As salespeople, we aspire to become “trusted advisors” to our clients- we want them to “give us the keys to their kingdom”. In the rush to be at that point, we forget to realize that in order to have that status, we need to earn it- it is not an entitlement but a privilege that needs to be deserved after we have proven ourselves capable of that role, through our actions.
Every action we take, whether small or big, direct or indirect, overt or covert, moves us along the “Trust Reputation “continuum- we either move a couple of notches towards the trusted advisor end or we slide backwards to the “Tactical Vendor” end, where the majority of salespeople exist today. It is difficult to create brand value & trust value and very easy to destroy it.
In today’s hyper-connected age where the convergence of SAMC (Social, Analytics, Mobile & Cloud) has made client’s extremely perceptive and astute listeners-every move you make, every step you take, I’ll be watching you (Sting’s lyrics in one of my favorite songs). Inspite of this recent phenomenon, I am continually reminded of how unaware most salespeople are of the signals they are giving out to their customers with each interaction they have with them- a voicemail, email, linked in message, text message, face to face meeting, an introduction to another resource etc. Most salespeople, do not put the customer front and centre of their every interaction and discussion- they either put themselves or their company at that position- as a result, their behavior takes root from that internal focal point, rather than the external orientation that should in reality be their beacon- their lighthouse, their guidepost; that will lead them through stormy waters to greener pastures-that will protect them, less they slip and falter and shield them from the terror of the darkness of the night (Psalms from the Bible).
Put yourself in the customer’s shoes- view the landscape from their lens- understand what pain they have, that they are trying to solve. Listen more, talk less; Ask more relevant & specific questions, rather than proffering recommendations and solutions, too early and too many. Be mindful of your brand, and whether each action you take, either adds to the value bank or depletes from it.
Your reputation, your brand, the trust your client places in you first and foremost, and then in your organization is priceless-the rest of the things are noise and are not sustainable sources of differentiation or sustainable and significant sources of competitive advantage.