When I say the words trusted advisor, what words come to mind?
Do you believe you are a trusted advisor?
Do your customers perceive you as a trusted advisor?
Before you begin this lesson, take a moment to list the accounts where you feel you’re a trusted advisor: list the people who rely on you and your trusted advisor status.
How many are there?
When you complete this list, the first thing to do is compare it with your entire customer base. Are you greater than 20%. Take heart, most salespeople and manages are less than 10%.
Trusted and Trusted Advisor – There’s a Difference
Let me clarify before we get too deep into this concept – trusted, and trusted advisor are not the same – not even close. The status of being trusted is one small part of being or becoming a trusted advisor.
First, consider this:
If you work for a great company, they are trusted.
If your products are GREAT, they are trusted.
The only variable is YOU.
Do you believe that you are a trusted advisor by your customers?
I hope you do.
But a bigger question is: What do your customers believe?
You see, it’s not what YOU think you are. Rather, it’s where does the customer place you in his or her mind? How do they see you? How do they regard you? How do they refer to you? How do they talk about you? How much do they respect you? And of course, how much do they trust you?
The 6 Levels of Competence
Here are the levels of competence you can rise to as a salesperson:
Trusted advisor and resource
PLEASE NOTE WELL: These are NOT titles. They’re roles you play, and positions you are regarded as, by the customer. If your card says “consultant,” that doesn’t mean you are one. The proof of title is that the customer PERCEIVES you as one.
The customer’s perception of you is your reality.
And the biggest question to ask yourself is: What are you doing to ensure your status of trusted, and trusted advisor in the mind of the customer – and what can you do to improve your relationship to earn and keep the status?
These elements also beg the question: Am I doing my BEST for ALL my customers, ALL the time? These are huge questions.
You’ve got to understand that becoming a trusted advisor is much more than just having a great relationship. Trust is just the beginning.
What are the elements of a trusted advisor?
CAUTION: these elements are as tough to achieve as they are strategic to your success:
• Being a value provider not a supplier or vendor
• Concentrating on business building – not just business seeking, on behalf of the customer
• Being a friend and being friendly
• Being liked, believed, respected, confided in, and trusted
• Being a valuable information provider
• Being able to combine trust, and valuable information
• Understanding the situation your customer is in, and willing to risk being right
• Willing to take action on behalf of the customer
• Saving money or adding profit? Trusted advisors help customers profit
• Trusted advisors figure out a way to get more face time
• Trusted advisors make decisions based on the relationship, not the quarter, or the quota
• Trusted advisors are always invited in
A trusted advisor displays professionalism, friendliness, competence, product knowledge, and expertise. They’re not just an expert, they’re also an expert communicator.
REALITY: These elements are GIVEN – they are the basics that qualify you for the status of trusted advisor.
To earn the status, these basics must be COMBINED with your knowledge of the customer, the customer’s business, and how they use, produce, benefit from, and profit from your products and services.
Real trusted advisors bridge the gap from a satisfied customer to a loyal customer.
MAJOR CLUE: The customer must PERCEIVE that you have these qualifications, or you will allow your competition to get in the door and establish some sort of position.
Trusted advisors keep competitors at bay.
Remember the list I asked you to make at the beginning of this lesson (but you probably didn’t)? For those few of you that did, I wonder if you still have the same people on the list?
For those of you who did not make a list – I venture to say that after reading this far, there are fewer people in the “they consider me a trusted advisor list” than you were thinking.
Now Take the Test
Well, if you’re a bit shaky right about now, let me assure you, if you invest the next few months doing things for your customer, you’ll get a clearer idea of what you must do to establish your position, your relationship, and your reputation.
I have prepared a trusted advisor test. Go to www.gitomer.com and enter DROP IN in the GitBit box.
Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Little Red Book of Selling. President of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer, he gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings, and conducts Internet training programs on selling and customer service at www.trainone.com. He can be reached at 704/333-1112 or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org