Precisely 308 words from now, I’m going to reveal a technique for building Trust with prospects—a critical determinant of whether you’ll win consulting projects.
Stuff you already know: Darth Vader was Luke’s father; when you let the internet name things, you end up with a ship called Boaty McBoatface; and, clients choose the consultant they trust most.
Illustration of stuff you already know: I received an email introduction to Isaac, a VP at a credit union, on a Tuesday. Isaac called me that day to discuss a consulting project opportunity. He had already established his budget and had talked to numerous consultants. I was last on the list—receiving a call only because of the introduction. Friday, I closed the project for 55% higher fees than he had budgeted.
How did I close a deal in three days with a totally new prospect? Simply put, I built enormous trust. Quickly.
How do you build trust with a prospective client—particularly one with whom you have little or no history? And how do you build trust pronto?
I’m not going to catalog the many paths to establishing credibility and building trust. You see, there’s a fundamental problem with your case studies, your speeches, your books, your impressive processes, your testimonials, and even the glowing recommendation from your prospect’s colleague.
They’re all hearsay.
They’re not believable to your prospect at the same, visceral level as personal experience.
To create trust, we have to create first-hand, personal experiences for our prospects that signal “this consultant is trustworthy” at a gut-level. Given the opportunity and time, we can create that experience by delivering on the big promise of a project. That’s why repeat clients are an easier sale.
But, when prospects don’t have experience with your trustworthiness on the big promise, they turn to the experiences they do have. That’s where this oft-overlooked technique comes in:
By deliberately making and keeping small promises, you can quickly engender high levels of trust. This entails going out of your way to create opportunities that demonstrate you live up to your commitments.
In all likelihood, you’re inadvertently skipping many of these opportunities in every interaction with your prospect.
A few examples of Small Promises:
- When your prospect raises an issue, tell him you’d like to finish your current line of thought before addressing his concern. A few minutes later, circle back and address the issue. I call these “loopbacks” and even though they seem very simple, they are enormous trust builders and I purposely insert them into many conversations.
- Come up with some reason to send a specific piece of information by close of business, then send the promised information.
- Indicate that you’ll follow up with a phone call the next day, then (this’ll shock you) follow up with a phone call the next day.
- Promise an introduction to someone specific, then broker that introduction within hours.
- Note at the start of a meeting that you’ll only take a certain amount of time, then make a point of concluding the discussion punctually.
- At least once during the discussion, honestly admit that you don’t know the answer to a question or that you don’t have the expertise. Professing ignorance implicitly makes—and immediately fulfills—the promise that you won’t exaggerate your skills and capabilities.
That’s just a handful of small promises you can purposely initiate.
I’m interested in hearing your other ideas. What small promises could you build into prospect discussions to quickly build trust?
Text and images are © 2023 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.