Category Archives: Trusted Advisor

June 28th, 2016

Professional Selling Skills & The Importance of Networking

professional selling skills & networking

Your Client Network May Not be as Strong as You Think

Proficiency in sales is a desired objective for individuals interested in building their professional selling skills. It denotes competence, expertise, know-how, and mastery. Yet, certain proficiencies can lead sales professionals into traps that sabotage relationships with clients. In this series of posts, I will share four proficiency traps and how to avoid them. The first was The Technical Trap; the second, The Execution Trap; and this third involves networking within the client organization.

Your Professional Selling Skills Can Be Improved by Focusing on Constant Networking

Sales professionals are usually quite good at building a network of relationships within client organizations. The trap they fall into, however, is taking these networks for granted. They fail to track how the structure, politics, or budget priorities change over time, and they overlook relationships that should be cultivated with other influential stakeholders.

Some buyer-seller relationships have been so longstanding that sales professionals begin to feel a little too secure. They may have earned trusted advisor status with key stakeholders and built a large network of contacts at different levels. This is all good — until it isn’t.

Few, if any, client organizations are static. Change can be fast or slow; come in spurts or be ongoing. In an increasingly challenging sales environment, change is to be expected and anticipated. » Continue Reading.

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April 20th, 2015

Benchmarks to Becoming a Trusted Advisor

becoming a trusted advisor

Benchmarks to Becoming a Trusted Advisor

In our  last blog post we  discussed, as a trusted advisor,  how to earn your seat at the table as part of the buying process so that you are able to help shape opportunities rather than just react to them. Today we are going to review the road to becoming a trusted advisor to buyers and the several relationship benchmarks that sales professionals need to keep in mind on their journey.

Few things are more important than preparation when meeting with a buyer. How well you prepare can immediately differentiate you from the competition. The focus of your efforts should cover three important areas:

Strategic impact: What business goals and objectives is the buyer supporting with this purchase? Buyer needs: What’s important to the buyer on both a business and personal level? Technical preparation: Do you have a thorough knowledge of the product or service you’re selling?

Being prepared in the right ways, focusing on these three areas, can go a long way toward securing that elusive second meeting with buyers, especially on the executive level. If you don’t ask the right questions, if you can’t provide executives something they don’t already know, why should they buy from you?

Another important consideration in your preparations is to focus on leading, not lagging, indicators of success. Doing so adds relevancy to the conversation.

At Richardson, » Continue Reading.

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April 15th, 2015

Becoming a Trusted Advisor Can Earn You a Seat at the Table


Becoming a Trusted Advisor Can Earn You a Seat at the Table

“The hardest thing about B2B selling today is that customers don’t need you the way they used to.”

That is the first sentence of “The End of Solution Sales,” an article about the changing environment in business-to-business (B2B) sales that appeared in the July 2012 issue of Harvard Business Review.

At the heart of the matter lies the fact that buyer behavior has been radically altered by the Web, even in just the last few years. We have all seen the now magical statistic many times that buyers are 60% of the way through the buying process before they consult with a salesperson.

Moreover, the buying process itself now typically has more decision makers, often involving a committee that must reach consensus, instead of a single contact. This adds delays to the selling process, resulting in slower pipeline velocity, more stalled deals, and even the dreaded “no decision” status. Only those who are transactional sellers in a transactional business or those who become trusted advisors have the ear of the right buyers and can move deals through the pipeline effectively.

The problem is, “trusted advisor” status can’t be claimed. It has to be earned — and the only opinion that matters is the buyer’s.

So, what can sales reps do to differentiate themselves and elevate their status with buyers to become trusted advisors? Here are five tips » Continue Reading.

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July 30th, 2014

Sales Reps Need to Earn Their Clients’ Trust — And Keep It

Clients Trust

Sales Reps Need to Earn Their Clients’ Trust — And Keep It

Trust is tough to build and easy to lose.

Buyers in the process of making a purchasing decision consider many factors, but none might be more important than trust. When hiring or renewing a contract with a product or service provider, a lack of trust can undermine any other variable and isn’t likely something that can be haggled over, such as price or delivery dates. This is especially true of large, long-cycle, complex sales typically found in sectors, such as financial and professional services, IT, HR, and accounting.

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August 20th, 2013

The Trust Equation – Four Essential Factors for Building Trust with Sophisticated Buyers Part 2


The Trust Equation – Four Essential Factors for Building Trust  with Sophisticated Buyers Part 2

This is the second of a two-part guest post written by Andrea Howe, co-author of “The Trusted Advisor Field Book” and creator of The Get Real Project.

In Part 1 of Four Essential Factors for Building Trust  with Sophisticated Buyers, I suggested that even though trust-based selling is far from formulaic, it helps to approach it with a formula in your back pocket: the trust equation.

So far we’ve covered two of the four variables of the trust equation: “S” (self-orientation) and “I” (intimacy). My advice in a nutshell: “Get off your ‘S’” and “Go soft.”

Part 2 reveals some unexpected aspects of “C” (credibility) and “R” (reliability).

Tell the Truth, Especially When It Makes You Look Bad

People don’t want to buy from people who know everything; people want to buy from people who know enough to meet their needs and who have a track record of dealing with others directly and honestly. In other words, they need to be confident in both the message and the messenger. That’s because credibility, as the trust equation defines it, is as much about truthfulness as it is about knowledge and experience.

Building others’ confidence in you as the messenger is harder than it sounds » Continue Reading.

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August 16th, 2013

Four Essential Factors for Building Trust with Sophisticated Buyers, Part 1 of 2


Four Essential Factors for Building Trust  with Sophisticated Buyers, Part 1 of 2

This is the first of a two-part guest post written by Andrea Howe, co-author of “The Trusted Advisor Field Book” and creator of The Get Real Project.

Here’s something I’ve learned about sales professionals in the years I’ve been leading training programs: they’re avid learners in hot pursuit of excellence. And for the best of the best, “excellence” is determined not by numbers, but by the difference they make. Use this four-part checklist to gain insight into ways to raise your game.

Do the Math

In this day and age, there are very, very few who dispute the importance of building trust in the sales process.

While trust-based selling is far from formulaic, it helps to approach it with a formula in your back pocket. That’s where the trust equation comes in.

David Maister, Charlie Green, and Rob Galford first wrote about the trust equation in The Trusted Advisor in 2000. Eleven years later, Charlie and I reprised it in The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook. It’s proven to be a perennial favorite.

One reason for the trust equation’s popularity is that it has many uses. As a conceptual framework, it demystifies what it really takes to be trustworthy. It can also be used in a more specific way to “score” a particular person (you) or a particular relationship (yours with a client). » Continue Reading.

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April 29th, 2013

Trusted Advisor 2.0

Trusted Advisor

Trusted Advisor 2.0

A few years ago, I identified the ten characteristics of a Trusted Advisor.  As I look back at that list, I see it has become more like the price of admission.  With the radical changes that have taken place in the selling landscape, while every one of the ten attributes remain valid, they are no longer sufficient.

What has remained true through time however, are the two words themselves: trusted and advisor.  But what these words mean and why they are so essential today has changed. 

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