The best way to build trust and improve your relationships - both with clients and prospects - is simple. Show you care about them.
The most successful consultants I know understand that, and managed to make caring their competitive advantage. The side-effects include a strong and healthy network, qualified opportunities coming from word-of-mouth, and amazing client retention. There's no downside to it, and it just makes your consulting practice a lot more enjoyable.
The thing is, you can't simply tell people that you care. You have to show them. And to do so, you have to repeatedly act and perform activities that benefit them:
- By sharing insights that are relevant and practical;
- By exploring different solutions before asking for their business;
- By rejecting their suggestions, when you know they are not effective.
Here are 3 things you can do for clients and prospects to show you care.
Put Yourself In Their Position
Instead of just rationalizing what's being said, try to imagine what the other person is feeling. You can show empathy by mirroring and making more space for the person to open up.
If you pay attention to body language and verbal cues, you can get a lot of insight into how people feel.
Listen Without Pre-Judging
To show you care, you need to listen to their interpretation of the facts without judging them. You might be the expert, but you certainly need time to understand their context, their intimate motivations, or the root of the problem.
Do The "Little Things"
Say thank you, send a private message on their birthday, ask about their hobbies or activities outside work (as long as they chose to share it with you). These seem small but go a long way.
It shows you value the relationship. It signals you put them first.