Trusted Advisor or Typical Salesperson?

Does anyone, besides me, get a little tired of the buzz words thrown around in the sales profession? Salespeople are told to be trusted advisors, consultants and solution salespeople. Just what does all this jargon really mean? Let’s go back to Webster’s Dictionary. Trust is defined as ‘assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something.’

A key word to note is truth. How many of your prospects really believe you are showing up to seek the truth and do the right thing for them? Think about it. Sales is a broken model. You don’t get paid unless you sell something! No wonder prospects are skeptical about your intent. Here are three things that you can do to assure prospects that you can be trusted and have their best interest in mind.

#1: Follow your parents’ advice.
Tell the truth. Tell the truth so you don’t have to remember what you said or did. It’s good parenting advice and good sales advice. For example, if your company can’t deliver a product on-time, let your prospect and customer know. Most prospects and customers can deal with bad news. What they can’t deal with are surprises. It’s hard to manage or prepare for Plan B if you don’t even know that Plan A isn’t working! If you don’t have expertise in an area, refer your client to another person or firm. Tell the truth and your clients will remember, return and refer.

#2: Seek the truth and do the right thing.
Your job as a sales professional is to figure out the root cause of a prospects problem. The challenge in sales is remembering that the problem presented by the prospect is generally not the real issue. In the psychology world, they call it the presenting problem. For example, in the sales training business, I often hear the words “We are not closing enough business.” The easy answer is to sell the prospect a program on closing skills. Because I am seeking the truth, I ask more questions. “Well, is this a closing problem or is your marketing department not attracting the right prospects?” (Perhaps the marketing department needs help, not the sales department.) “Do you have the right people on your team? (Perhaps the company needs to invest in working with a recruiting firm not a sales training firm.)

#3: “Act like you did in the beginning.”
This quote comes from Tony Robbins, motivational author and speaker. He shares with his audiences that if most of us acted like we did in the beginning, we would continue to enjoy more success personally and professionally. (How many of you were really well mannered when dating your spouse? How many of you didn’t take your best clients for granted?) Reflect on how you behaved when you started in your profession. Were you curious and open to learning and development? Did you seek advice from mentors? Fast forward a few years. Are you still curious and open to learning or have you settled into the land of complacency? How can you be a trusted advisor, giving advice, if you aren’t getting any smarter? Business changes every year. Do you? Curiosity may have killed the cat but it keeps salespeople alive!

#4: Be a resource.
Your prospects and clients have lots of needs and little time. Take the time to meet with other salespeople that have different areas of expertise than yours. Make it a goal to be the “go-to” person for your clients. Years ago, a colleague of mine got a call from a client asking if she knew anyone that conducted Six Sigma training. My colleague is as far from Six Sigma as you can get. So why did she get the call? Because her client knows that she has relationships with smart resources that provide good advice. They were looking for a shortcut.

#5. Walk the talk.
How many of you know someone that is giving advice….and not applying it? Prospects and customers quickly spot people operating from the “do what I say and not what I do” playbook. The do/say gap erodes credibility fast. You may be the smartest guy in the room, however, people may not trust your advice due to lack of personal execution. Broke financial planners have a hard time selling their services. Sales trainers with empty sales pipelines have a difficult time commanding respect.

Tell the truth, do the right thing and act like you did in the beginning. Be a resource and walk the talk. Now you are on your way to being a trusted advisor.

Good Selling,
Colleen Stanley


Colleen Stanley

Colleen Stanley is president of SalesLeadership, Inc., a business development consulting firm specializing in sales and sales management training. The company provides programs in prospecting, referral strategies, consultative sales training, sales management training, and hiring/selection. Reach Colleen… more

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