It’s a common quandary. Customers consider you to be just a vendor. Sometimes one of many. Meanwhile, you know you’ve got a lot more skills, information and advice to share with them. So how do you make the leap in their minds from a vendor to a business advisor?
- Communicate with care: The number one way to positively influence how people see you is by communicating in a way that proves you’ve got their best interests at heart. Put them first. Instead of being self-serving, be sure your approach exudes:
- Credibility—That means presenting yourself—what you say and how you say it—in a way that demonstrates you have knowledge relevant to the person you’re working with and to their particular situation. First impressions are lasting so make your initial 30-second intro count. Learn how to craft a Credibility Introduction that gets you noticed.
- Experience—People turn to advisors because they bring a wealth of experience with the challenge that a prospect is facing. Think about similar scenarios where you’ve helped clients that are in the same pickle your customer is in. Share the results. Gather the common steps and solutions into best practices. And offer these insights to your customer.
- Success—Not every engagement is successful. In fact, success comes on the heels of several attempts that were misses. Instead of failures, think of these instances as ways to learn what doesn’t work and how to do things better. Present those experiences and save your customers even more time and money.
- Professionalism—Business casual doesn’t mean unprofessional. Whether you’re showing up in a jacket or a “nice” t-shirt, a prospect will think you’re professional when you show up on time, prepared and neatly dressed. Need we say more?
- Believability—One of the most charming traits is when a person is genuine. Hopefully, you’re following a proven sales process that you believe in and is inherent in your communication style. Along with that, it’s important to infuse your true personality—quirky, nerdy or just plain funny—into the mix. Be real.
- Build rapport: When you build rapport, you and your customer become like-minded. You’ve demonstrated empathy toward them and their situation. You’re communicating effectively together. Totally natural. In the flow. Rapport goes beyond the small talk, getting you to a common ground where you can establish a working relationship.
- Develop trust: Trust happens over time. Do you consistently do what you say? Are you curious about the customer? Do you listen? A relationship, personal or business, is a pathway to trust. As a colleague once said, “I might like you. But if I don’t trust you, I won’t buy from you.” Once trust is broken, it’s time-intensive and time consuming to repair. So stay vigilant in keeping your word and developing trust.
Rather than pitching and pushing products and services, a trusted advisor helps customers accurately diagnose problems and then collaborates around the solutions. A trusted advisor is also the first person to tell a customer if the product or service isn’t a fit. They don’t try to force a square peg into a round hole. You will find this honesty goes a long way, perhaps even prompting a referral.
Remember the scene in Miracle on 34th Street where Kris Kringle advises a woman to go to a different department store to find the Christmas present she’s looking for? Suddenly, Macy’s was the place to get advice on the best place to find and buy gifts. In the movie, Kris Kringle and Macy’s became trusted advisors.
Be attentive to communicating with care, building rapport and developing trust, and you’ll transform yourself in the eyes of your customers into a trusted advisor.