The Trust Factor in Business Relationships


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How can you cultivate business relationships that last, grow, and earn referrals? Authors David Maister, Charles Green and Robert Galford maintain that becoming a trusted advisor to your clients is the foundation for the most successful and sustainable business relationships.

Their book, The Trusted Advisor, identifies clients’ fears – which can be obstacles to committing to a business relationship – and examines how those can be overcome by fostering a relationship built on trust. It further explores how you, the provider, can earn the position of go-to advisor, not only in your area of expertise but for general business advice.

This book was the most recent choice for my book club, Rick’s Read and Lead. As a member of the National Trusted Advisors organization, I could relate strongly to the content of this book and found many examples in my own experience that illustrate the authors’ points.

Basic to what we’ve all learned about communication is listening; the book details what defines a good listener, making some points we may sometimes overlook. As I’ve worked over the years on developing this skill I’ve found, as maintained by the authors, that genuine listening – which includes being aware of what I’m not hearing – provides me with insight into my client’s or prospect’s real fears and concerns.

As the authors advocate, in my trusted advisor role I strive to focus on my client as an individual, not as a person filling a role, which enables me to genuinely relate to my client’s situation. This empathetic perspective creates a personal connection which inspires not only a greater desire, but a genuine commitment to help. It nurtures a mindset that my client is, as the book suggests, a “co-equal in a joint journey.” I find this perspective also lights a spark of creativity in that my thinking is more along the lines of “how might I approach this situation if it were my own challenge?”

When a client sees authentic insight, concern and commitment, fears fall away and trust is earned. Genuine relationships, built on trust, are not only more beneficial for the client, but the client’s responses to me are more positive across the board. And I find that trust-based relationships give greater depth to my own work and sense of fulfillment. As the book suggests, I have found that “both selling and serving are aspects of professionalism.”

The book is insightful and well-organized, including many easy-to-digest lists; I highly recommend the read. The concepts presented are both time-honored and new. While the authors draw from many attributes that are characteristic of a mutually beneficial and satisfying personal relationship, the concepts may seem somewhat profound as business relationships are often perceived – but what great value they add! We elevate ourselves as both human beings and business leaders by practicing authenticity, engaging others with an empathetic ear and heart, and truly investing ourselves in our relationships.


Written by

Rick Arthur is a CFO whose expertise is built on Financial Intelligence and 35 years in senior financial roles. Coupled with a CEO’s perspective and the experience of building his own $20 million company, he brings a unique depth of insight into business from the top down. Wired to get to know people, Rick works hand-in-hand with business owners of intentional, growth-oriented companies, solidifying relationships as a trusted advisor and confidant to his clients. He leverages his experience to help business owners gain traction and stay laser-focused on the company’s vision, cash flow, and profitability – all while creating big picture solutions for strategic planning, growth and sustainable success.