At a recent ” new way of selling” training, a discussion arose around the differences between a Sales Person and a Trusted Advisor. You can put either title on your business card, but in simple terms, both rely on the Customer’s perception. The Customer decides who is the Trusted Advisor. To become one, you have to go outside your comfort zone.
The new way of selling caused a transformation wave for thousand of salespeople. We had to change. We were relying on the same sales approach decade after decade for too long. We were caught thinking that Customers must have problems and pain points caused by their current supplier. And we, Salespeople, had all the answers. We knew our products, services, capabilities and differentiators the best. We knew something the Customer didn’t know, and that knowledge gave us the confidence to sell.
How things have changed. The irony is: Knowledge is still the differentiator. But it is a different type of information that the Customers are after. They know their business, but they don’t know yours. They do not come in contact with as many different companies as you do as a salesperson. You are helping similar Customers with growing their business every day. Your experience tells you which strategy works well and which ones do not. You see risks that they don’t see. You see opportunities that go unnoticed by them.
This type of knowledge and experience doesn’t come by itself. In the past, you needed to know everything that your company had to offer. Now the emphasis is on better understanding everything going on outside your company. You need to understand the impact of:
- A changing economy
- Industry trends
- Industry challenges
- Political pressures
- Devaluation of country currencies
- Changing Customer behaviours
- Changing consumer preferences
- Sticking or changing to different business models
- Possible industry disruptors
That is the difference between a Salesperson and a Trusted Advisor. The first focus too much or too soon on sales acumen, hoping to find pain points so differentiation can be made. The Trusted Advisor uses business acumen to bring a different perspective to the Customer’s challenges and comes with ideas to achieve their goals in a different unexpected way. To do that, you need to step outside your comfort zone.
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