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15th February
2013
written by LS Girl

Communicate Well and Build Trust.

I was asked to, “bottle what you do, so we can replicate it” by a business owner.  He was referring to my “ability to connect with customers, and earn their trust.” 

This question was presented to me about two years ago and until now, I have not “bottled” anything except for a few growlers of homebrewed beer.

Why do customers trust me?

Why do they still ask about me, years, even decades after our last contact?

First, let me take some things off the table:  I am not special.  I’m not crazy-smart or gifted in any way.  I have no amazing skills or hobbies.  Academically, I was a straight C student until college where I advanced to A’s and B’s.  Travel; I hardly do it.  Sports; are almost non-existent.  I have no children that I’m aware of.  No pets.  No pets I treat like children.  I have no striking features besides a bump on the bridge of my nose.  I love writing, but I will probably never write The Great American Novel. (See how I used the word “probably”; never say never)

“Bottle what you do”.  I don’t do anything; I simply am, but what does that mean?  Here is my definition:

I am the person you meet, regardless of the situation, the environment, the vibe, the agenda, the hierarchy, or status.  I am always myself. If I meet you for the first time at a funeral, a ribbon cutting ceremony or a pub tap take-over:  SAME PERSON.

Let’s put that in the bottle:  Be yourself, always.

build trust - be yourself

Next, let’s dig deeper in to “trust”.  Why do people trust me?  My belief, is that I am honest, able to say “I don’t know” and I make NO ASSUMPTIONS about who you are, what you think, or why you are sitting across the desk or table from me. Even if you TELL me, “I want to meet with you to discuss our content strategy for Q2”, I walk in a blank slate. 

In the bottle:  Begin as a blank slate.

Build Trust - blank slate

This means, I do not make assumptions on what you might say or do, nor do I make assumptions on what I might say or do.  Now, this takes practice.  The art of simply being prepared for where a conversation may take you requires some work.  Additionally, I do not plan to solve any of your problems or sell you anything, ever.  I have no agenda or path I want to lead you down.  However, I am prepared. 

I know what my company does, and I know your name, the name of your company, if you recently went through any published events like a merger or C-level shake up. I’m aware of any new products or services you recently launched.  Information such as, who your customers are, the value you bring to your clients, along with smaller details like whether or not your direct email address is published on your website tell me a lot about your style.  Although I know these things, I do not plan to use any of this information.  I’m simply prepared.  You’ll want to strive for a, “I can kill a man with my bare hands” level of expertise, coupled with, “but, I live a life of Zen, so I hope I never have to” peace-loving balance. If I’m meeting you for the first time, at a minimum I know what my company does… and I learn about you by doing the following:

Lastly, I will introduce the probable “magic bullet”, which is:  Listen.  I listen to you.

Let’s put that in the bottle:  Listen. 

Build Trust - Listen

Now, I’m not talking about typical listening.  I’m talking about the kind of listening that you would do, if you were taken hostage by gangsters (mistaken identity, of course, but still… you’re tied to a chair) and told that you have to repeat everything you’re about to hear, one hour from now… or lose an ear.  Protocol is as follows:

I’m in your office:

Cell phone:  is in the car.

Laptop/Tablet, is closed/off/silent (even if I have a presentation or information on it the client asked for)

Papers or folders, are in a tote at my feet.  (Even though you asked me to bring a quote, it’s tucked away)

You’re in my office, or on the phone:

LCD monitor display:  OFF (I turn it completely off, always, even during phone conversations)

Desk Phone:  do not disturb (or I’m talking to you on it)

Cell Phone:  silent, NOT vibrate, it’s completely silent

Tablets, iPads, other devices:  Off

Door:  closed (because I’ve already taken you for a tour, so you’ve seen everything there is to see)

It sounds simple, because it is.  What is not simple, is the discipline to do it every time, under all circumstances, without fail. Success is derived by doing LESS: 

Bring less stuff

Talk less

Direct / Take charge less

This is difficult, especially when your potential client drops a big fat problem in your lap.  Your initial reaction is to solve it, or promote the solutions you have that can solve it.  Don’t.  Keep listening.  The client does not know they have just launched an opportunity at you, and they probably are not done talking, and most of all… if you jump in, you make them feel as if they are silly and uninformed.  Let it be.  Let the conversation flow.  Follow up with the solutions later, in writing, and then with a phone call or visit.  Now they are feeling heard, listened to, understood.  Jumping at every problem they present makes them feel challenged, so don’t do that.

Here is a down and dirty list of other before and after habits I’ve developed over the years, so now, these habits are simply:  me being myself:

Communicate Well and Build Trust PDF

 

Build Trust – Communicate Well

Build Trust

 

Here is a TED Talk which provides  brilliant, high level  techniques  on communication, problem solving,  personal growth, and success.  WARNING:  as with any TED Talk, this will probably make you stand up and cheer.  You’ve been warned.


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1 Comment

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    08/04/2013

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