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Maximizing Trust and Expertise: Becoming a Trusted Advisor in Sales

Discover how to earn and maintain trust, and why offering genuine advice is your key to becoming an indispensable trusted advisor.

You only need two things to be a trusted advisor. The first is your contact’s trust. Unless you do something that would cause your prospective client to lose trust in you, you are likely to have the trust you need.

The second thing you need to be a trusted advisor is advice. It is likely that you will not be considered a trusted advisor if you have no advice beyond the self-serving recommendation that your client buy your solution from you. Most salespeople offer almost no advice to their clients, exposing their lack of experience. This causes their contacts to seek someone else who can help with their change initiative.

As the stakes increase for a client charged with a rare decision, your contact and their team may start to trust you less. You may also find your client pulling back if you lack the credibility your contacts need to feel confident and certain that, by taking your advice, they will succeed in improving their business.

Building Trust in Sales: Essential Insights from Experts

Charles H. Green wrote a number of books on trust. My favorites include Trust-Based Selling and The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook. You would do well to pick up both books. Charlie’s work is worth your time, should you want to be a trusted advisor now or in the future. Charlie will tell you that the trust equation is:

Credibility + Reliability + Intimacy / Self-orientation.

Any lack of credibility will cause you to lose the trust you need to be a trusted advisor. Any evidence that you are not someone your contacts can rely on will also prevent them from treating you as their trusted advisor. Intimacy is knowing your client. Part of intimacy is made up of what you know about the client’s company and their industry.

The more you project that this deal is less about your client and more about your commission check, the faster your contacts will check out. Self-orientation kills the trusted-advisor relationship. Consider the car salesperson who tried to sell me a car by offering me the worst deal I had ever seen. He blocked a door to keep from leaving the showroom, so I had to push him out the door to get away. As I was leaving, he yelled at me, “I want to see you in that car!” He was speaking to my back.

I hope you are good on all the ideas about who you must be to be trusted. If you are missing any of these elements—or if you let self-orientation lead you—you should work on your approach.

Leveraging Personal Experience to Offer Valuable Advice

You may not know that when I was young, I had two brain surgeries. When I woke up, my doctor explained that during one procedure, the surgeon had to remove part of my brain. When I went to see the surgeon, I asked him how many of these surgeries he had done, and he answered that he had done around 3,000. It is easy to take the advice of someone who has done something incredibly difficult thousands of times. This brings us to what may cause you to lose trust because of how you have been taught and the B2B sales training your company provided.

There is no room for advice in the legacy approaches to B2B sales because they emphasize the solution. They are focused on the sales organization instead of on the buyer’s experience making a critical decision. This once powerful way to sell has lost its ability to help you win large, enterprise-level sales in our ever-evolving B2B landscape.

The best way to lose large, complex deals is by offering no advice. Instead, you must project your expertise and your experience with the decision the client is facing. We call this being One-Up. When you don’t provide the counsel, advice, and recommendations that your client needs to be able to move forward, you cannot reach the status of a trusted advisor.

If this doesn’t seem fair to you, you must remember you sell what you sell every day. For their part your client faces a rare, important decision, and they lack the experience to know how best to pursue it. They face added pressure because the outcomes they need are important, and they must get the decision right on the first attempt.

You can tell how effective a salesperson is by the advice they offer and how often they share something that helps their client move closer to being able to make a decision that will improve their results in the way they need.

Proven Strategies to Become a Credible and Trusted Advisor

For many years here, I have implored you to become an expert and an authority in your industry. Most of your competitors are too lazy to do the reading and the research that would allow them to become experts. If you are not an authority, you lack credibility, and your contacts will choose to ignore your advice.

You must also do the work to organize the experiences you have had with your clients and the problems you continue to see. A buyer can fail if they don’t know all the pitfalls and challenges they might face. As someone who encounters these difficulties every day, you must share information that will help your clients succeed in improving their results. By leading your client’s buyer’s journey, you provide advice that will help them make an important decision.

Leaving this article, look back over your last four or five client meetings and count the number and the nature of the advice you offered your client. A lack of advice will lower your status in your client’s eyes. Little or no advice will cause you to lose the credibility you need for your client to buy from you.


Sales 2024
Post by Anthony Iannarino on April 17, 2024

Written and edited by human brains and human hands.

Anthony Iannarino

Anthony Iannarino is an American writer. He has published daily at thesalesblog.com for more than 14 years, amassing over 5,300 articles and making this platform a destination for salespeople and sales leaders. Anthony is also the author of four best-selling books documenting modern sales methodologies and a fifth book for sales leaders seeking revenue growth. His latest book for an even wider audience is titled, The Negativity Fast: Proven Techniques to Increase Positivity, Reduce Fear, and Boost Success.

Anthony speaks to sales organizations worldwide, delivering cutting-edge sales strategies and tactics that work in this ever-evolving B2B landscape. He also provides workshops and seminars. You can reach Anthony at thesalesblog.com or email Beth@b2bsalescoach.com.

Connect with Anthony on LinkedIn, X or Youtube. You can email Anthony at iannarino@gmail.com

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