Consultative selling has been a major movement in sales over the last years. But how can you make the transition from being a sales person to trusted advisor? This post will shed some light on the strategies salespeople can adopt in their approach to rise become a trusted advisor to their clients and therefore improve their conversion and retention rate.
Breaking from the pack and transitioning from common or garden sales person to the hallowed status of trusted advisor is no mean feat. It is a leap few in the profession successfully make, but one that with a little introspection and a healthy dose of commitment we can all make.
Here’s five tips that will put you on the right path and transform your sales performance in ways you may have only dreamed:
1. Cut the crap.
No BS, tell the truth. All too often organisations drive their employees to bring home the bacon at whatever the cost. White lies are tolerated and sometimes even advocated as an acceptable way to drive revenue performance. It is no surprise that to many buyers sales is a dirty word and that common perceptions of sales people as “tricky” or “snake oil peddlers” prevail. The trusted advisor isn’t focused on their number or the quarter, they’re focused on doing the right thing by the customers and the customer knows it. The trusted advisor never lies for expediency or simplicity’s sake, never tells a porky because of limited product knowledge and, above all knows their status in the broader market relies on the integrity of their relationship. The trusted advisor knows that if they can’t deliver on their promises word will spread and they are happy to walk away or recommend an alternative, more appropriate solution rather than disappoint the customer.
2. Don’t sell, provide value.
Sounds simple, but it is remarkable how few business developers adopt this approach. Emphasis on value delivery, or even better profit delivery is the foundation upon which great, sustainable business relationships are built. Failure to demonstrate the value you can deliver is a sign you do not really care about the customer’s outcomes. It is a barrier to trust and, moreover opens the doors to a host of objections. For instance, as we flagged in this article, in our experience the majority of pricing objections are raised because the prospect does not fully understand your value proposition or you haven’t delivered it clearly.
3. Be The Expert.
To be a trusted advisor you need more that great product knowledge and the gift of the gab. You need to show your prospects you understand your competition, their competition and what’s really going on in the market. There’s no shortcut to be had here; it is essential that you put in the hard yards and do your homework. With the plethora of high quality sales intelligence resources available, it is simply inexcusable to be in the business development theatre without doing your prospects the courtesy of establishing and deploying genuine knowledge. Those that don’t will never bridge the all-important credibility gap between salesperson and trusted advisor.
4. Know what makes your customers tick.
Take the time to see things from the customer’s perspective. The questions you ask are crucial – you must build an understanding of each individual prospect’s business and be able to demonstrate why your solution is the right one for them. A simple brochure sale will never build the respect the trusted advisor relies upon. A sincere interest in your customer first, and your product second quickly demonstrates the cut of your jib and establishes your credibility. Empathy is one of the most potency sales skills going; it is a differentiator that builds trust, putting you and the customer on the same team.
5. Solve your customers’ problems and help them cut through information overload.
Modern buyers know more about the solutions available on the market than ever before. Buyers are not like those of days gone past; they are savvier and through the web, their professional network and friends probably know more about your offering and the competitive field than they let on. The trusted advisor knows this and goes out of their way to decode this tsunami of information, sharing business insights and expertise to help the buyer make sense of the options available and giving them confidence they are buying the most appropriate solution. For the no-BS trusted advisor, this may mean forgoing a short-term sales opportunity, safe in the knowledge that further opportunities with the customer lie just a little further down the road.
Follow these simple suggestions and trust, respect and loyalty with your customers awaits. The quid pro quo is that before long your personal brand equity will soar and they will be referring business to you.