At Encompass-CX, we discovered that there are six qualities that trusted advisors have. Starting with integrity, we are going to take a closer look at how to develop this characteristic in your B2B relationships.
Act Professionally with Courtesy and Respect
Acknowledge Frustration: Acknowledge the client's frustrations. If the client is frustrated with something or someone on the account, apologize and accept the responsibility (even if it's not your fault). Do not blame it on your company, procedure, etc. Directly take fault and alleviate the client's concern that the problem will never be dealt with because he/she can now count on you.
Give Advanced Notice: The best way to make the client look good is to do what you say you are going to do when you said you would do it. If you are going to miss the deadline or fail somehow to deliver, provide enough advance notice for the client to look good in front of the customer.
Work With Your client, Not Around Them: Keep your client in the loop; do not leave even the appearance that you are trying to go around them or cut them out of communication.
Document and Distribute Key Decisions and Discussions
Develop a process: Develop a process to document meetings and agreements. It is good procedure to document any major decisions and/or agreements and then send them to the client. Go one step further - create a process. Agree on the format and method of delivery that the client wants for documentation of account decisions.
Maintain relationship continuity: As much as possible, maintain the relationship with the same client on a continuous basis. If the client contact must be changed, thoroughly review the file, and any available information, on that client.
Stay ahead: As part of your regular communication with the client, ask them if there are any important deadlines that you should be aware of. If there are, add them to your project plan and feed them back to the client for their agreement that you have it right.
Fully Explain the Reasoning Behind any Decision Made
It's okay to say “I Don't Know”: Don't be afraid of those three little words! If you are unsure of an answer or do not feel capable of providing good advice, inform the client and admit, "I don't know." Tell the client what you can do and how you will resolve the issue.
Provide Data First, Then Answers: Help the client financially justify the value of any proposed program by providing the data and methodology needed. Let the client "do the math" and convince him/herself; simply provide the path.
Shoot Straight: Become known for your word; work hard to say yes when you can, and explain no when you cannot.
Make Consistent Decisions so Others Know What to Expect
Be Predictable: Trust comes from knowing what to expect from the other side; be predictable by offering consistent, understandable decisions, not by "waffling."
Outline a Decision Process: Ensure the client can count on well-considered decisions from you and your team by establishing a consistent process for handling decisions within your workgroup. Refuse to deviate from the process without strong reason; insist that everyone follow.
Prevent Frustration: Involve the right people as early as possible when a major decision must be made. Contact the person highest in the organization touched by this decision so that you will not be contradicted by senior management. This will prevent any confusion or retraction of promises/agreements later on.
Respond Appropriately to Problems and Concerns
Anticipate: Preempt your client by proactively discussing policy changes. Your client will appreciate your honesty and respect your ability to discuss challenging topics with them.
Cut to the Chase: Address concerns directly. Do not beat around the bush or engage in lengthy banter. Cut straight to the point so that the client knows you mean business. He/she will appreciate your straightforward manner and good use of time.
Solve your client’s problems: If you cannot offer a solution, offer ideas and suggestions for where your client could get help, even if that means pointing to a competitor. Remember. your client is going to go there anyway, so you might as well get credit for helping.
How do you demonstrate integrity in your life? Let us know down below! After that, follow us on LinkedIn at “Encompass-CX” for more updates and blog posts.