A few months ago, I was talking to Roger, the owner of a professional services firm in a technical industry. He was concerned because he didn’t think several clients’ projects would be renewed.
"We focus on our technical capabilities, our products and solutions, but we don’t inspire confidence with clients. We struggle with client relationships because our people don’t know how to talk to them, how to take ownership. Even with Zoom and Teams, I can’t be in every single client meeting."
He needed tools for his staff to inspire clients’ confidence in the firm.
Trust isn’t just the chief executive’s responsibility. Every member of the team needs to see themselves as responsible for garnering clients’ trust.
When clients trust you and consider you a trusted advisor, they stay. They’re committed and loyal, which directly impacts the bottom line. In fact, increasing client retention rates by 5% can increase profits by 25-95%, according to research done by Bain & Company.
The professional services company needed to not just retain but delight clients. Over several months, everyone who worked on client projects at the firm participated in our 6-week Becoming a Trusted Advisor Program. Estimators, project managers, engineers, sales support, business development, quality assurance and technical support staff all attended.
Through assessments, practical exercises, tools, group discussions and workshops with peers, they became self-aware. They learned how to empathize, communicate and speak the language of trust; become better listeners and ask better questions; anticipate and manage client expectations and provide value.
They learned the step-by-step process of how to build trust and how to become a trusted advisor.
Clients noticed. One client even called Roger to let him know that the team was doing a great job, the project was going really well, and the scope was increasing despite missing deadlines due to labour shortages and supply chain issues. When you have high trust, clients are more forgiving.
People come and work with your business, make decisions, and decide to spread the word that your services are what you promise them to be.
We know we will be rated, but we do not know which clients will convert the highest sales. Therefore, we treat every encounter with utmost diligence and care.
Here are 4 questions to ask:
When everyone learns how to manage client relationships and build trust, learns how to communicate and listen, to really listen, and learns how to manage the whole client delivery piece and own it, your clients can not help but notice. They will see you as a Trusted Advisor, and you will be rewarded.