The myth of the Trusted Advisor

If I grew a new hair on my head every time I heard a salesperson or a sales organisation express the desire to be the ‘Trusted Advisor' of their customers, my head would look like Samson before Delilah got the shears out!

For those that know me, you will realise how unlikely that is! See below for proof!

It is not that there is anything wrong in having this as an intention. In fact, it is laudable. The question is how do you earn this status?  How do you arrive at the point where your customer is so positively disposed towards you, they will reach out to you first and before all others in their hour of need?

It’s not about the quality of your product. That is a given. It’s not about your track record – this too is a must. It’s not about the entertaining you provide – your competitors do the same. It’s not about how well you implement - people expect that. It’s not even about you respond when something goes wrong – it is a given that you will do so speedily and effectively.

The key is showing that you are always thinking about their best interests, that you care about them succeeding and will put yourself out to help them do this even if there is nothing in it for you at that particular point in time. Salespeople often come alive at deal time. When there is the opportunity to win business, they are like bees around honey. However, the secret to earning lasting and genuine trust is what they do outside of deal time, when there is nothing in it for them at that point other than helping out or giving something back. I did some work with the Asset Management team of an investment bank a while back when the economy was at its toughest and investment in their funds was under significant pressure. I was struck by how proactive and dynamic some of their sales people were in taking time to understand the pain their customers were suffering and opening up relevant experience, resources and expertise within their organisation – at no cost, given with genuine desire to assist and with no expectations of anything back. Their customers loved it and you can be sure it moved these sales people up a notch or two in the ‘Trusted Advisor’ pecking order!

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