“Trust me.” We’ve all said it. Trust is one of the most coveted and critical aspects of all relationships, personal and business. Think about it – when you ask someone to trust you, you’re asking for their complete confidence and surety in what you say and do. It’s the handshake of handshakes… the promise of promises… the pinky-swear of pinky-swears… the… well, you get the point.

Trust is hugely important for MSPs. If a potential client doesn’t trust you, they’ll soon be signing with someone else.  And if a current client doesn’t trust you, you’re really in trouble. A business has to trust you to deliver services to them when expected, as expected, so that they can run their business as planned. And that trust must come before they consider your services. Your offer is irrelevant if they don’t trust you to deliver – whether you’re selling software, hardware, or kitchenware.  Successful businesses produce inspiring products, but their foundation is customer trust. And here’s how they earn it.

Be Transparent

Simply delivering services is not enough. Let your clients into your world if you want to get into theirs. Let them see your office and how services are delivered. Meeting the management team is especially important. Management sets the tone for the entire business – hiring people they deem competent, determining efficient processes, etc. Management’s judgment is the heart of your business. If clients think your management team is driving your company into the ground, they don’t want to be riding shotgun. So allow them as far into your business as they need to go in order to trust you. If you’re afraid they’re going to find something they don’t like, then it’s time to make some internal changes.

Invest Time

Take an interest in what your clients do. Learn their values. Explain your values. The importance of company values is expressed in the Inc. article “Business Essential You Might Be Missing.” Understanding a client’s values takes time, and the more time you invest into a business relationship, the more trustworthy you are. Think of courting a client as a first date. Appear disinterested, and it’ll also be your last date. Likewise, if you’re disinterested in what your clients do, you’ll be looking for new ones. Your interest has to be genuine. Remember: they run a business too and can spot insincerity as easily as you can.

Explain Your Value

After you learn about your clients, explain your value to them. Don’t be ambiguous, as ambiguity makes people feel like you’re hiding something. Be very clear and specific. “We will make your business more efficient by automating these processes.” Or, “We’re going to improve your client satisfaction numbers by simplifying your billing procedures. This is exactly how much time we’re going to help you save.” At this point you’ve already passed the initial screening. Now is your big chance to actually sell your services.

Add Integrity to Your Service Offering

Honesty leads to trust. It’s that simple. You can make as many unrealistic promises as you want in order to ink a deal, but you’ll have some explaining to do when your service falls short of the unreasonable expectations you previously set. Be honest about any problems with your service, in addition to your strengths. Explain why something went wrong before they come to you. Just keep in mind that “I’m sorry” is not enough. Have a plan of action to remedy the problem. Give accurate timetables for service upgrades. Honesty and integrity are as vital to the business relationship as the services you deliver.

Openness, time investment, clarity, and integrity. Sound familiar? The keys to developing trust in business are the same ones that lead to trust in our personal lives. So take the same set of values you try to live by every day, and apply them to your professional life. Your next business deal depends on it.