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2 Actions That Build Trust & Win Clients

by Bill Cates

Have you ever experienced something like this?

You attend a social event with your spouse or partner. Upon your return your partner is mad at you because you didn’t spend enough time with him/her– or you didn’t behave in some way they hoped you would. They’re a bit angry because you didn’t fulfill their expectation.

This scenario is, of course, a setup for disaster:

  1. One party had an expectation of the other.
  2. That expectation was never relayed to the other.
  3. That unexpressed expectation goes unfulfilled.
  4. Disappointment ensues.

Can you relate? We all can. Unfortunately, this scenario where an unexpressed expectation goes unmet – causing disappointment – is not limited to our personal relationships. It can show up in our client relationships too.

Knowing Expectations Are Fundamental to Building Trust

You know that building trust early in a new relationship is key to converting a prospect into a client, not to mention becoming referable sooner rather than later.

While there are many things that go into building trust with our prospects and clients, in today’s blog I want to focus on two action steps that most folks don’t do.

You guessed it… I’m going to hone-in on ways to make sure that expectations get communicated and addressed. While you may not be able to meet every expectation a prospect or client may have of you, you certainly want to know what they are so you can address them appropriately.

ACTION STEP #1 – Discuss Expectations Early in the Relationship

Your prospects and clients have expectations of their working relationship with you and your firm. Without talking down their last firm, see if you can learn about how the other firm lost their business. Learn about what they hope working with you will be like.

If they didn’t come from another firm and they don’t seem to have any clearly formed expectations, teach them what they can expect from you, and how that might set you apart from other firms.

A couple ways you might get this conversation started…

If you could build the perfect relationship with a financial advisor [or financial firm], what would that look like? What would they be doing well? What would you expect from them? Meaning, what are your expectations of us working together?


I don’t like to talk negative about others, though understanding why you left your old firm could be important to us establishing the best possible working relationship. What did they do or didn’t do to lose your business? What are your expectations of us working together?

The possibilities for how you bring this up are unlimited. Just make sure you have this conversation as early as you can in a new relationship.

Having this conversation builds trust and if you do it with a prospective client, it could play a role in winning their business.

ACTION STEP #2 – Keep Reviewing Expectations

Once you establish a baseline of expectations early in a new relationship, it’s important to review your clients’ perception of how you’ve met those expectations.

It’s hard to be perfect – no matter how hard you try – so it’s inevitable that you fall short from time to time. Plus, expectations can change over time.

If you’re familiar with my system, you know about the Value Discussion.

Throughout the lifetime of your client relationships, you want to check in to make sure nothing is falling through the cracks – that you aren’t falling short on their expectations of you – expressed or unexpressed.

And, of course, you want to know when you are exceeding their expectations.

It might sound like this…

Let’s put the market and economy aside and talk about something we CAN control – namely, our communication and overall working relationship.

First of all, is there any place we aren’t living up to your expectations? Has anyone dropped the ball or let you down in any way? [Discuss, if anything.]

What is working for you? How do we continue to earn your business? How are we meeting and/or exceeding your expectations?

Don’t be afraid to check-in. This sort of conversation is crucial to the health of your client relationships.

Forward this article to a friend or colleague.

And don’t forget ALL our resources – many of them free – are waiting for you at

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