Everyone knows the way to build a business in through loyal customers, repeat business and referrals. But how do you know you will get these when you first work for a new customer? Here are eight ways to make it almost full proof.
1. Be a knowledgeable professional. Customers tend to trust contractors that are serious about the work they are doing. Demonstrate that you have a deep understanding about the industry and the special needs of the work entailed. This can be shown by certifications, being a member of organizations or associations that are linked to your particular job set.
2. Be yourself and personable. No one likes to feel they are being given a sales pitch from a used car salesman or manipulated into buying something they did not want. So instead of talking like a salesman, simply speak to them like a friend or colleague by just stating facts, letting them guide the conversation and make the final decisions with you only supplying suggestions and answering questions.
3. Be curious about the customer and value the relationship. People are drawn to and remember others who show true interest in them. Notice things that can become points of the conversation. Make notes of the points discussed to include next time, a crucial element of relationship building. You both must believe that you honestly have something of value to offer, to the customer and the business relationship.
4. Be consistent. A customer must build trust that you are going to do what you say and can believe it will be the same over time. Once a customer can predict your behavior, they are more likely to trust you and recommend you to others. This is why it is so important to only say what you know you can deliver.
5. Seek and say the truth. Trust comes when the customer feels you are working in their best interest not yours. Make it a point to discover areas where you can give them what they want or could need but never be afraid to tell them when something is out of your normal scope of work and may be better performed by someone else.
6. Have a real dialog. As mentioned before every discussion should be a conversation, not a sales pitch or lecture. Spend at least half of the time listening to what they need, want and are expecting for the results. Make sure that most of the conversations are about the business at hand and not just mundane chit chat, about the weather, etc.
7. Keep an open mind. You may know absolutely that this customer needs what you can provide and the exact best way to do it, but the customer may think you may be self serving and close minded about other options it they have reservations with your methods. Be willing to concede that there is more than one way to skin a cat and if they can not be put at ease with education about your processes, be open in telling them that they may be happier with someone else doing the work for them. They could sense you may have their best interest at heart and proceed. But even if they don't it is better to have a 100% satisfied customer who will work for you, than a dissatisfied customer that was left feeling slighted hindering your future business.
8. Show integrity. Take a stand for your company, even when it may be unpopular with your customer, but you do not have to become adversarial. Make decisions based on what you know that is right and legal. Do not do something for a customer you know is not kosher. And as stated before, never say you will do something you can not deliver.
Trust is only one part of the business customer relationship, but once gained it will help to improve your business ten fold. You must of course also have a service the customer wants and needs and will want to ask you to perform again for them and others going forward.