The Trust Threshold: How to Get Clients as a Trusted Adviser

By Hugo Sanchez

The Information Asymmetry Problem

In professional services, a significant challenge we face is the problem of information asymmetry. Clients often find themselves in situations where they must trust their service providers implicitly because the providers possess more knowledge and expertise. This disparity necessitates a leap of faith on the part of the client—a leap into the hands of someone who knows more than they do about the service they're receiving.

Consider this scenario: you take your car to the shop. The mechanic tells you what your car needs, and if, like me, you know nothing about car mechanics, then you better go to a mechanic you trust. Without this trust, you might find yourself second-guessing every suggestion and recommendation, leading to a strained relationship.

In the digital era, earning this trust is the main obstacle to getting clients. This brings us to the critical concept of the Trust Threshold.

The Trust Threshold: "Without Trust There Is No Transaction"

I came up with the term “Trust Threshold” to describe the essential barrier you must cross to secure a client. Trust is the foundation upon which all professional relationships are built. Simply put: without trust, there is no transaction.

As a a consultant, you will get clients 3 ways: through Relationships, Referrals and Reputation. The reason is greatly because these are great way to cross the Trust Threshold. Relationships make you trustworthy through sustained exposure. Referrals is transferred trust. And reputation is trust earned from social proof and prestige.

The Four Dimensions of Trust

First, I think it is appropriate to understand how trust works. In the book “The Trusted Advisor” by David H. Maister, Charles H. Green, and Robert M. Galford, the authors outline several key components of trust and provide practical advice on how to become a trusted advisor.

  1. Credibility: This involves having the necessary expertise, skills, and knowledge. It’s about what you say and how believable you are. Fail at being credible and you come across as a charlatan or a fraud.
  2. Reliability: This is about consistency and dependability. It’s about the actions you take and how others can count on you to do what you say you will do. Fail at being reliable and you will be perceived as irresponsible.
  3. Intimacy: This involves the level of safety and security you create when dealing with others. It’s about how comfortable people feel sharing personal or sensitive information with you. Fail to build an emotional connection and you will come across as a technician or a robot.
  4. Self-Orientation: This refers to the degree to which you focus on yourself versus focusing on the other person. High self-orientation results showing up as self-serving.

Key Lessons to Pass the Trust Threshold

With this multi-dimensional perception of Trust, let’s explore how to build trust in with digital marketing channels and overcome the Trust Threshold.

  • Create Valuable Content: Regularly share insightful and useful content through blogs, videos, and social media. Show your expertise and understanding of the client's needs.
  • Showcase Testimonials and Case Studies: Highlight success stories and testimonials from past clients. Real-world examples of your work build credibility and trust.
  • Offer Free Resources: Provide valuable resources like eBooks, whitepapers, or webinars for free. This not only showcases your knowledge but also provides immediate value to potential clients.
  • Engage on Social Media: Be active on social platforms relevant to your audience. Respond to comments, participate in discussions, and show your personality and expertise.
  • Use Professional Design and Branding: Ensure your website and social media profiles are professionally designed and consistent with your brand. A polished online presence builds credibility.
  • Be Transparent About Your Process: Clearly outline your approach and what clients can expect when working with you. Transparency builds trust by setting clear expectations.
  • Provide Clear and Honest Communication: Be upfront about your capabilities, pricing, and any limitations. Honest communication helps manage expectations and builds trust.
  • Show Empathy and Understanding: Address common pain points and concerns in your content. Show that you understand the client's challenges and are there to help.
  • Leverage Video Content: Use videos to introduce yourself, share your expertise, and discuss how you can help potential clients. Videos create a personal connection and build trust.
  • Offer a Guarantee: Provide a satisfaction guarantee or a risk-free trial period. This shows that you stand behind your services and reduces the perceived risk for potential clients.
  • Highlight Certifications and Credentials: Display any relevant certifications, awards, or credentials prominently. This reinforces your credibility and expertise.
  • Network and Collaborate: Partner with other trusted professionals in your industry to host webinars or co-author content. This association can help build your credibility.

Crossing the Trust Threshold isn't a one-time effort but a continuous commitment to embodying these principles. As you strive to become a trusted adviser, remember: without trust, there is no transaction. Prioritize building and maintaining trust, and your professional relationships will flourish.

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