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"Trusted Advisor" -- IT Services' Holy Grail

Aug 30, 2008
What is this coveted "holy grail"? Some describe it differently but it's the desire of a VAR, solution provider, systems integrator, or any other sales person to be viewed as their clients' trusted advisor. I know that phrase is very over-used but let's focus on the actual meaning. If you don't like the term "trusted advisor" use one that works for you.

What does it mean?

Essentially, you want your client to trust your opinion and counsel. You want your client to bring you into their budget and strategy meetings, months before any product is purchased.

You want to be an essential -- no, not just essential--a "critical" part of their team. You don't want to be seen as just another vendor. The question is: do your clients see you that way? If not, why not? Is it because of the things that you do? Do you act like a *vendor* or do you act like a "trusted advisor"?

Here's how you can tell:

* Are you product neutral? (Please note -- I know a lot of so-called impartial trusted advisors who are product-biased behind the scenes but not in front of the customer. That is the point: you want to be seen by your client as unbiased)

* Do you demonstrate *and* communicate your intellectual property/capital? For instance, do you publish a newsletter, whitepapers and reports, write articles, etc.? Other than your certifications, how does a potential client know what's inside your head? Or better yet, how do they find out what's in it for them?

* Are you more concerned about your Need-to-Sell versus. your client's Need-to-Buy? In other words, are you pushing pre-existing products/solutions before you even diagnose or understand what challenge your client is facing?

There are more ways to know if you are behaving like a "trusted advisor" but these are just a few clues.

Take a look at how you approach you customers.

I can usually tell how much a company acts like a trusted advisor by looking at their web site. Here's how I do it: if the site is inward-looking such as "look at us, see how many certifications we have," or if there is too much me, me, me then I know. ("We do this, we do that, we know what's best for you--just ask us.")

However, if the site is client-centric with everything geared toward how a client can benefit from a consultation, then I know they are on track to being a trusted advisor.

Believe me, the difference is not subtle.
About the Author
Ramon provides more marketing information, especially created for the IT VAR industry but also applies to everyone who wants to improve their sales. Stay up-to-date at StreetSmartVAR.com and while you're there, don't forget to sign up for Ramon's popular, no-cost online marketing course!
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