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3 Essential Rules for Winning Trust

Strong business relationships are impossible without trust. Make your customers and colleagues know you can be counted on.
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Trust is a huge asset in every business situation.

While it's possible to do business with people who don't trust you, it takes a lot longer-- and it usually involves complex negotiations and ridiculously detailed contracts.  Ugh.

You're vastly better off winning the trust of your customers--as well as colleagues, coworkers, and employees.  Here's how.

1. Be Trustworthy

This rule seems obvious, but there's more to it than you'd think. The word "trustworthy" literally means being "worthy" of "trust"--that is, you need to be the kind of person who can be depended upon to follow through on commitments that you make.

Here's a quick test. Think over the past six months and list out the commitments you've made that have fallen through the cracks. If that list is longer than one or two items, then you're not trustworthy.  It's really that simple.

If you're not trustworthy, it's a waste of time to talk about "winning trust" because any trust that you win will be strictly temporary.

And beware: If you prove untrustworthy, the ensuing disillusionment tends to be "sticky." If you let down people who (mistakenly) trusted you, they will remember it for a long time.

2. Create a Reputation

If you want to win trust, simply being trustworthy is necessary but not sufficient.  To create a reputation, you must transform your commitments (and your follow-through) into publicly available information.

Whenever you make a commitment, send an email or letter, make blog post, or in some other way create a kind of permanent record that you have done so. (That means, for instance, that a text message won't suffice.) Then do the same when you've fulfilled that commitment.

This habit has the same effect that advertising has on an essentially good product.  It reminds people what they're getting when they do business with you.

3. Add Daily Consistency

Trust builds on consistency, which is why commitments (and their fulfilment) is so important.  If you build up more consistency, people will naturally realize that you can be counted on.

For example: My friend Philip Styrlund, CEO of The Summit Group, changes his voice mail message every day to reflect his current thoughts.  As for myself, I blog every workday (but you probably already knew that).

When people realize that you're capable of executing a simple task, day after day, they naturally believe--correctly--that you can be counted upon to deliver, day in and day out.

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Last updated: Jul 24, 2012

GEOFFREY JAMES

Geoffrey James, a contributing editor for Inc.com, is an author, speaker, and award-winning blogger. Originally a system architect, brand manager, and industry analyst inside two Fortune 100 companies, he's interviewed more than a thousand successful executives, managers, entrepreneurs, and gurus to discover how business really works. His most recent book is Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know. If you enjoyed this post, sign up for the free weekly Sales Source newsletter.




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