One of the many forces that has changed the way people and companies buy is the availability of information. There is more information than ever available to buyers, and it is easily accessible. We have a tendency to make both too much and too little of this trend at the same time.
We make too much of this trend when we assume that because information is easily available that our clients and dream clients have the bandwidth and the desire to go and become researchers. Because they have the ability to do research doesn’t mean they have the willingness or the desire to do research. Most are overwhelmed, understaffed, and under greater pressure than ever to perform financially. Research isn’t at the top of their list.
We make too little of this trend when underestimate what it means about our need for increased business acumen, increased knowledge about our industry and our client’s industry, increased knowledge of our client’s challenges, and our ability to be strategic by bringing our clients new ideas.
In some cases, your client knows what they need, and research is a logical next step. In some cases, they don’t know what they need, and they are too busy to do the research to discover what might help them to make an improvement.
We are all, your clients included, inundated with information, hence, the fire hose analogy. It’s difficult to take a drink from a fire hose. You are the filter that determines what information reaches your clients and dream clients. Your clients count on you to help them acquire the information and ideas that they need. This moves you away from selling products and towards being a strategic advantage.
What do they need you to bring them?
You are the subject matter expert in your industry. As such, your clients expect you to be able to share with them the trends in your industry.
You also have customers. This means you come into contact with the trends in your client’s industry. Because you serve their industry, it’s likely that you also come into contact with information about vendors and suppliers to their industry.
You create value for your clients by keeping the abreast of changes in your industry and the new trends that will benefit them. You create for them by knowing what other companies in their industry are doing, and especially by making them aware of how you are helping them with your offerings. You also make a difference for your clients by knowing about the vendors and suppliers to the industry.
You are a source for what’s new (or you should be).
What’s important and what’s urgent?
Your clients don’t want to be surprised. They don’t want to discover that there were important trends, political events, environmental events, or technological events that disrupted their business, cost them business, or resulted in a lost opportunity.
Not everything that happens is worth your client’s time and attention. You are the filter that determines where they invest their limited attention. If there are earth-shattering events that will negatively affect your clients and their business, you are a valuable partner when you are the first to make them aware. When there are opportunities that they could—and should—be taking advantage of, they expect you to bring them that information.
You are a source for helping to discern what is important early enough that your clients can do something about it.
If you have the business acumen, the situational knowledge, and the information that is news to your client, important to their results, or requires urgent attention and changes, you will be seen as a strategic advantage with a viewpoint worth considering.
This is how you move up the value creation ladder from products, to experiences, to business results, to strategic partner. Knowing what you client needs to know is how you become a trusted advisor. If you are doing anything less, if you are merely providing a report on your features and benefits, you aren’t creating the value that you should be—and someone else is or soon will be.
How do you ensure that you are well versed in the trends and events in your industry and your client’s industry?
Are you aware of the changes going on in the business, political, and societal environments and how they impact your client’s business?
Do you share knowledge with your clients before they can acquire it on their own?
Do your clients consider your viewpoint one that is worth obtaining before they make decisions?