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Denise M. Michaels
We all communicate in our business and personal lives. What I’ve discovered is the quality of your life and your success is directly linked to the quality of your communications. However, some people mistakenly think their success is all about perfect technical results or speed. If you’re a good communicator and possess great skills you’ll grow and move up faster than if you have great skills and communicate poorly. This is especially so if you’re an entrepreneur and your paycheck depends on getting new clients to say “yes” to what you offer and the experience of doing business with you.
The essential question is how well do you communicate?
- Do you communicate so you build trust and move your objectives to the next level of success?
- Or do you dial the phone, hang up when you don’t get through without leaving a voice mail message?
- Do you say, “Well, that’s done. If he’s interested he can call me back?”
During the Great Recession when the real estate market went bust and banks were wiped out of business, many experts agree trust went the way of the dinosaurs. Not that everyone was a trusting PollyAnna before. We were careful consumers and business buyers. But trust in business to business transactions took a beating. The person who can build a genuine sense of trust with clients or customers is the one who will succeed in this brave new world where trust seemed to go the way of the dinosaurs.
Assuming the product or service you offer is authentic, and, in your heart of hearts you believe it’s a terrific value for the right people or businesses, how do you build trust? You can’t blame people for not trusting. After all, we have every reason to be skeptical, question everything and hesitate before saying yes. However, there are a few simple word combinations that can make a big difference between developing trust and a long-term working relationship and the prospective client who says, “No thank you. I’m going to pass for now,” when you know they’re absolutely ideal for your offering.
These word combinations aren’t “tricky closes” that make people instantly say yes. In fact they’re downright simple. They’re statements that in the rush of everything we have to accomplish everything are way to easy to forget. As advanced as our technology is our feelings about trusting others are still very human and not highly complicated. Whether we feel can trust someone or if it would be smarter to send them packing and avoid getting ripped off is mostly based on “gut feeling.”
Before I get to the word combos I want to mention something I call “The Slick Factor.” What is it? The slick factor means if you come across as too polished and too “got it all together” many customers will perceive you as a little too cool for school. In our post Great Recession era it often “reads” as someone who can’t be trusted over the long run. On the flip side if you come across as awkward and unsure it reads to most people in business as lacking in confidence or worse, lacking in belief about your product or service.
If you want to build long-term trust aim to strike a balance. Don’t be overly polished and slick. But don’t be awkward and in dire need of a confidence boost. In my experience I’ve discovered when I’m 100 percent focused on doing the best I can to guide a prospective client in the right direction they appreciate the extra help. People have told me I come across as confident, knowledgeable, funny and caring. Not always in that order.
I answer all their questions and provide a few extra tips they might have never considered. My aim is to make them laugh a little and also think as well. They’ll see you as a star if you don’t seem rushed or slick. You’re confident, yet humble at the same time. It’s apparent you truly know your stuff in a “comfortable in your own skin” way.
So let’s move on the those power-word combos I promised. These are for building trust with prospective clients so they can absolutely see themselves doing business with you.
1) “Thank you.” I’m constantly thanking people for little things. Every conversation I have with a contact on LinkedIn starts with “Thank you for your reply.” Or, “Thanks for taking a moment to view my LinkedIn profile.” Or, “Thank you for reaching out.” Or, “Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to talk with me.” There are a million things to say or write “thank you” for in my estimation. Don’t have time to include a simple thank you in your messages, emails, texts or on voice mail messages? Maybe you don’t have the time to help them with their business, either.
2) “You’re welcome.” In the brevity of trying to get everything into a ridiculous 140 characters, sometimes the simplest of words can seem superfluous and unnecessary. It’s not. Saying “you’re welcome” tells them you heard them and you have good manners. You have the kind of foundation and decency many people seem far too rushed to bother with anymore. There’s never anything old-fashioned about making another person feel good.
3) “I’m sorry.” Hopefully you won’t use this one nearly as often as “thank you” but when you make a mistake instead of slinking away thinking “I’ll never talk with that person again” or acting like it didn’t happen, say “I’m sorry” and do it with sincerity. When someone goofs up we don’t always want to distance ourselves, but we do want them to acknowledge their mistake so we can move on and have faith it won’t happen again. When you say I’m sorry give a quick one or two sentence explanation of what happened with no drama. Then share what you’ve done to remedy the problem so it never happens again.
4) “I’m so embarrassed.” Did you really screw up yet it was a totally innocent gaffe? We all do it occasionally. Sometimes “I’m sorry” doesn’t feel like quite enough. I can generally count on one hand the number of times I’ll used this one in an entire year. But everyone knows the feeling of being a little embarrassed. We wish we could shrink away but we have to be an adult and face the music. No one wants to let another person keep feeling embarrassed, right? This can work when combined with “I’m sorry.”
5) “You’ve made a wise decision.” You know they could’ve bought your product or service from someone else. So many people offer the same thing or something very similar. Help your newest customer feel reassured and confident by saying this when they make a decision to buy from you. Not only do you reassure them and make them feel good, you also lock in the thought they’ve made a decision. They can relax and know they made a good choice and you will absolutely do right by them.
6) “I appreciate your business.” We’re all human beings and if we pay our hard-earned dollars to you for something, we want to know our trust is appreciated and valued. There’s nothing worse than giving your money to someone for a large purchase only to discover they’re ungrateful. Once they have your money it seems like they don’t care. It makes us question the decision and question you. By saying this and acting like you appreciate it, you tell them they’re valued and you don’t take anything for granted.
Of course one thing we’ve learned in the age of distrust is talk is cheap. We see it in do-nothing politicians and the media who twist and spin stories to increase sensationalism, ratings and revenues. Talk without the accompanying actions is completely worthless. Your actions and words must be congruent to develop a true relationship of trust. When you do you’ll be a refuge of trust, confidence and safety in the shifting sands of skepticism and doubt.
I do my very best not only to say the words above with clients and prospective clients. I also do everything in my power to meet and/or exceed their expectations so we can build a relationship of trust in each other over the years we work and do business together. When you make a habit of using these words in the appropriate moments you’ll develop trust. You’ll separate yourself from the rest of the pack who don’t bother to take a few extra seconds to communicate in a way that garners trust and more business over time.
Denise M. Michaels is a ghostwriter and book coach. She helps CEOs, entrepreneurs, consultants, therapists, speakers and aspiring book authors become more recognizable, influential and in-demand. Using the leverage a book provides – you can become the go-to expert in your niche. To contact Denise click here now.