Written a couple of years ago when this latest recession first hit….
Trust is a paradoxical thing. It requires risk-taking when we’re risk-averse. It requires doing the opposite of our first instincts. Recessions are the same. The thing our prospects and clients want to do—cut costs, squeeze suppliers and customers, and scale back plans—paradoxically drives the recession deeper. Trust is about relationships, not transactions. Thinking of downtimes per se is transactional thinking. Thinking of downtimes as one half of a business cycle is relationship thinking. And it’s what you do in tough times that determines how others trust you in the good times. Trust is based on being willing to put the other’s needs first. But in a recession, the instinct to take care of Number One has the same trust-destroying effect as selfishness does in personal relationships. And it hurts business development in both the short and long run. Building trust in professional services involves four principles: client focus, collaboration, taking the long-term view, and transparency. Here are seventeen trust-based tips for selling in a recession organized around these four principles.
Tip #1: You’re a practice area head in a professional services firm and project or client
relationship managers report to you. When was the last time you visited your top three or four clients? Go visit, with your client manager. Your agenda? “Just wanted to hear what’s new with you. Besides our own services, what can we do for you?” And don’t even think about charging the time.