Those times at which your clients don't require immediate service, says Andrea Howe, an associate with Trusted Advisor Associates LLC in Washington, D.C., are excellent opportunities to deepen your relationships with them.
"Building trust with your client in between sales is important for your business," says Howe, who is also CEO of BossaNova Consulting Group Inc.
Howe offers the following simple ways to help you boost your trust levels with your clients:
> Be an advisor
Your role as advisor need not always be linked directly to recommending investment or insurance products or services, Howe says. It can also be a way for you to help in solving problems.
"More than anything, a trusted advisor is a safe haven for tough issues," Howe says. "Not a safe haven for tough issues for which you have a product or service."
While there are limits to the advice you can to give — such as how to fix that leaky showerhead — being seen as someone with experience in issues such as cash-flow management and family dynamics is a valuable attribute.
> Share business-relevant information
Stay in touch with your clients by providing relevant information that might affect their portfolios.
You could send links to interesting news articles, research reports or other content. You must ensure that the information you are offering is helpful and your emails are not too frequent, Howe cautions. Otherwise, you run the risk of being seen as spam.
The payoff for this approach won't be immediate. But, over the long term, it is a good way to be seen as a professional who is working in you clients' best interests.
> Be authentic
In all communications with your clients, show that you really do care for their wellbeing. Don't even consider faking it.
If you are just looking to curry favor by showing a token interest in your clients, your efforts will come across as disingenuous.
"The key is that you really do have to care," Howe says. "If you are pretending, it will somehow all crumble."
> Be a good listener
An advisor who listens to his or her clients is automatically more responsive to their concerns. People pay a lot of money to be listened to by professionals and they appreciate when their concerns are taken seriously.
As medical students are taught: listen to the patient first, then put forward a diagnosis to rectify the problem.
> Know yourself
Being a trusted advisor involves a great deal of self assessment, according to Howe. Your ability to be honest with yourself and not pretend to be someone you are not will help you build stronger, more trusting relationships with your clients.
Howe suggests you give yourself a homework assignment to build a new habit in an area of trustworthiness — such as following through on a promise. This can be something you can work on briefly every day during quieter moments and need not dominate your day.