Building a foundation of trust for your electrical distributor is essential to establishing and maintaining business relationships that are fundamental for your success. If you earn the trust of customers, vendors, and other pivotal business entities, new opportunities will open, and your distributor will thrive. But trust is fragile. If you squander it, it can be very difficult — if not impossible — to restore.
Trust is mysterious and often elusive. No one can explain exactly where it originates or how it develops. The trust process is a pretty abstract concept that is hard to figure out. However, a little research on the subject reveals some concrete actions that can help build trust in a business environment.
Here are some proven actions that build trust through the “3-C’s” of trust — Communication, Commitment, and Competence.
- Trust Others
Be generous and forgiving when someone else makes a mistake or lets you down in some way. Always jumping to conclusions about someone’s competence or motivation inspires wariness, not trust. Most of us don’t set out to be mean or incompetent, so try giving others the benefit of the doubt until you have contrary information that proves you wrong. You’ll feel better about your working relationships and receive trust in return for the generosity you show.
- Cultivate a Win/Win Relationship
Everything works best when things are mutually beneficial. This takes a lot more than clichés and platitudes. Customers should clearly understand the value of your products and services to them. Likewise, electrical distributors should feel good about taking ownership and being accountable for what customers are trying to achieve. Having a genuine vested interest in the success of your customers’ business demonstrates commitment and helps establish lasting trust. In other words, trust is about showing your customers that you care about them. In turn, they will care about and trust you.
- Be Direct
How you deal with concerns and problems is what instills trust and loyalty. During a busy business day, it’s easy to get distracted and become disconnected from what’s happening on the front lines. Customer trust develops from the first contact and extends through service delivery, care, and support. At each step, you can either damage or enhance this experience for your electrical distribution customers. That’s why it’s so important to deliver on promises if you want to be trusted. if you want people to trust you, you have to have some empathy. Address complaints fast. Share information. Gain confidence through your actions. Exude pride and passion for your business. Resolve conflicts quickly. These actions separate you from the pack and go a long way toward building and maintaining trust.
- Honesty is the best (ONLY) policy!
Never assume that certain people can’t handle the truth. Be as honest with customers as you expect them to be with you. You don’t often get a second chance to make a first impression, so being honest and direct early on will help build a solid base for your business relationship. Keeping promises is also a big part of telling the truth. Don’t commit to a promise you can’t deliver. Be forthright about delivery dates, stock availability, product specs, etc. Always be realistic about what’s achievable and do your best to live up to your word.
- Time is Precious!
Some days, it seems that people are losing their sense of decorum and courtesy. Trust comes easy to people who display awareness and respect for other people’s schedule demands and available time. Some easy ways to build trust in this area are:
- Promptly return phone calls
- Promptly reply to emails and thoroughly address all points raised
- Be on time for meetings, and log on to a scheduled call two minutes in advance of start time
- Hold fast to estimated call end times, and inquire if attendees are free to keep going
BONUS Action – Over-deliver!
One of the easiest ways to build trust is to surprise customers by regularly going above and beyond what’s expected. Give ’em what they asked for, but on top of that, deliver more — more service, more value, more convenience. Delivering beyond what they expect goes a long way to adding real trust. As a bonus, customers will tell others about how you really delivered for them, further adding to the success of your distributor.