04/02/2014 - 14:46

Making the leap from ‘satisfied’ to ‘loyal’

04/02/2014 - 14:46

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Do you believe you are a trusted adviser? Do your customers perceive you as a trusted adviser?

Making the leap from ‘satisfied’ to ‘loyal’

What words come to mind when I use the term ‘trusted adviser’?  Relationship? Helpful advice? Strategic alliance? Consultant?

Do you believe you are a trusted adviser? Do your customers perceive you as a trusted adviser?

Take a moment to list your current accounts in which you feel you’re a trusted adviser. List the people who rely on you, and your trusted adviser status. How many are there?

When you complete this list, the first thing to do is compare it with your entire customer base. Are you a trusted adviser to more than 20 per cent of your customer base? Take heart, most salespeople and managers are less than 10 per cent.

And let me clarify before we get too deep into this concept – ‘trusted’ and ‘trusted adviser’ are not the same – not even close. The status of being trusted is one small part of being or becoming a trusted adviser.

Consider this: If you work for a great company, they are trusted. If your products are great, they are trusted. The only variable is you.

Do you believe that your customers view you as a trusted adviser? I hope you do. But a bigger question is: What do your customers believe?

It’s not what you think you are; rather, it’s where the customer places you in his or her mind? How do they see you? How do they regard you? How do they refer to you? How do they talk about you? How much do they respect you? And how much do they trust you?

Here are the levels of competence you can rise to as a salesperson: salesperson; consultant; adviser; strategic adviser; trusted adviser and resource.

These are not titles. They’re roles you play, and positions you are regarded as by the customer. Just because your card says ‘consultant’ doesn’t mean you are one. The proof of title is that the customer perceives you as one.  

The customer’s perception of you is your reality.

The biggest questions to ask yourself are: what am I doing to ensure my status of trusted adviser in the mind of the customer and what can I do to improve my relationship to earn and keep the status?

These elements also beg the question of whether you are doing your best for all your customers, all the time?

Understand that becoming a trusted adviser is much more than just having a great relationship. Trusting is just the beginning.

What are the elements of a trusted adviser?

• Trusted advisers are value providers, not suppliers or vendors.

• Trusted advisers concentrate on business building, not just business seeking, on behalf of the customer.

• Trusted advisers are considered to be friends by their customers.

• Trusted advisers are liked, believed, respected, and trusted.

• Trusted advisers are valuable information providers.

• Trusted advisers are able to combine trust and valuable information.

• Trusted advisers understand the situation their customers are in, and they’re willing to risk being right.

• Trusted advisers are empowered by their customers to act, and they’re willing to take action.

• Trusted advisers help customers profit, not just save money.

• Trusted advisers figure out a way to get more face time.

• Trusted advisers make decisions based on the relationship, not the quarter, or the quota.

• Trusted advisers are always invited in.

A trusted advisers displays professionalism, friendliness, competence, product knowledge, and expertise. Not just an expert, but also an expert communicator.

Reality: Those elements are given – they are the basics that qualify you for the status of trusted advisor.

To earn the status, these basics must be combined with your knowledge of the customer, the customer’s business, and how they use, produce, benefit from, and profit from your products and services.

Trusted advisers keep competitors at bay. And they bridge the gap between a satisfied customer and a loyal customer.

The customer must perceive that you have these qualifications, or you will allow your competition to get in the door and establish some sort of position.

Remember the list I asked you to make at the beginning, but you probably didn’t? For those few of you who did, I wonder if you still have the same people on the list? And for those of you who did not make a list – I venture to say that after this information, I dare say there are fewer people in your ‘they consider me a trusted adviser list’ than you were thinking.

Well, if you’re a bit shaky right about now, let me assure you, if you invest the next few months doing things for your customer, you’ll get a clearer idea of what you must do to establish your position, your relationship, and your reputation.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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