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Why Trust Is the Most Important Part of 'Know, Like and Trust' Earning a client's trust sometimes requires putting their long-term interests ahead of your own short term interests.

By Dixie Gillaspie

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"All things being equal people will do business with, and refer business to, those people they know, like, and trust." ~ The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann

While Bob and John gave that line to their characters Pindar and Ernesto in their little parable about The Five Laws of Stratospheric Success, anyone who follows Bob knows that he's been using that quote as his "Golden Rule of Business" since before his first bestseller, Endless Referrals, was published. It's one of the most basic truths of how to attract and keep clients and customers.

The problem is that most people I hear repeat that quote leave off the first phrase. They talk about how important the relationship is, and they're right. But they neglect the "all things being equal" and get upset when they lose clients they thought were "loyal."

I thought about Bob's "Golden Rule" yesterday while working with a client who was facing a dilemma in choosing a vendor.

Related: Why Should Your Customers Trust You?

The client is a fine jewelry designer in New York. She's preparing a new collection for a show and, as anyone in that industry will tell you, the only thing more important than photography is the design. Maybe not even that, because great photography can make even poor design look pretty good.

She has a photographer she's depended on for years. This photographer is dependable and very good, but working with her requires my client to travel to her studio carrying thousands of dollars in precious stones and metals (not to mention hundreds of hours and untold moments of inspiration) and spend most of a day at the photo shoot. But she really likes this photographer, they've become friends, and that relationship is important to her.

She also has the opportunity to work with a photographer who has more experience in shooting and positioning luxury goods. This photographer is a bit brusque, but efficient, and the results are dependably amazing. Working with this photographer will require significantly more money, but it will also take a lot less time and is pretty much guaranteed to yield the kind of images the client needs to represent the collection she's been toiling over for months.

She'd like to continue to do business with her friend, but all things are NOT equal and she has a lot riding on her decision.

Related: Cultivating Relationships With Vendors Opens a World of Opportunity

Here's the nutshell version of what I told her, "Any professional you work with who is not committed enough to your success to support and encourage your decision to work with the most qualified professional for any specific task isn't someone you should continue to trust."

I know that's going to seem harsh to a lot of people. But it's a truth all of us need to embrace. I'm a coach, but I will never be the right coach for any client in every situation. In fact, a few months back I had supported this same client in hiring a merchandizing expert. Those were funds that could have gone to me. We cut back our sessions to keep her coaching costs in budget, but for all the aspects of her business I have impacted, merchandizing is not something I have the qualifications or interest to help her with.

Likewise, as an entrepreneur, I know people I really like, and I might work with them if all things were equal. But things not being equal, I owe it to myself, my business and my clients to make choices that are going to provide the best possible results.

As professionals, we need to be so committed to the success of everyone we serve that we will help them choose someone else if we are not the absolute best choice they can make to fill that particular need. Because no matter how much people know us and like us, to trust us they have to believe that we are that committed. The day they realize that our commitment to our own interests is greater than our commitment to their interests is the day that trust erodes, at least a little.

That is why sometimes the best way to keep a client for life is to send them to someone else. And it's why, no matter how many people know you, even like you, it's the people who trust you to put their long-term best interests ahead of your short-term best interests who will always do business with, and refer business to, you.

Related: 3 Ways to Boost Word of Mouth and Referrals for Your Business

Dixie Gillaspie

Writer, Coach, Lover of Entrepreneurship

Ever since she was a little girl, Dixie’s least favorite word was "can’t." It still is. She's on a mission to prove that anything is possible, for anyone, but she's especially fond of entrepreneurs. She's good at seeing opportunities where other people see walls, navigating crossroads where other people see dead ends, and unwrapping the gifts of adversity and struggle. Dixie also contributes to Huffington Post and is a senior managing editor for The Good Man Project.

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