Over the past decade, the term “trusted advisor” has taken root in sales and throughout the business world. Its popularity has spawned numerous books and thousands of articles about how today’s customers want to interact with you and your brand. The old adage of “it’s not personal, it’s business” has completely flipped. Relationships now make or break deals.

So what does it actually mean to be a trusted advisor? Is the term more than a couple of buzzwords? And does it still matter to sales leaders of today? We asked, and here’s what they had to say:

“I like what [trusted advisor] stands for: You’re either in blast mode and just barging in on prospects and customers about what you want, or you have a different mindset of how you add value. For example, engaging with insights is a great one. Sharing interesting, relevant content, and also reading and learning about your customers. It’s also hard to be a trusted advisor when you’ve left seven voicemails and played games trying to get through on the phone. It’s a lot easier to be a trusted advisor by reaching out to someone who you know in common, and who tees you up and makes the introduction.”

— Mike Derezin, Vice President of Sales Solutions, LinkedIn

“This concept of trusted advisor is going to matter more than ever before. It’s the most fun part of sales, but it’s also the hardest part to teach people how to do … I hear a lot of companies talking about it, but I don’t see a lot of companies acting on it. You can’t as leaders tell your teams, ‘I want you to be a trusted advisor. Now get 20 transactions done by the last day of the month.’ You have to teach them the balance of what it means, and how the less they focus on their quota and the stress of their quota this month, and the more they focus on their customer being successful, the more the quota will take care of itself.”

— Tony Rodoni, EVP, Commercial Sales and Market Readiness, Salesforce

“If you think about the attributes of the word ‘trust’ itself, it means that people believe you for the words that you speak, not for some ulterior motive. Obviously it’s a delicate balance when you’re asking for financial investment; but if you don’t have the trust of a prospect, he or she isn’t going to buy from you. So honesty, despite the fact that it may not put you or your solution in the best light, is really important.”

Stephen Morse, Vice President of Global Sales Engineering and Technical Success, Mixpanel

“I love the term [trusted advisor] and it’s something I embrace. At LogMeIn specifically, it’s about making sure our customers are aware that we’re listening to their feedback and challenges, and we’re trying to develop solutions that meet their needs. One of the most incredible things is that the products we make and work with our customers on actually help them run and launch their businesses. It’s a wonderful lesson and an opportunity to get totally embedded with them. The more we can understand their business, the more our solutions meet those needs, and the more we maintain that trusted advisor relationship.”

— Amy Appleyard, Vice President of Sales, LogMeIn

“Personally, I don’t like to be sold to. If I feel like I am, I just tune out. To me, selling is all about trust. If you go in and you’re only about selling something, there’s no trust. If someone really gets to know me and has my best interests at heart, then I’m willing to invest in that relationship. And trust is built. Sales reps need to understand customer needs and explore how they can provide legitimate solutions. As a customer, I’d have that conversation every day.”

— Tim Simmons, Vice President of Member Management, Sam’s Club

“There’s a stigma about being a salesperson that you are all about the close versus recognizing that not every piece of business is a fit. So if you’re advising someone or counseling someone, there may be a point in the [sales process] where you’re like, “I don’t think we’re going to be able to deliver this for you,” or “It’s not a good fit because of the budget,” or “It’s not a good fit because of the importance of what you’re doing.” I get it. You’re consulting with someone. You’re advising someone. But I don’t think I’d be changing people’s business cards to “trusted advisor” anytime soon.”

— Carrie Campbell, Vice President of Sales and Services, Boston Red Sox

“We say everyone has a friend who’s ‘the car guy.’ The person at church or the person on your soccer team who is the car person, who you go to as your trusted advisor. We like to provide that to our customers. We say, ‘Look, call us. It doesn’t even have to be about a specific car. Just call us for advice.’”

— Minnie Ingersoll, COO, Shift Technologies

This concept of trusted advisor is going to matter more than ever before. It’s the most fun part of sales, but it’s also the hardest part to teach people how to do.”

Tony Rodoni | EVP, Commercial Sales and Market Readiness, Salesforce
 
 
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