Forbes Coaches Council
At the core of every successful relationship – be it personal or professional – is trust. When someone trusts that you have their best interests at heart and genuinely want to help them, they're more likely to open up to you and help you in return.
This is especially true in sales. Taking the time to nurture a trust-based relationship with a new contact can only help you when it comes time to pitch your product or service. Here's what 12 members of Forbes Coaches Council have to say about converting a prospect into a trusted client.
1. Add Value Every Time
Make sure every time you communicate with contacts, you are adding value as perceived by them. Yes, this means you will have to send different messages to different contacts. Constantly sending non-value-added information to contacts is the quickest way to end a relationship. - Donald Hatter, Donald Hatter Inc.
2. Be Consistent And Credible
If you want to convert a contact to a client, establish trust in your expertise by delivering consistent quality and demonstrated credibility in all that you do. Most contacts are not a "quick conversion," so time and need will determine whether or not you gain a new client from the relationship. Share freely with your contact and don't sell them. Let your credibility speak for itself. - Erin Urban, UPPSolutions, LLC
3. Be Honest And Don't Overpromise
Breaking down illusions and refusing to overpromise is the best way to build trust in a new client relationship. Be honest about your approach, clearly define your skills, and establish what you are not willing to do. This will prove you are listening, and that you have integrity and set clear expectations. If your prospect wants you to be a dancing monkey, run. - Heather Pinay, Authentically: Business & Life Solutions
4. Start With A Small Gesture
Too many times, we try to suggest, implore, book another appointment or "convert" someone into what we want. Instead, build trust doing something small. This often means simply following through and following up in a timely manner through a thoughtful email, a specific LinkedIn or by phone. It means when you listened to them and found, for example, the article they had mentioned and sent it. - John M. O'Connor, Career Pro Inc.
5. Think Long-Term
When I am taking on a new client, I don't just think of the immediate sale; I think of how I can have a new client for life. This outward thinking approach and genuine care about the needs of a client puts you ahead of most when it comes to sales. Show a potential client you care about what they need, and listen instead of being in your own head rehearsing a pitch. - Rosalee Laws, The Rosalee Laws Company
6. Offer Some Free (And Relevant) Advice
While it can take a long time, treat everyone like they are already a client. It's OK to provide a little free advice as a clear demonstration of the value you can create. And, be sure to keep current about business trends so you can frame your advice in the currency that matters to them. Demonstrate you do your homework and contacts will seek your advice as clients. - Kathy Bernhard, KFB Leadership Solutions
7. Have Empathy
Take a genuine interest in the problems your contact is facing. Explore with them what the ideal world would look like. You don't have to solve their problem, but rather help them navigate the bigger picture. The larger the landscape of the challenge you explore with them, the more opportunities you can find to help. This will also provide some space where you can build trust with them. - Alan Trivedi, Trivedi Coaching & Consulting Group
8. Curate Helpful Content For Them
Converting contacts to clients is centered on delivering value that drives resonance and trust. One approach is to create or curate relevant content that provides solutions to some their most complex challenges. This builds both resonance and trust while laying the foundation for the cultivation of rich client relationships. - Terri Horton, TLT Consulting: Brand & Workforce Strategy
9. Help Them Find Answers
Here's an effective way to gain trust. Be curious, ask a lot of questions, and listen for a challenge they are facing. Most people like to talk about themselves and by asking questions, you can get people to talk fairly easily. Through active listening and powerful questions, you enable them to find the answers for themselves. They will value you and your "contact" becomes a trusted client. - Elva Bankins Baxter, Bankins Consulting, Inc.
10. Deliver On Your Promises And Genuinely Connect
Clients need two things from you to have their trust: your competence and you, being likable and relatable. Ever go to a great restaurant where the food was good but the service was bad? Ever go back? Me either. The same goes for client conversion. Deliver on your promise and at the same time, genuinely connect with your client. Understand as much about them as the problem! - Rubi Ho, The Rubi Ho Group
11. Be Deeply Interested In Their Problems
Stop trying to be interesting and become deeply interested instead, listening carefully. When you hear problems or pain, ask, "Would you like some help with that?" Then offer the action or service you deliver that you know will help. But you'll never create a client if you don't ask. - Darcy Eikenberg, Red Cape Revolution
12. Solve Their Problem First, Then Ask For The Contract
The easiest (and only way, really) to convert a contact into a trusted client is to solve their most pressing problems now. Too many coaches want the contract signed before they will work, but if you’re not a trusted advisor already, who’s to say you can do what you say you can? Coaches who are able to solve a contact’s most pressing issue earn the right to get their foot in the door. - Dr. Stephen Kalaluhi, The StephenK Group