Being Grateful For Clients Who Just Want To Talk

By Peter J. Strauss

Lately, I have tried to make a habit of regularly reviewing my business practices and taking time to consider the things that make me truly grateful. At the top of my ‘gratefulness’ list currently are the clients who give me a call or schedule a meeting simply to have a conversation.

That may sound small, but I have learned that developing this kind of relationship with a client takes significant time, effort, and skills that go beyond professional credentials and expertise.

I talk about trust often in my organization because establishing a trusted relationship with a client is key to the success of our business model, as well as my own personal development and goals. To me, it is my highest measure of success.

As I noticed my ‘just want to talk’ clients consistently at the top of my gratefulness list, I began to consider how I developed those specific relationships. I recalled my introduction to the “Trusted Advisor” concept from the book of the same title, The Trusted Advisor by David Maister, Charles Green and Robert Galford.

Revisiting this book, I discovered the Trusted Advisor website and was amazed that they had developed a simple formula to convey exactly what I experienced in my most trusted relationships with clients. Prepare to hear some words you don’t often hear in business meetings!

Your trustworthiness is a measure of your:

(Credibility + Reliability + Intimacy) ÷ Self-Orientation

In my business, I have to come to a new client relationship with credibility and reliability or I won’t get the initial meeting. The client has to trust that my firm and I have the expertise and execution skills to do the work. But, the third factor—intimacy—is essential. I have to create a safe and secure space where the client can share confidential, or even personal, information that will impact how we work together. If I don’t know you and your business intimately, and treat that information with care, I can’t provide the best captive management service for you.

Then, the final component of the equation, self-orientation. This is a character trait not displayed often enough in business. Quite simply, it conveys that:

  • I care more about you than I do about myself;
  • I want to listen to you and hear what is important to you;
  • I am willing to think out loud with you and work together on the right plan.

Sometimes it is clear through the success of a client relationship that I am on the right track with my clients; but for me, it was helpful to return to the advice of these expert author-mentors and see that they had put these practices into a very understandable format.

As you develop your own trusting client relationships, focus on creating a personal and safe space where your clients can talk openly with you, and always make sure you are looking to your client’s needs ahead of your own. I think you will find your clients seeking you out for those important talks that will reward you beyond measure.


Peter J. Strauss is an attorney, captive manager, speaker and author of The Business Owner’s Definitive Guide to Captive Insurance Companies with ForbesBooks. Learn more at peterjstrauss.com.

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