Customers are after new information they cannot find themselves and is relevant to their situation and challenges. They are hungry for insights, for new ideas that can take their business results to the next level. Leading your customer conversations with your products and services is not meeting these expectations. So, why are so many salespeople continue to talk about their products and services, persuading their supremacy versus the current supplier, without delivering any insight?
In my view, one of the main reasons why sales executives are falling back on what they know best, instead of leading with insights, is that they do not see themselves as peers to their customers. They see themselves as an account manager whose main task is to serve the customer, to please the customer. They do not realize yet that the customer would be better served by bringing insightful information that is changing their perspective and can help the customer to grow their business and generate more profit.
If you want to be a Trusted Advisor then you should first unlearn to be an account manager as your main focus. True, you have worked hard on building a good relationship, you have earned the trust of the customer. Now focus on the second part of being a Trusted Advisor: advice!
Where does this fear of advising come from? Most likely they feel uncomfortable going deep in business discussions. In their view, the customer knows best how his or her business works. Yes, they do. But they don’t know your business better than you do. They don’t know what you have seen working well with other customers. A salesperson gets to look at multiple companies that are moving and shaking their industry where the customer can only look at one. By meeting and talking to so many businesses you build up knowledge that the customer wishes they had. You know how you have helped other customers achieving their business objectives.
This brings you in a unique position to share with your customer that there is another way of looking at their challenges. In fact, with your knowledge, you should feel confident to bring up any risks you see for the customer when sticking to their current set-up and trusting their current supplier to drive their business forward. Acknowledging these risks maybe for the first time will change the customer’s perspective on their current situation. Share your opinion on how you can help the customer in achieving their business objectives. Your customer contact may take your advice and get more stakeholders involved in the conversation or they may put your advice aside. Whatever it is, you differentiate yourself from your competitor sales execs. You have the customer’s business as your main focus.
Seeing yourself as equal to your customer will give you the confidence in sharing ideas that can help your customer in driving their success. You have transformed from an account manager to a Trusted Advisor.
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