The presence of trust makes any effort possible. The
absence of trust corrodes any relationship until nothing is possible.
Trust is the most underrated aspect of a business relationship. The presence of trust makes any effort possible. The absence of trust corrodes any relationship until nothing is possible. This is true whether we are agents dealing with clients, marketing organizations working with agents, or companies interacting with employees and distribution systems.
Trust in a business relationship is different than trust in a marriage or the trust we place in a pilot when we board an airline. I would even differentiate the concept of business trust from the idea of ethics. Not that trust can be built without being ethical, but in the context here, trust has a different nuance. Trust in a business relationship is about many things, but mostly it is about being consistent with those with whom we deal.
Whether they are a client, producer, or employee, the secret to building business trust is to be consistent. Be the same today as you were yesterday and will be tomorrow. Trust is built when others can count on what we say as being what we do.
It does not engender much trust in an organization when management is famous for saying one thing and then doing another. Unfortunately, some companies do not put a high level of importance on establishing trust with employees or the distribution system because they don’t believe it to be necessary. It’s an attitude of, “Why do we need trust when we have power?” This way of thinking misses the point.
Trust can be like a “get out of jail free” card, to be played when needed. A client may not fully understand a recommendation an agent makes, but if trust is present in the relationship, then the “trust card” can be used to make the client know that the sale is in their best interest. When a company has built a high level of trust with employees or agents and needs to make a change, it is more likely that employees and agents will accept it, even if they don’t understand the reason, because past experience tells them it is OK to follow – even blindly.
Conversely, without trust any venture will suffer in unimagined ways. Lack of trust breeds suspicion. Those who don’t know who to trust in an organization trust no one. Productivity suffers. Employee morale implodes. Turnover is high, and the ability to attract qualified replacements is restricted. When trust in an organization is lost, the employees or agents tend to adapt a self-preservating attitude that turns their efforts and interests from an organizational focus to a purely personal focus. Trust me, failure is not far behind.
We need to keep reminding ourselves that if we lose the trust of others, be they clients, agents, or employees, no matter what the objective is, it is unlikely others will follow. Attempting to lead without simultaneously building trust from constituent followers is the prescription for a difficult time.
The first step to building trust in business relationships is to recognize that it is a process, not a procedure. Trust cannot be mandated. True deep-seated trust does not come overnight, it comes over time.
It cannot be stressed enough that trust is engendered through openness, integrity, clarity of expression, and constancy. It’s a product of saying what you’re going to do and then doing it, without changing course. There is no faster way to lose trust than to take actions that signal you are not concerned about the best interests of your clients, agents, or employees.
Never discount the value of trust. The presence of trust can be a powerful force that enables individuals and organizations to accomplish great things. The absence of trust eats away at the very soul of an organization and paralyzes all effort.
For those who seek to achieve success as an agent, marketing group, or even insurance company, the process starts by understanding and respecting the value of trust. And you do this by becoming a dedicated trust builder.
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