The Top 6 Ingredients of a Trusted Advisor
Last week we shared tips to convert loyal clients into raving fans by providing the best service possible. This week we explore the ingredients that make up a trusted advisor, which will make client loyalty easier to guarantee.
By becoming your clients’ trusted advisor, you provide the best defense against your competition. You don’t want to be just another vendor. You want your clients to come to you for everything technology related. When the copier breaks, you want your client to call you, not the copier company. You must become the one-stop shop that they can trust to get anything done.
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So how do you get there? Follow these 6 tips and you’ll be well on your way to becoming your clients’ go-to source for expert tech support.
Put Your Clients First
First and foremost, a trusted advisor puts clients’ needs first. Sustaining the relationship rather than focusing on the outcome of the business at hand is a top priority. Advisors who come across as only interested in themselves will foster distrust with clients. Ego-suppression is key. Building trust starts by making clients feel like solutions and vital decisions come from them.
Understand Their “Why”
Trusted advisors go beyond meeting clients’ explicit and obvious needs by developing a deeper understanding of their implicit, and often hidden, needs. Through active listening and asking the right questions, you’ll be able to establish a relationship where you can proactively manage your clients’ pain points, rather than addressing them reactively as they arise. Getting under the surface to the implicit needs demonstrates genuine interest in their well-being, uncovers their true motivations and exposes their “why.” This kind of intentional engagement is the first step in building trust.
Be an authoritative figure on the subject matter at hand by maintaining up-to-date industry knowledge that will enable you to provide clients with expert, top level service. In IT, that means staying well-informed of the latest technology trends and go-to solutions. Being a trusted advisor means understanding shifting priorities and upcoming innovations in technology.
Deliver on What You Say
The industry expertise that comes with constant industry monitoring is incredibly valuable when it comes to establishing a client connection. However, to turn that credibility into a lasting trust relationship you must be reliable. You know the old adage, “Say what you mean and mean what you say.” It doesn’t matter if you’re a subject matter expert if the client can’t trust you to deliver. Trust can be fragile if you don’t consistently deliver on what you say, and once trust is lost, it’s almost never regained.
David Maister, author of The Trusted Advisor, puts it best when he says, “The movie The Godfather had it wrong when it said ‘It ain’t personal, it’s business.’ The truth is ‘It’s business; it is personal.’” To be an effective advisor you must learn to “recognize, deal with and respond to client emotions.” Empathy is key. Treat clients first and foremost as people, not as members of a group. Lend a sympathetic ear and provide not only support, but also affirmation and appreciation.
Above all, the trusted advisor is in it for the long-term relationship, not the short-term gain. Connect with your clients between projects; they typically prefer just as much contact, if not more, outside the confines of specific fee-based work. Demonstrate an interest in the holistic success of their business and you’ll be seen as a trusted resource throughout the business lifecycle.
Join us next week as we outline ways to solidify your role as a trusted advisor during the 60-day onboarding cycle in 6 easy steps.