Growing up, I remember watching the television commercials for the financial firm EF Hutton. “When EF Hutton talks, people listen,” the famous tagline proclaimed. (I may have just dated myself a bit with that memory.)
As I’m researching for my upcoming book, The Modern Seller, that phrase comes to mind. How can we, as modern sellers, ensure that our clients and prospects will stop to listen to us in this busy world with a million messages and distractions a minute? Even more, how can we influence them to take action toward a different result?
One way is to elevate beyond a typical sales person and “order taker,” transitioning to a strategic advisor.
As the title indicates, a sales pro who is a strategic advisor is strong on strategy. They know their solutions, of course, but their knowledge extends well beyond to include the latest industry and business trends. They’re strong listeners who seek to solve challenges a customer might not even realize are there. They are always learning. They cut through the clutter. Because of these things, they’re trusted.
I polled my network recently to find out what they’re doing to secure their place as strategic advisors. I’ll share a couple of the answers here.
Kate Burgener, a designer in Columbus, said, “I genuinely try to help them solve their problems. They’re not simply ordering a service from me. I’m weighing in.”
Diahn Hevel, a performance management consultant, simplified it this way. “Bottom line: clients want to experience continuing education/insights and true collaboration. Sounds simple enough, yet we know only a few organizations execute well on this.”
Transitioning into a strategic advisor role does sound simple, but it takes a different way of thinking and also new behaviors. To become that differentiator to your customer and create that competitive advantage, put these three actions into place:
- Make it a point to get outside of your industry for a different perspective and knowledge. This will help you create fresh, new ideas and insights. Ones your customers are likely not thinking of.
- Draw connections from those new ideas to strategies that can align with your customer’s priorities.
- And as a last step, you also need to execute—the tactical. Transform those ideas and connections into specific actions that your customers might take. Ideally this would create demand for your product or service – but sometimes it doesn’t, and a strategic advisor is OK with that. This type of approach is about long-term value and not a short-term sale.
When we do these things, we aren’t just selling. We are modern sellers who deliver true business value.
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