Become Your Customer’s Trusted Business Advisor

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Who do you trust these days? With economic uncertainty and the perils of unemployment numbers growing, knowing whom to turn to for the best business advice can be tricky. Naturally, you want to partner with those customers and vendors who understand what the value can provide them, whether it’s products, services, or both. However, if you’re thinking of yourself these days as a supplier -a business that your customer turns to only to acquire products – think again. In today’s relationship-centered culture, you must elevate your game. Cut through the crowd of the ordinary, those who merely meet expectations, and stand out. Become a trusted business advisor.

If you look at those people in whom you put your faith when it comes to your finances (although the list may be waning a bit these days), you want to turn to a trusted financial advisor, someone who has the knowledge, experience, and judgment to give you the best advice possible. Yes, the financial advisor can take your money and offer suggestions of where to invest it. He can transact the investment for you. But the provider’s value goes beyond that. Your advisor stays ahead of the financial curve, watching the markets daily – sometimes hourly or even minute by minute – to be able to provide the insight to guide you through your next steps. He doesn’t just execute the transaction; he advises you of your options and then makes a recommendation based on his wisdom and insight. In order for you to stay ahead of your competition, you must do the same thing for your customers.

Now more than ever, your customers want the complete package. Getting the best products to fit their specific needs and solve their detailed problems is expected. More than that, they want someone to put the solution to work, and offer training and support to keep the products or services updated. And then they want turnkey tools that enable them sell it to their end user. And if you can help them with lead generation, you’ll score high marks on the trusted advisor scale.

So how do you do it? How do you create the complete package and then leverage yourself as that trusted business advisor? Clearly, much of your success will depend on your follow-through. But here are a few tips to keep in mind as you begin to position yourself in a new, brighter light to your customers:

– Know your customers’ current situation and objectives. Once again, it’s all about listening to your customer. Tune in to find out how they’re surviving now and what tools they need in order to achieve their goals and objectives. Gather as much detailed information as you can as brain food for nourish your creative thinking.

– Identify your end users’ needs. It’s important to remember what your end user is looking for. In order to be that trusted advisor, you must have a strong read on what your customers’ customers want and provide ideas and recommendations to meet those needs. In doing so, you will be providing excellent guidance and support as your customers’ advisor.

– Provide a thoughtful plan that serves nuggets of the future. Your customers are turning to you to be their business wizard -to magically steer them in the right direction. If you can provide invaluable insight time and again that successfully guides them down the road to success, they’ll keep coming back. Create a step-by-step solution that addresses their needs while taking in to account current and future trends. Then put the plan into action.

– Measure and track ROI. Time and again, we develop solutions that look good on paper, but once implemented, fall flat. If you’re looking for a way to lose the trust of your customers, this is it. If you can’t measure results that track back to the programs and initiatives you put in motion, your customers have no proof of your success. If the tree falls in the forest with no one around, does it make a sound? If you can’t measure it, don’t do it. It’s that simple.

Your customers need strategic ways that showcase to their customers the advantages of doing business with them, versus choosing their competition. And they’re looking for cost-effective, profitable ways to do this. Everyone needs a guide, and whether they realize it or not, your customers truly want someone who can give them profitable solutions to implement in their day-to-day business operations. They need and want a trusted business advisor to show them the way. So stop writing up orders and start creating solutions.

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