There’s a book called The Trusted Advisor which describes the psychology and ideas needed to escalate your client relationships from “seller” to Trusted Advisor. The thinking behind this is that you will strengthen your customer relationshps if they can call on you for help and strategy.
Here are some tips taken from the book, by David Maister:
1) Follow-up when you say you will!
2) Listen to everything! Force yourself to really listen and paraphrase. customers should be saying something like “Yes, that’s exactly what I mean”! (For more on listening, click here).
3) Empathise. Truly do it. Whenever you find yourself saying “This guy’s an idiot” ask yourself “Why does he believe this? Where’s he coming from? I’m intrigued!
4) Note feelings. An emotional skill that requires an observation and something from the heart. It works.
5) Build a shared agenda. Show that it’s “we-not-me”. Create buy in, help customers feel valued.
6) Ask about a related area. Notice something outside of your realm of expertise. Gives you depth. Be curious!
7) Ask great questions – particularly those open ones. This allows the customer to set frames of reference – in other words provoking and setting items of discussion.
eight) Return calls unbelievably fast. Including emails, however the warmth of voice is a better reply. So much trouble in business can be averted with this tip, and you quickly develop a reputation as a “go-to” person for your customers.
9) The problem is rarely what the customer said it was at first. Just because the customer asks a question doesn’t mean it’s the right question to answer. More value is added through problem definition than problem answer.
10) Listen like it’s the first time you have heard something.
11) Clarity counts: work hard on sacrificing detail to ensure THE most important benefit gets through.
In our sales training workshops we run sessions on elevating your relationships and being the go-to person for your clients. This stuff works. We really recommend you put the book on your reading list!