest factor in building trust. Great leaders and high character professionals build trust by first holding themselves accountable then holding others accountable.
Deliver results always. Simple, but one of the fastest ways to build trust and reputation where fear gets taken off the table is to remain consistent. This immediately amplifies your brand of reliability and puts you in a new category of the ‘go to person’.
Empathy (show you care and are concerned)
There is a lot written on empathy. One of the most recognizable traits of those with empathy is they present and are deep listeners. Roosevelt once said “People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care”. It’s very true. Your ability to demonstrate empathetic qualities by being present, listening and showing understanding goes a long way. It can eliminate fear and get you to thereal reasons behind the reason, which help you to help others more and gives you unrivaled access and competitive advantage.
Which characteristics would you say should be added to this list when building trust in client relationships?
Comment below and let’s talk.