Trust: The Best Business Development Tool

By Peter J. Strauss

At our firm, we have always believed that our existing clients were our strongest source of growth and best new lead generators for our business. But, until recently, we had not taken time to drill down into the reasons why we believed this to be true.

As a captive insurance management company, our expertise in insurance and regulation, and our ability to execute successfully in these areas, are the prices of entry. We always knew we needed to excel within our expertise, but what was the essential ingredient in attracting new clients?

The answer? Quite simply: trust. It’s a very simple word that is essentially our most powerful business development tool.

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With a captive insurance company, our clients are embarking on a new product and are reliant upon our guidance. As such, we have to develop their trust from the moment we meet them. They must know that we will treat them exactly as we would like to be treated, and that we wouldn’t suggest an alternative that we hadn’t experienced ourselves. To paraphrase Warren Bennis, author of the seminal book On Becoming a Leader: Trust is the lubricant that makes the client relationship work.

As our client relationships grow, we begin to truly share our business practices, viewpoints and philosophies. Doing so deepens the relationship for all the parties involved. Interestingly, I believe it is Thomas Moore, bestselling author of Care of the Soul, who best captures what happens when we enter into a trusted client relationship.

“We need people in our lives with whom we can be as open as possible. To have real conversations with people may seem like such a simple, obvious suggestion, but it involves courage and risk.”

As Moore explains, to trust—whether in your personal life or a business setting—requires courage and risk. What we have found in our business is that by exercising both courage and risk, we are able to provide better client service and make our clients want to share that experience with others. They trust that we will deliver both good and bad news without delay, and we will never waver in our commitment to them. When we look back on our shared history, we often see that each of us has exceeded our own expectations.

So what is the single essential ingredient to growing and developing your business? Trust in your relationships. What is good for your soul is good for business. I don’t think this will surprise most successful business owners!


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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