Earning the trust of B2B buyers has become increasingly hard for sales professionals to achieve in today’s information-rich, instant-search culture.
Yet it is precisely this wealth of information that creates an opportunity for those in sales to become trusted advisors. There is so much information out there, buyers sorely need someone to provide perspective and guidance at critical points in the business cycle.
The problem is that trusted advisor status can’t be claimed. It has to be earned, and that’s not easy. Only an estimated 10% of sales professionals have truly achieved trusted-advisor status with their buyers.
How can you tell if you’re one of the 10% – or not?
You’re a Trusted Advisor If…
- Your clients continually ask your opinion on industry matters, not just about the product or service you’re selling.
- You’re brought into the decision-making process in advance of an RFP.
- Your contact up-tiers you, introducing you to the boss and to the project committee.
You’re NOT a Trusted Advisor If…
- You’re introduced by the buyer as “just the sales guy.”
- Initial discussions with the buyer focus primarily on price.
- The extras you bring to your clients are doughnuts rather than market insights.
Being a trusted advisor begins with integrity, but also requires skill and strategy, which can be learned and practiced. Richardson even offers a Trusted Advisor Program, based on a multi-faceted framework and skills necessary to develop a trusted, preferred provider position with key accounts.
So, what happens if you don’t become a trusted advisor for a buyer who is looking for additional insights and a consultative approach? No surprise: you probably won’t win the business, and your buyer will go elsewhere. And if this had been your account, you will soon be on the outside looking in, as others rush in with their insights and consultation.
The most important thing to remember when trying to position yourself in an advisor role is to focus on the end game for the business you’re trying to win. Always keep in mind what’s important to the buyer, not what’s important to you, the seller.
Then you’ll be building trust.
Photo credit: Pink Sherbet Photography