How To Be A Trusted Advisor : 7 Actions To Take
No matter what your specific job title may be, it’s in your best interest to be a trusted advisor. Why? Because clients will want to do business with you and your organization. This will increase your revenue and help you live a life filled with financial success. Here are the seven most important characteristics of a trusted advisor. Install these into your daily routine. This will allow you to always hold the upper hand over your competitors.
1) Focus on long-term relationships instead of gains for the short-term.
You’ll never maintain a successful company if your clients don’t feel appreciated. It’s as simple as that. In fact, most business polls state clients desire more contact with business leaders. This is why if you’re in charge of employees, you must teach them how to build lasting relationships. Otherwise, the company’s bottomline is going to suffer. Here at Billions in the Bank, we’ve noticed that many of our own sales training clients express concern. They’re worried about staying in contact with their company’s prospects. They say that they don’t want to seem annoying or pushy. Well, you have to use your better judgment on a case-by-case basis. But a lot of business research has made the same conclusion. The majority of clients prefer getting contacted on a regular basis. Think of it this way. It’s better to risk seeming annoying than risk losing a client to a competitor. That’s why you should train yourself to use your intuition. It will help you figure out when it’s appropriate to reach out to people.
You’ve also got to determine the best outreach strategy for each individual client. For example, some clients prefer to receive calls while some prefer to get emails. But don’t be shy. It’s fine to ask your client how he or she prefers for the two of you stay in touch. The fact that you asked will go a long way in building your reputation as a trusted advisor.
2) Put the interests of your clients or prospects ahead of your own.
If you want to lose clients fast, here’s what you must do. You need to appear to be more interested in yourself than your clients. This is a major turn-off to customers and clients for a variety of reasons. One of the main reasons? It diminishes trust. Why should someone trust you when it’s obvious that you’re focused on what benefits you? That’s why you’ve got to go the extra mile. You should convey that your clients’ problems matter as much (if not more) than your own problems. This is often easier said than done. After all, it’s likely you’re under a lot of pressure every single day. When there’s a lot on your plate, the burden can be almost unbearable when you add other people’s problems to the plate. A great way around this is to ask your client lots of questions. This always goes a long way in showing that you care about their problems. The best part? Asking questions is easy. It requires little search or effort.
Once you’ve asked questions, you’ll have a better idea of potential solutions to suggest to your client. Remember, whenever you’re unsure of what to do, always ask plenty of questions. This goes for any situation in business. Asking questions is the only way to define a problem. Once the problem’s defined, it’s a lot easier to determine potential solutions. Once you have those potential solutions, it’s better to provide them all as options to your client. This is a better strategy than choosing a solution. It makes you appear more knowledgeable and thoughtful. It also increases collaboration and communication with the client. Allowing the client to make the final decision will make him or her feel accomplished.
3) Go out of your way to show interest in your clients/prospects and their businesses.
Think of it this way. You’re going to be a lot more successful when you show interest in others. It’s a lot better of a strategy than trying to get others interested in you. To be a trusted advisor, you have to prove that the fate of your clients’ business matters. There’s no way around this. But don’t stop there. When appropriate, you must also convey interest in your clients’ personal lives.
What’s the key to this? Active listening. It’s not an easy skill to develop. But it sure does pay off when it comes to business. Active listening means you have to apply critical thinking to what you’re hearing. You need to pick up on what ISN’T said as much as what IS being said. Ask yourself questions such as these while you listen to clients or prospects speak:
-What’s the tone of their voice?
-What does this tone convey?
-What topics are they skipping over or nor talking about?
-Why would they not be bringing up certain information?
-How would they respond if I asked them about…?
Developing active listening skills is crucial to becoming a trusted advisor. You’ll be able to pick up on subtleties that can assist you in providing solutions to your clients’ problems.
4) Work hard to determine the needs of your clients and prospects.
Sure, everyone wants something. But there’s a difference between wanting something and needing it. Often in business, someone doesn’t know what they need until they see it or hear about it. That’s where your job comes in. A trusted advisor caters to needs instead of wants. In sales, it’s often the underlying interests that lead to a sale instead of what’s on the surface. Once again, this is why listening is so important. While speaking to clients, you need to be determining what they need. Understanding people is important in business.
It’s like what you must do when it comes to active listening. You have to dig below the surface to figure out what people need. A great shortcut for this is to always be assessing people’s hidden motivations. What is my client actually after? Why is he or she asking me these questions? What would make my client satisfied? What’s going on that hasn’t gotten revealed yet? Wondering questions such as these is key to being a trusted advisor.
5) Always do what you said you were going to do.
There aren’t many ways to lose business faster than seeming unreliable. It’s bad enough that this will cost you clients. But factor in some Yelp reviews and word-of-mouth. Next thing you know, you’ll be out of work or your company will be out of business. The good news- you don’t need to make this harder than it needs to be. The solution is easy. Never say you’ll do something that you’re unsure you’ll be able to do. It’s that simple.
It’s natural to want to tell your clients or prospects whatever they want to hear to make them happy. But you’ve got to ground yourself in reality. Otherwise, you’re committing malpractice. Think about it. It would be like a doctor lying to a patient that a drug can cure a disease. Fast forward six months later…and the disease is still there. It’s better to stay realistic with your clients and prospects. Never pretend that you can solve all their problems. Trusted advisors do all they can. But they can’t do everything. Nor should anyone expect them to. So, whenever you make a promise, do all you can to follow through with it.
6) Be credible.
Credibility is everything in business. Once you or your organization gains a reputation of not being credible, it’s game over. Put yourself in your clients’ shoes. Do you want to spend time and money on an advisor that’s not credible? Of course not. You’re only going to seek help from advisors known for their expertise. Without credibility, you have no authority. And you need authority to succeed in business.
What’s the solution? It’s easy. You’ve got to become an expert at everything you do. There are no exceptions to this. You must go the extra mile to be great at what you do. This means that you may have to devote quite a few hours of your free time to studying your craft. But this shouldn’t bother you if you’re committed to being a trusted advisor. You should be willing to read relevant books and articles. Go to conventions. Hire a trainer or consultant. And much more. Actions like these are the only way that you’ll be able to deliver fresh ideas and solutions to your clients. But don’t get it twisted. This doesn’t mean you should pretend to know everything. A trusted advisor is confident in admitting when he or she is unsure of something. It’s much better to be unsure and do adequate research than it is to lie and pretend that you have all the answers. Saying, “I’m not sure” isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of honesty.
7) Always be authentic.
You can follow all the tips in this article and still be true to yourself. Never think that you have to be someone that you’re not. Clients and prospects are smarter than you think. They can tell who’s a genuine, trusted advisor and who’s playing the role of a trusted advisor. Always go the route of being genuine. Being yourself will pay off.
There’s no magic pill that’s going to turn you into a trusted advisor. Your only solution is to work hard every day to emulate the seven actions in this article. Will you become a trusted advisor overnight? Of course not. But you’ll be on the right track. If you stay consistent, you’ll have more than the respect of your clients and prospects. You’ll have the ability to put more revenue in your pocket than ever before.