Posted 8th February 2012.
Author and expert on Trust in Business, Charlie Green, reveals the best ways for professionals to build trust to turn potential clients into paying clients.
Charles H Green needs no introduction (but I'll give him one anyway).
As author of Trust Based Selling, and co-author of the absolute classic, The Trusted Advisor and the recently published follow-up The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook, Charlie's built a name as THE expert when it comes to trust in business relationships.
I caught up with him on skype recently to ask him about how professionals can build trust in their relationships. In particular, in their marketing and business development when they're “courting” a potential client.
Listen in, and you'll hear some of the most powerful, yet simple advice you'll ever hear on building strong trust-based relationships.
If you're new to Charlie's work – or just want a reminder of all his great material, head over to his website:
The Trusted Advisor
And take a look at the recently released Trusted Advisor Fieldbook. It's got a teensy weensy contribution from me (but don't let that put you off – it's an excellent book!)
And click here for my step by step approach to becoming a trusted advisor.
Posted 27th December 2009.
Twitter is a bit of an enigma for most professionals. Can it be used successfully for business development? Is it an effective use of time, or a huge white elephant?
And while many commentators are pointing to the tailing off of Twitter’s previously phenomenal growth rates and the low usage amongst client decision-makers; some professionals are quietly going about their business using Twitter to win new clients.
One of the most common criticisms of Twitter is that “it’s just inane chatter”. People tweeting about what they had for breakfast, how much they enjoyed the latest episode of their favourite soap, or a joke they’ve just heard. And in all honesty, that was my initial reaction to Twitter when I was first encouraged to use it a couple of years ago.
The most common riposte to this criticism is to point out that many people don’t just tweet inanities. They tweet useful commentary or links to resources, articles and blog posts. “People are tweeting sensible stuff” they say, you just need to follow the right people.
But both sides are missing the point to some degree.
The fact is that most adult conversation is “just inane chatter” too. When we’re with our friends down the pub, talking to clients over coffee or colleagues by the water cooler we’re rarely sharing valuable business insights. Most of the time we’re talking about what we saw on TV, our plans for the weekend, what Bill in accounts is doing with Jane in HR.
We don’t build relationships with clients and colleagues by “talking shop” all the time. We do it in the gaps between business conversations. We open up a little and talk about what interests us, our views on the news, what annoys us and what makes us laugh. We talk about our family, our football team, and the funny thing we saw while on the way in to work.
David Maister (who as far as I'm aware isn't on Twitter himself) sums this up brilliantly when he says “The key to being a good communicator is talking when there's nothing to talk about”. Whether it's in your personal or business life, if the only time you talk is when there's an issue to talk about, then you're not going to build a relationship. You can see David on video expanding on this and on how to be a good listener here. (By the way, for any readers not familiar with Maister's work, bookmark this page, head on over to davidmaister.com, and take in the wealth of articles, video and podcasts. I'll see you back here when you're done – perhaps in a month or so…)
And it's exactly the same on Twitter.
Yes, it's great to post useful tips. You'll build your credibility no end by sending out links to great articles and blog posts in your niche, including some of your own.
But you won't build relationships.
Relationships are built by engaging at a human level with the other party. That means two-way communication, not just one-way broadcasting – no matter how great the material you're broadcasting is.
And two-way communication will inevitably include idle chit-chat. if you're genuinely interested in the other person then you'll be interested in their views on the news, what they're planning for the weekend, and perhaps even what they had for breakfast.
Case in point: a few weeks ago I engaged in a short twitter exchange with a professional I know reasonably well about karaoke tunes. A couple of other folks he knew joined in. We made fun of each other's selections, and suggested putting a karaoke band together. Nothing of any “value” was tweeted. No great insights or anything business related. But we all got to know each other a little better. We now have a shared experience: something to make a little joke about next time we meet online or in the real world. We know a little more about each other's personalities (and our taste in music). Pretty much the same as if we'd been introduced at a party or other casual encounter.
In fact, in some ways, Twitter can provide a real shortcut to building relationships. In the face to face world, it often takes some time to get beyond the “what do you do?” stage of conversation when you first meet someone. But on Twitter, most people seem quite willing to share their thoughts and ideas on a whole range of more personal topics. It's often possible to get a real insight into someone's personality, likes and dislikes quite quickly on Twitter – something that would take many meetings, often over months with face-to-face networking.
And because Twitter is still a fairly new channel, many users share a sense of being part of an “early adopter community”. They're much more willing to interact and respond to messages than they would be on other more established media.
So next time you hear someone complain about how all people tweet is nonsense, just smile and agree. And take note of David Maister's wisdom: it's that nonsense which actually builds relationships.
Posted 6th August 2008.
One of my favourite resources for professional services marketing is David Maister's series of podcasts. In his Business Masterclass episode “Cultivate the Habits of Friendship” he shares a lovely anecdote about building relationships that bears repeating:
The actress Angelina Jolie was interviewed on television and asked if she had to like the characters she was portraying in order to act them well. Her answer was brilliant. She said something like: “You can’t love everything about everyone. But there must be something there. The key is to find that one small slice of overlap between you and them, and focus intensely on that overlap, ignoring everything else.” I don’t know about acting, but that sounds like a perfect recipe for human relationships to me.
The reality of relationships is that everyone is different, and everyone is flawed. There will be things we like, and things we dislike (in differing proportions) about everyone.
Although it's often said that you get 30 seconds to make a good impression – and that's great advice for how we should present ourselves – we absolutely must not treat others in this way. Yes, our time is precious. Yes, we cannot have deep relationships with everyone and we must be selective. But we must not make that selection based on the first 30 seconds.
We've got to take time and make an effort to establish a relationship with people before making that selection. In my life, the scouser who looked so much like a “scally” at our first meeting I feared for my hub-caps is my oldest friend; and the irascible Scot who everyone else steered clear of was the guy who gave me some of the most insightful advice on sales I've ever had.
Angelina's method of focusing on the areas of overlap and ignoring the rest is a great way of starting relationship and of beginning to find out enough about people to know whether to continue the relationship rather than making a snap decision.
Image via ThisParticularGreg
Posted 27th April 2008.
It's one of the oldest sayings in sales – “rejection isn't personal”. But sometimes, more frequently than we'd care to admit, it really is personal. We all need to accept that sometimes people may just not like us or get on with us, and learn to live with that.
A while ago on one of Jeffey Gitomer's newsletters I read a question by a reader which made me smile. The essence of the question was that if people buy from people they know, like and trust – then surely rejection really is personal?
Well, of course, there are many reasons why a prospect may not buy even if they know, like and trust you. An obvious reason being that the value of your product may not be right for them at this specific time – and Jeffrey answered by talking about this.
But the question itself got me thinking. Although rejection often isn't personal, just repeating this mantra without thinking can cause us to overlook problems in the way we are selling.
Firstly, it may well be that we just aren't being liked or trusted enough by our potential clients (or at least not enough of them).
While repeatedly questioning our own likeability or trustworthiness could drive us mad – we do need to take a step back every now and again to analyse whether there is something we are doing which is damaging our ability to be liked and earn the trust of our clients.
Secondly, we need to accept that even if we are doing nothing wrong – not everyone will like or trust us.
Our personal styles or other intangible factors will mean we just can't be liked by everyone. In fact, people with a very strong personality – people who really inspire strong positive feelings in many people – are also likely to inspire strong negative feelings in others. It just goes with the territory. It's probably better to be really loved by some and hated by others than it is to be viewed as OK by everyone.
More importantly, professionals (or people in any senior role) just can't afford to need everyone to like them. In sales, we frequently have to push into areas outside our comfort zones in relationships.
We have to cold call prospects and risk them telling us where to go. We have to ask good customers for referrals and risk them feeling we are “using” them. We have to ask customers for the sale and risk rejection, or the customer feeling pressured.
Of course, there are ways to minimise the impact of these relationship “boundary stretches” by pre-positioning the customer that you will be asking for referrals later for example, or warming up the cold call.
Nonetheless, these techniques won't work 100% of the time. An effective professional must be prepared to take calculated risks and to suffer pushback and rejection. And let's not kid ourselves – sometimes it will be very clear that the rejection is personal – you have pushed an existing relationship a bit too far, or tried to initiate one with a prospect who just wasn't ready.
Rather than pretending that it wasn't personal we must get over our need to be loved by everyone. We must do our best, but at the end of the day some people just won't like us.
If we can't get over our need to be loved, we won't take the “risks” or be bold enough to do what's needed in sales – to make the calls, ask for the referrals or close the sale. A life lived in cotton wool can be comforting and risk free – but it's not the life of a successful professional.