We have all heard the phrase, “People like doing business with people they know, like and trust.” But how does one get to the point of trust in a relationship?
I am going to use a baseball analogy introduced by Robert Middleton, a marketing consultant. In his work, Middleton discusses the “marketing ball.”
I have combined his thoughts on the subject with my own to illustrate the steps one should take to deepen a relationship with a prospect and build trust.
You will not be successful with every prospective client. You will meet some folks who will not engage with you at all. One might call this a strike out. Don't waste any time worrying about these folks. Even the best baseball players are successful at bat approximately 30% of the time.
Sometimes a prospect may hit a triple and get to the point of trust very quickly. You have likely experienced this with a prospect or two. For whatever reason, the two of you hit it off and feel comfortable with one another right away. It's great when this happens. It is often much easier to get this person to home plate, where business is conducted.
There are also times when you and the prospect may both want to do business together, but you don't get very far very fast. This might be considered a walk. You take your time getting to know each other. Once you decide that you like each other, you move to second base. This may occur slowly or it may happen at a faster pace than when you went from home plate to first base. At this point, the relationship may stall. You may have tried to get to third base before the prospect was ready and thus put doubt in their mind about your intentions in this relationship. They may begin to feel like you are just trying to sell them something. You have not yet gained their trust.
Friction in a relationship develops when the two sides are on differing bases. We often assume the prospect is feeling the same way we are – ready to move to the next base. This is not always the case.
Honest and open communication is the best way to move through the bases. To start an open and honest conversation, bring out a diagram, similar to the one above and have a conversation about the stages with your prospect. You may start the conversation like this:
"Mr. and Mrs. Prospect, it is very important that you and I remain on the same page as determine if we should work together. I never want to put you in a position where you feel uncomfortable or pressured to move forward. This relationship is a partnership. As such, it is imperative we remain in sync.Periodically, we will revisit where we are in the process to be sure we continue to stay on the same page.
As we sit here today, I feel like we are on second base. We have met a couple of times now, discussing your current situation and goals. If you are comfortable, I would like to move to third base where mutual trust is developed and where we begin to make decisions about how best to reach your financial goals.
If I am mistaken about how you are feeling, let's please discuss this."
This is a non-threatening way to gauge how a prospect or new client is feeling about you and the process. It allows for that critical open and honest communication.
Having this conversation with new clients will allow you to determine whether it is the correct time or not to move to implementation. Moving to this phase too quickly can lead to the breakdown of trust.
This is also a great tool to use with existing clients when recommending new strategies or products. It never hurts to check-in with clients to see how they are feeling.
By employing the process of periodically checking in with clients and prospects, you will become a trusted coach, not just for a season, but for a lifetime.