5 Strategies to Build Trust with Clients — Tips for Consultants



When a businessperson hires a consultant it’s usually because of brand trust. That’s an emotional decision no different than when a consumer buys a new refrigerator or car.

But there’s one major difference – the consultant is dealing with a wealthy client or someone who wants to be affluent.

Wealthy people have a different mindset, which is why they have money in the first place.

What motivates an affluent businessperson to hire a consultant?

Here are the five psychological factors:

1. Accuracy. Wealthy clients don’t want a cookie cutter approach to their challenges.

For clients, my approach is to provide five related and salient benefits: Efficiency, information, innovation, objectivity and productivity.

Case study: One of the greatest compliments I ever received was at lunch when a CEO of a financial institution, and a valued client, and I were talking with the CEO of another financial institution. My client was trying to persuade his colleague to hire me.

My client abruptly said: “Terry’s a pain in the ass – he will fall on a sword to get the job done right.”

I was stunned temporarily. But he was talking in a language his friend understood. What he meant was that I’m proactive, ask lots of questions and deliver strong results. What happened? I got the business.

2. Acknowledgment. The loneliest job in the world is that of a CEO. They really appreciate credit and respect for their for-profit and non-profit endeavors.

I never end a meeting, e-mail or telephone call until I say the magic words, “thank you.” And I let them know I’m thinking of them between client meetings with thank you notes or articles of interest to them.

Wealthy people have a different mindset, which is why they have money in the first place.

3. Comfort. First and foremost, a wealthy client wants to feel comfortable. That usually means security. Do they trust you with their wealth?

They want to feel secure. They want their financial matters treated with the utmost confidentiality. Except for the relatively few who like to be in the limelight, most want to keep their situations private.

What do you have to do for a client to feel comfortable? It’s how you promote your firm. It’s how you talk with the prospective client. It’s about doing your research. They’ll feel more comfortable about you.

Ask open-ended questions about their business, inquire what’s most important to them, and ask about their social concerns. You will gain valuable insights and you will also determine whether you want to work with them.

In general, people don’t care what you have to say until they know how much your care about them.

Meantime, if they respond with a great deal of negativity about society without offering solutions, you will probably want to head elsewhere. Why? They’re high-maintenance. After all, consulting is hard work and it should be fun, too.

4. Evolving. Keep the relationship fresh. Expose the client to new experiences. Invite them to charitable affairs or cultural events.

5. Worthiness. Affluent clients also like to be validated in other ways. When a client has an idea that differs from mine, and won’t hurt, I congratulate her or him on a great idea.

To start such dialogues, it’s important to always lead clients with questions. They want to know their opinions matter.

From the Coach’s Corner, more information on client relationships:

Consultants / Service Firms: Why Hourly Billing Isn’t Best — One of the first lessons I learned in business-performance consulting was to sell results, not my time.

Thought Leadership — Why Companies Hire Management Consultants — Companies want knowledge. A good idea can be worth $1 million and more. That’s why companies hire thought leaders. It’s also why you see many consultants position themselves as thought leaders and give away free information in how-to articles or studies, which lead to books, seminars and being quoted in the media.

Valuable Secrets for Profitable Deal-Making with Clients — If you’re in professional services or consulting, many times you’ve heard the phrase: “Give me a proposal.” You’ve responded by spending several hours and investing hard-earned dollars in putting together a first-rate proposal. You’ve tediously explained your background and your approach. How many times has it been a waste of time? A lot, right? Here’s a better option.

Trust is like a vase…once it’s broken, though you can fix it the vase will never be same again.


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.




Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.