Why is it that you might have a hard time trusting any professional you work with? I think this is a question that we as professionals and advisors to private business owners need to answer.
I know that one of the biggest barriers I have when I start working with a new client is how to establish and keep a trusting relationship. For me, trust is the key to what makes a relationship work.
We often send mixed messages.
Too often professionals say one thing and do another. Or, we might make a promise that we don’t keep for the long haul. When this happens, it’s a sure thing that the trust level between a client and us will go down.
If you’re a client of a professional and they make a promise they don’t keep how do you feel? I bet that if you’re like me you start wondering if you can trust anything that’s been promised. One of the fastest ways I know that I can kill trust is to make a promise and then miss a deadline. This is especially true if I don’t bother to let my client know before the deadline has come and gone.
Sometimes we get paid for something that’s different than what we offer.
This is a real problem with fee only financial planners. In the financial planning business there are two value propositions; the first is the financial planning and the second is investment management. Often there is a large fee with investment management and little or no fee with financial planning.
I find that clients value financial planning more than they value investment management. We sell financial planning as a way to differentiate ourselves from other advisors. When we make the vast majority of our revenue from investment management there is a mismatch that happens between advisors and their clients.
This is why I offer a service that is fee for service only. We don’t get paid for investment management. We get paid to act as a consultant and coach. I’ve found that those who purchase this service are often happier because our service is congruent with what our value proposition is.
Sometimes we demean our clients.
This is a real problem in any business. You may have overheard a statement that goes something like this, “If only the client would listen to our advice then everything would be great.” This statement is one that shows a lack of respect. When you don’t respect a customer they know it. When you as a client feel that we don’t respect you then you lose trust in us.
We often use jargon instead of speaking in plain English.
This is one of my pet peeves. I hate jargon. I know that jargon is very useful to explain what you want to do in short hand but there’s a problem with using jargon: Your clients don’t understand what you’re talking about. If your clients don’t understand, they won’t take your advice. If you use jargon it often means you don’t even understand what you want to do.
I find that when professionals get rid of jargon they have to go through a process that helps them understand what they’re suggesting. They’ve learned to simplify complicated ideas so their clients can understand. I think these types of advisors are the real heroes in the consulting and coaching world.
We often don’t do a very good job of listening.
Probably the biggest mistake we make is not listening. For me, listening starts with asking great questions. If I don’t do that, you’re not going to feel heard. If you don’t feel heard, you’re not going to trust my recommendations. You’re not going to tell me you don’t trust what I’m saying, you just won’t take action.
I work hard at learning how to be a better listener. I think the first step is to admit what you don’t know. As you become a better listener you’ll find that trust between you and your client will increase. Isn’t that what you want to happen?
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