In any relationship, you will get as much trust as you give.
This is true in personal relationships but equally as true in commercial relationships such as those between a customer and a supplier. But in many commercial relationships, this isn't a practiced reality. Why is that?
There are many reasons one can point to, but at its core, the inhibiting factor seems to be the need for self-preservation, a desire not to be impacted negatively. That's not a criticism. It’s quite understandable, and certainly warranted in many cases.
However, I’d suggest that there are ways to work around this. Particularly in the case of economic relationships, between companies. (Rest assured, I won’t be offering personal relationship advice on this blog….)
Recently, I was speaking with a group of executives about the state of trust within customer and supplier relationships and what was interesting was the divergence in viewpoints on this topic. There were those who felt that the state of trust within economic relationships had dropped to an all-time low, and that most organizations continue to do business merely because of fiscal necessity. Still, others felt that trust was not an issue, that it was the centerstone of their partnerships and that their commercial success was founded on it.
This difference in opinions exists because the choice (and trust is a choice) is personal. And at the end of the day, human.
We do what we choose to do.
We believe what we choose to believe.
We trust who we choose to trust.
These are our choices.
Certainly, trust has to be earned, no question. But starting from a standpoint of “I don’t trust you until you prove to me that you can be trusted” is not a workable approach because it embeds a hesitancy in the relationship, an unwillingness for full disclosure and, fundamentally, a lack of commitment.
There’s no reason for this, especially in this age of the RFP, when organizations can afford the appropriate diligence towards partner selection. Customers can get to know suppliers, and suppliers, conversely, also get to know the character of their potential customer as they interact with them throughout this process, which in many companies is quite sophisticated. Both parties can vet almost all aspects of a potential relationship – be it quality, depth of capability, resource availability, process discipline and of course, economics.
So, assuming the process has been fair and open, and both parties are satisfied with the deal put together, it is makes more sense to go into the relationship from a growth and development standpoint. Far better to be open from the outset, and monitor performance closely to ensure expectations are being met. Far better to work from the vantage point of collaboration, than to expect to receive and not give.
(If not, then ask yourself, why you’re doing the deal in the first place?)
As such, the mindset of the key sponsors within both organizations (customer and supplier) are driving factors. If the leader's mindset is one of hesitancy, then the relationship will be fraught with difficulties. If the mindset is positive and open to the combined potential, then we have lift-off.
So the point is that you will get as much trust as you give. And how much you give, is entirely up to you.