When Stephen M.R. Covey said, "Trust is equal parts character and competence," he what actually meant was that getting optimal results would become difficult for leaders if they lacked either character or competence.
Building and sustaining trust is extremely important in business relationships as is trust is important in other relationships life. Building trust is easy, but sustaining trust is the difficult part, over a long-term trust and confidences are tested in ample measure. Sustaining trust is extremely important in business especially when a consultant is brought on board to guide the fortunes of the company during testing times, success or failure of such an engagement boils down mainly to the trust and confidence of the two parties.
Regardless of whether you’re an experienced consultant or a fresher, the following five characteristics are expected of successful consultants when they are embarking on a trusted and fruitful consulting engagement.
1. Listen- Your first part of the job entails listening to your client in depth so to understand without an iota of doubt what is the problem plaguing the business and just what is expected of you in your capacity of a consultant. Your next step should be to do a self-analysis by measuring your caliber against the challenge at hand and then trying to instill confidence in the client that his business is in the right hands in the hands of the consultant.
You must undertake a thorough research about the business of the client and it’s past histories along with a check on the stakeholders of the businesses, so that you have a fair idea of the business in the first place and don’t feel like in absolute alien territory when the representative first speaks to you. Have questions prepared and focus on all the information supplied so you can bunch them together and then be prepared to provide a thorough and crisp proposal for helping to resolve the issue.
2. Know your worth. Get your worth- Some potential clients might try to squeeze you on the initial assignment and even though it depends on what you're seeking out of the project, it is never really advisable to lower your price. You need to be confident of the value that you have to offer and let it be known to the client in ample measure so that the client doesn’t mind paying the right value for the right productivity enhancements for his business.
3. Don’t be a Yes Man. Learn to say NO-Saying yes to anything and everything and trying to become people pleaser can get you in many unwanted situations even if you have wanted to be cordial or helpful all along. You might find yourself in a situation where people might be taking advantage of you just because of your inability to say no. Saying yes is central to keeping clients happy so that they keep coming back and work doesn’t dry up for you but you will have to be shrewd enough so that you don’t end up giving additional deliverables and value to your clients for free.
4. Offer creative solutions-Say a consulting firm is known to offer services to help businesses with their social media strategy, digital PR and personal branding but receives random requests for SEO advice or help in setting up and managing a Facebook page.
Instead of just ignoring these inquiries, you should still take cognizance of the person’s business problem and offer a solution on how you can help the client.
5. Exude confidence- Clients don't expect you to know everything but what they expect is honesty which is the bed rock for any and all business relationships. Don’t appear to be the one who can do miracles or else you will find it very difficult to deliver on your promises when you have to walk the talk. To gain trust and build an effective working relationship you need to be honest and genuine and hold back nothing, only then can the client have confidence and trust letting you guide the fortunes of his business.