Good business relationships are built on trust. People who depend on you, from your creditors to your employees, need to confidently rely on you to treat them fairly. Once they know you can be depended upon, they will extend their cooperation and even make allowances for you. This is absolutely critical to your success.
The sooner you demonstrate that you are trustworthy, the faster you will receive the benefits, such as extended credit, loyalty, engagement, priority ranking, increased sales, and opportunities. The key is to be proactive. Look for ways to show all the folks you work with that you have their best interests at heart.
Here’s our short list for how to build and grow trust:
- Communicate Often. Be clear about what you are doing and why. Don’t leave anyone in the dark guessing what you are up to. We recommend regular meetings with creditors, suppliers, outsourced services, and your own team. Alleviate their fears by sharing vital information early and often. The more they know, the more confident they feel about working with you.
- Forge Alliances. Identify who gets ahead if you do and forge these strategic alliances. Treat these folks like business partners, such as sharing your plans for expansion with suppliers who will benefit from your increased business. Discover how you can work together to improve their business while reducing your need for capital, such as long-term contracts in return for free warehousing and better terms.
- Mend Fences. When you make a mistake, don’t try to cover it up or blame others. It will only exacerbate the situation, lose you precious credibility, and hurt the relationship. When you realize you are about to miss a payment, call your creditors immediately. Be ready with a payment plan based on receivables that will bring your account current. This shows empathy for their position and the risk they have taken on you. Remember, you are judged more by how you handle a mistake than when everything goes smoothly.
- Be Honest. If you harbor hidden agendas or deliberately withhold information to trap or manipulate others, this will result in you losing the relationship and your reputation in your industry. Voluntarily expose loopholes to reassure the people you depend on that you will not take unfair advantage of them. Show them you are a true partner, watching their back, not waiting to stab it! Don’t give them reasons to keep their guard up or you will only get the words, and not the spirit, of your agreements.
- Service Your Customers. Nothing says, “I got your money and now you are stuck with my product” more than poor customer service. When you are all over them to make a sale but can’t be reached to fix a problem, you are killing your long-term business security and opening the door for competitors to take your customers. Customer service is more important than the product. Without it, your customers will no longer buy, and will feel an obligation to tell others about their bad experience. When you show them that you are treating them like a friend, they become loyal advocates.
Trust is built on a foundation of good behavior over time. The time involved can be reduced by the telling experiences that build or break trust. In the early days of a relationship trust can be lost easily. The way you handle an embarrassing situation is “the tell” that they are looking for to justify putting their faith in you or regretting the relationship. It takes a lot more than just saying, “Trust me.” You can trust us on this!
Who We Are
Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey co-authored the New York Times bestselling business book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand. The book has been selected as recommended reading in the CEO Library for CEO Forum, the C-Suite Book Club, and numerous university classes on business and entrepreneurship. It chronicles their humble beginnings from the laundry room of a rented Sonoma County farmhouse to the board room of E&J Gallo, who ultimately acquired their brand and engaged them as brand consultants. Barefoot is now the world’s largest wine brand.
Beginning with virtually no money and no wine industry experience, they employed innovative ideas to overcome obstacles, create new markets and forge strategic alliances. They pioneered Worthy Cause Marketing and performance-based compensation. They built an internationally bestselling brand and received their industry’s “Hot Brand” award for several consecutive years.
They offer their Guiding Principles for Success (GPS) to help entrepreneurs become successful. Their book, The Entrepreneurial Culture: 23 Ways To Engage and Empower Your People, helps corporations maximize the value of their human resources.
Currently they travel the world leading workshops, trainings, & keynoting at business schools, corporations, conferences. They are regular media guests and contributors to international publications and professional journals. They are C-Suite Network Advisors & Contributing Editors. Visit their popular brand building site at www.consumerbrandbuilders.com.
To make inquiries for keynote speaking, trainings or consulting, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.