When you book a hair appointment, do you call up the salon and tell them you’re happy for anyone who’s available to do it, or do you have a particular hairdresser who you always try and see?

cliffIt’s usually the latter, right? Even though there are several other qualified stylists in the salon, you still try and go back to the one you know and trust. In fact, you’re probably willing to accept a different date/time if it means you can secure the services of said individual.

It may seem like a random example, but it highlights perfectly how important trust is in any professional relationship.

This reality is what makes day-to-day salespeople strive to become “trusted advisers”. But while we hear this term a lot in the world of B2B selling, what does it actually mean?

A trusted adviser is a salesperson, but that doesn’t mean that all salespeople are trusted advisers. It’s the set of behaviours and attributes they possess that sees them earn this label. The ability to be able to listen to a client’s challenges/problems and then make a recommendation that improves their situation is core.

Buyers are, of course, influenced by brand and product perception, and they always will be, but the salesperson they deal with also plays a significant role when considering a purchase.

What’s the difference between a salesperson and a trusted adviser?

  • Trusted advisers focus on the long-term and are all about building strong relationships with their clients. They do not get hung up on achieving short-term goals.
  • Trusted advisers think in terms of value and ROI for their clients, and not just the revenue they can generate for their own organisations.
  • Trusted advisers do not always prioritise their own interests, and instead target the results that bring value to their clients.
  • Trusted advisers are seen as proven subject matter experts and need to maintain their professional knowledge on an ongoing basis.
  • Trusted advisers rarely ever push products and try to force sales, but rather offer valuable and actionable insights for their clients.

But you can’t just be a trusted adviser. It’s something that you have to work towards and earn.

What defines a trusted adviser?

When we talk about trusted advisers we often think about the six dimensions that invariably define them:

  • Integrity – Clients perceive trusted advisers as dependable, reliable and trustworthy.
  • Competency – Clients see trusted advisers as highly competent and in a position to deliver on any promises they make.
  • Recognition – Clients feel as though they are more than just a number to a trusted adviser and get treated like an individual all the time.
  • Proactivity – Clients believe that trusted advisers are always looking out for their best interests, which they are!
  • Knowledgeable – Clients know that trusted advisers are always focused on the issues that concern them the most.
  • Personable – Clients enjoy working with their trusted advisers and this solidifies the relationship even further exponentially.

It’s worth remembering, though, that these six dimensions are pillars that need to be established, not just behaviours that can be turned on and off at will. Furthermore, all of them depend on the client’s perception. A good salesperson may think they are a trusted adviser, but it’s their clients who will ultimately determine this.


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