A sales executive told me recently that his team had lost the ability to speak the language of the businesses that they were targeting. He kept hearing from both clients and prospects that salespeople “don’t understand my business.” Instead, they are more focused on the business of things—meaning what they are selling.
The Label of “Trusted Advisor” Is WAY Overused!
Many salespeople and account managers believe they are perceived as “Trusted Advisors” by their clients. Sadly, just one out of 30 sales reps, or roughly 3%, have actually earned that label from clients.
The Five Attributes You Must Embrace to Have a Chance
There are five specific attributes you must possess and demonstrate—in this order—to be considered as a Trusted Advisor by your clients or prospects:
1. You understand the client’s business. Everything else you do is secondary to conveying that you have taken the time to fully understand their business, including how they operate, whom they sell to and what’s important to their CEO as well as to their entire C-Suite. In fact, your goal is to be perceived first as a business person before being thought of as a seller of a product or service.
2. You understand the client’s needs. Closely on the heels of understanding their business, you must show that you know and understand what they want to accomplish (perhaps even help them figure out what they need as well as what the related value is).
3. You deliver on your promises – and when you promise them. During not only the sales cycle but also implementation, it is important that you follow through on both your big commitments as well as the little things. Do they believe you are dependable?
4. You are someone perceived as having power within your own organization. Huh?! Buyers have to believe that you have command over resources within your own company, and that you have access to whatever resource is needed to help them solve problems and/or to implement successfully. Think about it: A prospect can choose from 1 of 2 vendors that have the same product, price and financial condition. What’s going through the buyer’s mind, “What might go wrong once I sign one of these two contracts?” What if scenario A happens, for example? Which of these salespeople has more power within their respective organizations that if that happens, they and their team can get it fixed. Bottom line, you have to be perceived as having clout (and your company has to fully support you with that clout, and never undermine or usurp it).
5. You can communicate your capabilities in the prospect’s language. Once they believe that you understand them, then your job is to translate your company’s capabilities into the language of the prospect – for example, how it will help them solve a problem or take advantage of a missed opportunity.
What Do You Think?
Do you think salespeople do a good job of fully understanding a client’s business? Are you objectively perceived as a Trusted Advisor by your clients and prospects? Leave a comment below.
About the Author
Phil McCrory is founder and president of McCrory & Company, a sought-after sales consulting and training organization. Since starting the company in 1990, Phil has worked with sales executives and client development professionals in hundreds of firms, including some of the world’s leading organizations.
McCrory has been recognized by his Solution Selling® peers and his clients as the top sales consultant and trainer in the Solution Selling® organization.
To learn more about how Phil and his team can help improve your organization’s sale effectiveness, let’s talk.