In business, trust gives you a true competitive advantage over your competitors, for some pretty obvious reasons. But often, organizations don’t pay attention to building and maintaining that level of trust with their clients, prospects, and vendors. They allow their employees to remain too focused on being the technical experts they believe their clients need, or worse, laser focused on making a profit.
Creating that critical trust isn’t difficult. But it does require a mindset change, at least in the beginning. Your employees need to step out of their comfort zones, to show customers and prospects how you are just what they need, when they need it. You must also be open to the fact that this expanded role may not always include the primary service you provide. You, and your employees, want to become the first place an organization thinks to contact when they have a question or a concern, or place an order.
Who in your organization builds this trust and creates these relationships? You can find these trusted advisors throughout your organization, in sales and technical support as well as in customer service.
What does a trusted advisor look like?
They’re pretty easy to spot, as they share a number of unique characteristics, whether they’re wearing a suit and tie or a Hawaiian shirt and flip flops:
- Customers and prospects ask for them by name.
- They have excellent communication skills, which means they’re honest, present, and strong listeners. They hear those stated and unstated wants and needs, ask the right questions, and listen to the response, considering what they know about the organization and the situation before
- They give advice that is outside their technical scope of expertise. And their level of well-rounded experience and training allows them to do just that. Or, if it’s something they’re truly not comfortable answering, they know who to ask (See #4).
- They maintain relationships in a range of areas. Who knows when one of their customers/prospects will need a referral to a dairy farmer in the Midwest, or a chief marketing officer looking for a new job?
What’s the benefit of being a trusted advisor?
Having a stable of trusted advisors in your organization is critical to its success. These individuals have such a big impact on those you rely on for your profit. Your trusted advisors:
- Build deep customer relationships. Often they’re so entrenched in a clients’ organization that they’re asked by these clients to take a seat at their executive table. With this level of trust, they become part of the client’s innermost circle, providing advice and support.
- Provide more complete solutions, as they take the time to understand the client’s big picture and exactly what is needed, from all angles.
- Have high levels of job satisfaction, as they have broader responsibilities and complete more and greater tasks than they would in other organizations; and
- Give their organizations a competitive edge that puts them ahead of their competitors.
How your employees can become trusted advisors
The good news is that making this shift isn’t an impossible task, if your employees are willing to step up. They’re already technical experts, so they need training in a number of soft skill areas, like communication, relationship building, listening, and persuasion. They’ll also need to be willing to network and build relationships with individuals and organizations that can benefit their clients. It’s not enough to have collected a lot of business cards – they need true relationships they can rely on.
But most importantly, they’ll need clear communication around your company’s business goals, priorities, and expectations. It’s critical for them to have the buy-in from your leadership that allows them to, as necessary, step out of their technical roles to build these long term, lasting, productive relationships with clients, prospects, vendors, and referral sources.
MKS&H experts are our clients’ trusted advisors
At our core, we are accountants. We started our company more than 70 years ago to provide the accounting services that allow our clients to meet their financial requirements. But as with all successful businesses, our focus needed to shift and expand to meet the changing needs of our customers. That shift has transformed our accountants into trusted advisors.
While we will always provide the technical accounting services our clients need, we also deliver the expertise, information, and referrals that allow them to meet their financial goals, pivoting with them as their needs and goals change. Whether they need insight around buying or selling a manufacturing facility, meeting new federal death care reporting guidelines, or using margin management to increase their profits, we are there to help.
Our relationships with our clients go so much deeper than dollars and data. And we wouldn’t have it any other way. All of our subject matter experts develop an understanding of their client partners, including their cultures, goals, and dreams. And they use that information to inform the recommendations that transform complex financial data into meaningful content and help our clients reach their fullest potential. This partnership also includes:
- Working as a team, both with our co-workers and our clients;
- Measuring our success by our client’s ability to meet their goals;
- Keeping our clients informed; and
- Ensuring our clients are surrounded and supported by a team of business advisors who deliver and implement practical, comprehensive solutions.
How big is your group of trusted advisors? How can you grow it? Start by being a greater help to your customers, instead of just trying to sell to them. Allow your experts to build these relationships and the changes will be obvious. They’ll show themselves through improved communications, customer loyalty, and most importantly, sales, which translates to increased revenue.
What does your organization do for its customers and prospects, to show them that you’re a trusted advisor? Leave a comment below. And, feel free to contact us if you want to work with a group of true trusted advisors.