Financial Planning | Leadership / Management

Surviving the recession? It’s a matter of trust

Trust Welcome to the recession, where your worst business nightmares come true. Consumers don't buy. Customers don't pay. Lenders don't lend. Investers don't invest.

And companies? Why, they expand, of course.

I know what you're saying: "What are you smoking, Bill?" And I don't blame you. Each day brings more news of layoffs and cutbacks as business after business assumes the fetal position and waits for the sun to come out.

And when the recovery comes? They'll climb out of their bunkers and find themselves short on staff, short on resources and woefully behind those who took Mark Slatin's advice.

Slatin is president of True Colors Consulting, which help its clients improve sales performance through executive coaching, consultation and sales training. And he believes the companies that will survive the recession and thrive afterward are the ones that are positioning themselves now for long-term growth.

And how are they doing that? By looking outward -- not inward -- for solutions. Stop focusing on your own woes and start focusing on your clients' problems. Help your customers position themselves for post-recession growth, Slatin says, and you'll be doing the same for your company.

"Hug your best customers," Slatin says. "Be proactive with ideas for how you can help them achieve their goals. And remember, no idea is too small."

Next, Slatin says, continue to invest in your sellers -- "the people who are doing business development at your firm," he says. Train them. Coddle them. Give them the resources they need to succeed.

Most of all, remember that "sell" is not a four-letter word.

"I call it the invisible wall of distrust," Slatin says. "It's been created from years of false promises and with the mortar of incompetence. No matter how much the last client sung your praises, when you walk into that room across from a buyer for the first time, there is an invisible wall there. Professional service firms want to get as far away from that stereotype as possible."

In the end, Slatin says customers buy from people they believe are trustworthy.

"In professional services in particular, people should think about developing relationships rather than closing the deal," Slatin says. "That's the paradox of selling: The less we work to make the sale and the more we make trust the goal, the more successful we are at business development."

How do you build that trust? Simple: By listening. Slatin channels none other than Stephen Covey himself when he says, "Make sure people feel as though they are understood. 'Seek first to understand, then to be understood,' right?

Slatin has lots more to say on the subject, and he says it all in a recent CPA Spotlight podcast.

How are you positioning yourself and your clients to take advantage of the economic recovery?

Find out more here
Slatin is now teaching a Business Learning Institute program called "Trust Centered Selling: How to Attract and Retain Loyal Clients through Trusting Relationships." That program is available via customized on-site training.


Bill Sheridan