The NFL season opened Thursday, September 7th, with the Kansas City Chiefs versus the New England Patriots. In the pregame show on NBC, they ran a clip of Patriots’ Coach Bill Belichick addressing the football team of the high school he attended as a teen. In his message, he said, “Trust is not given to you. It is earned.”
Do you do what you say you are going to do? Do you get the job done? Always? Do you do so without reminders or follow-up?
I am in the third month of using a new virtual assistant company, and my account manager is both diligent and committed to excellence. Yet as I would with any new employee, I will feel compelled to check the work until we have an established track record of mistake-free projects. That is just a part of the trust-building process.
It’s no different with our clients. When you promise to return a phone call, submit a proposal, or get back with certain information, do you always (and I do mean always) meet your agreed upon timelines? Most people do not. Most will come through with the proposal or the phone call or whatever it may be, but often not in the time they committed to.
As a business owner, if a vendor promises something to me at a certain time, I plan my day around that and get my team ready to act upon receipt. If the deadline isn’t met, not only does it wreak havoc on my schedule, it also tells me that the vendor does not really respect me or my time, which in turn undermines my trust.
Here are three simple techniques I use to build trust with new clients and ensure I do not erode trust with my existing clients:
- Make reasonable promises and protect your timelines. Whenever I need to make a promise to do something, I always lengthen the timeline to account for an emergency or unexpected issue. For instance, in the case of a proposal, I tell the client they can have it in two to four days, but I usually deliver it to them that very day or the next one, depending on my travel schedule. It’s easy to get trapped in overpromising because we want to say yes and help others, but that can lead to disappointing the customer and losing the trust edge. Always strive to exceed your customers’ expectations.
- Make the most of your calendar tools. I schedule my phone calls in Outlook Calendars with an alarm. It sounds simple, but sometimes we overestimate the power of our memory and neglect to use simple tools. Let your calendar drive your actions. Even if the news you have to communicate is bad news, it’s better to deliver it on time than avoid the situation.
- Treat your word as gold. You can lose your house, your possessions, and your money, but you can always start over if you have your WORD. If people trust you, they will back you in your new ventures. But if you lose your word, it will be difficult to get anyone to support you when times are tough—or even when times are good for that matter.
Of course I have not always succeeded in following all of my own advice. But because I have failed at times, I know there is no valid reason to not keep your promises, and I know that it’s costly to fall short.
As a Sales and Leadership expert, I have seen that earning trust takes daily dedication and commitment. One little mistake can be a serious setback. Be vigilant and become known as a trustworthy vendor and partner. A reputation like that delivers a value that will not fail you.
APOLOGY- A previous version of this blog post used a title containing the words Trust Edge. In fact, The Trust Edge is the title of an excellent book by David Horsager as noted above. A book I have bought in quantity and given to clients. We apologize for the mistake and have made the necessary changes.