10 ways to become a ‘Trusted Advisor’ in Sales

What is a Trusted Advisor in sales?

A trusted advisor is a sales professional who establishes credible commercial relationships with clients. Clients call on them for help and strategy and their position is escalted from “seller” to trusted advisor.

There are various levels of relationships that we can have with customers.  It’s important to note that they aren’t ‘good’ or ‘bad’ – they can all be amazing.  For example, you may have a beautiful transactional relationship with Amazon, yet you have probably never spoken to anyone from there.  Sometimes that’s what we need as buyers.

Understanding the current status of our customer relationship is key to our ability to move it closer to where we feel it should be. We can’t be business partners to all our customers but we must be able to identify where this is possible.

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. It contains the type of practical advice designed to establish and maintain credibility and trust in working relationships.

11 tips trusted advisor in sales

The Benefits of Becoming a Trusted Advisor

Trust is everything.  Customers who trust you and your advice don’t question the small stuff, because you are a valuable resource in their eyes.  You can start spending more time with the clients you want to.  And you can recognise risk where you may not have seen it before.

You will be seen by your customers as a close ally. Invited to the boardroom table to help them set strategy, give advice and collaborate on new initiatives. Your customers are  happy to refer you on to all contacts.


10 Tips to become a trusted advisor

Becoming a trusted advisor in sales doesn’t happen overnight, it takes skill and practice. Here are 10 tips to get there faster:

1) Listen to everything!

Listen like it’s the first time you have heard something. Force yourself to really listen and paraphrase. Customers should be saying something like “Yes, that’s exactly what I mean”!

2) Give away ideas

Don’t sit on them – it’s the equivalent of having a big cupboard of presents at home that you never give to anyone. Take 3-5 new ideas into every conversation, even if just fragements of ideas.

3) Empathise

Truly do it. Whenever you find yourself saying “This person’s an idiot” ask yourself “Why do they believe this? Where are they coming from? I’m intrigued!”

4) Note feelings

An emotional skill that requires an observation and something from the heart. It works. Build a shared agenda. Show that it’s “we-not-me”. This creates buy-in and helps customers feel valued.

5) Take a view!

Even if wrong, it stimulates reactions, and crystalises issues. It is useful for our clients to have someone with the guts to take a view. The world is full of poeple too scared to do this.

6) Ask about a related area

Notice something outside of your realm of expertise. 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.

8) 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, it doesn’t mean it’s the right question to answer. More value is added through problem definition than problem answer.

10) 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!

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