“Trust takes years to build, seconds to break, and forever to repair” – Unknown

The relationships that we build with our strategic partners are important yet fragile. It is imperative that we prove that we are trustworthy individuals, and work for trustworthy institutions.

Trust. It’s something that we rely on in every aspect of our lives. We begin by building trust as children with our caregivers, followed by teachers, friends, romantic partners, and family. Trust is the way that we move forward in life with confidence and without doubt or uncertainty. Perhaps we could call it a security blanket. And this also, extremely, applies to how we do business. Think about it…could we move forward in solidifying all of the things previously discussed without the security of trust? 

Without trust, partnerships in business are more difficult, if not fractured, or altogether unproductive. But how do we build trust? It really is a simple concept, but, for some reason, mystifies people because they’ve experienced a violation of trust. And to come back from that is a difficult process because it instills caution and fear in moving forward with another person or company, once broken. Let’s also be real, when trust is broken in a business transaction, it affects all of the other parts of our lives as mentioned above. Below are six tips to help you build trust in your partner relationships. So let’s dive into trust and how it will make those that we are partnering with feel secure. 

1. Build Trust by Telling the Truth

Never lie to a partner, a partner’s customer, or a partner’s prospect. One lie can completely demolish a thousand truths and there is no going back. Even if it’s difficult, always tell the truth.

2. Do What You Say You’re Going to Do

If you say that you are going to do something…DO IT! Don’t make promises that you can’t keep. If there is a deadline, meet that deadline and be cautious not to promise deadlines that are unrealistic. This comes off as flaky and untrustworthy.

3. Admit When You’re Wrong

If you or your company make a mistake, tell the partner exactly what happened in a timely and efficient fashion. Trying to put blame on someone else for a mistake only comes off as an excuse and makes you appear untrustworthy. Own what your organization’s mistake was and what your next steps are to fix it. You will appear more reliable and honest.

4. Keep a Partner Cadence and Review What Is and Isn’t Working for Your Partner

Adopt the idea that you are in business for the customer. The more you can include them in the process and in the decision making, the more they feel in control of their investment with you. Not every customer’s or partner’s needs are the same. Tailoring to their individual needs shows that you are invested and that you care about their outcomes.

5. Listen to Your Partner’s Concerns

Partnering is a process and as it is ever-changing your partnerships need to evolve. You may feel that you are solid on your partnership strategy, but things can change quickly! Be open and ready to change course in order to keep the partnership moving forward.

6. Be Willing to Bring Your Executives to Conversations

Partner teams are paid to build deep relationships inside their counterpart’s organizations.  Building trust means opening the doors for executive conversations. Be open to providing those introductions and don’t be afraid to ask for those conversations as well. Bringing the executive team to the table allows each side to align with the higher-level goals of the organizations and the potential of a partnership that will last for years to come.   

Trust is the foundation of any effective partnership. Building trust is essential, yet so many partners overlook it. Without it, you will lose your footing and your reputation. The important lesson here is to listen and treat your partner as you would expect them to treat you. Remember business partnerships that have taken years to build can fall apart with one action that breaks trust.  

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