What the hell is a ‘trusted advisor’ anyway?

So many businesses these days talk about being ‘trusted advisors’, with very little concept of what that actually means.  In way too many instances, it seems more about hitting clients over the head with white papers, cross-selling initiatives and coffee requests and less about adding real value.

In my experience, becoming a trusted advisor takes time and effort.  Here are my top three tips:

 

  1. Be ruthlessly honest

Yes, that means telling the client if yours is not the best business for the job, that you don’t have quite the right capability or that there are cheaper options available elsewhere.  Think of it as a short term pain for long-term gain.

 

2.  Know your client’s business inside out

Once of the key differences between a ‘trusted advisor’ and just a regular key account manager or salesperson is depth of knowledge.  Get to know your client’s business in detail and be able to offer tailored and specific guidance and advice.

 

3.  Demonstrate value quickly

Before you take, you have to give.  Whether it’s an article you think they’d particularly like, a new approach that fits perfectly with their culture or an innovative way to help them be more efficient, be thoughtful with your approach.  Your clients will be much more open to you when you want to sell them something new.

 

There aren’t many shortcuts to becoming a trusted advisor, but it’s always worth it in the end to create profitable client relationships for the long-term.