As margins are squeezed and competition increases, long term partnerships are strategically important to almost every business.
I’m sure, like me, the best relationships you have are those that are built on trust. Therefore, I feel it’s crucial that anyone involved in delivering projects need to be able to offer more than just the transactions described by their job titles. This includes roles such as project managers, consultants, technical architects and so on. They need to become trusted advisors.
What is a trusted advisor?
A trusted advisor is an individual who has developed a relationship with the customer beyond a point of sale or project transaction. If you look within your service delivery or operations team, you can probably identify a number of people that customers specifically ask to work with on a regular basis.
If they have a new requirement, they may ask for a consultant by name because they have worked with them previously:
“Could we have a call with Elizabeth please as we would like to implement a timesheet management solution and she knows our business really well”
Or they may ask for advice from a technical architect even though the question falls outside of their skill set:
“We know it’s not really his area of expertise, but we were hoping John may be able to help?”
These are both good examples of where an individual has become a trusted advisor to the customer. Rather than approaching the business for help, the customer is seeking advice from a named individual because they value the advice that will be provided.
How to become a trusted advisor
You could probably come up with a list as long as your arm when it comes to identifying what makes an individual a trusted advisor.
Below, I’ve picked out what I believe are four of the most important traits:
1) Credibility – can you back up with your words and recommendations with demonstrable knowledge and experience? Are you a subject matter expert? If the answer to these questions is yes, then you are well on your way to establishing your credibility in the eyes of the customer.
2) Authenticity – are you genuinely passionate and enthusiastic or going through the motions? It’s difficult to understate how infectious a person’s passion and enthusiasm for a solution or business can be. If you have someone who is excited by what they do, customers will want to join them on that journey.
3) Reliability – no one likes being let down or wants to be the person who doesn’t keep their word. Say what you’re going to do and, more importantly, do what you say you’re going to do. Deliver on your promises.
4) Selflessness – sales directors should probably skip this bit as I’m going to suggest you put your customers’ needs ahead of your own. Not every interaction has to result in a licence sale or more chargeable consultancy work – sometimes the correct advice may result in the opposite. It’s about investing time and energy with no immediate short-term gain but will ultimately benefit you in the long term.
The key takeaway here is that to become a trusted advisor yourself, you need to build relationships with your customers. Take myself and Columbus, for example. Because of the relationship I’ve built with the customer, I’m considered a trusted advisor to them. This view will extend to how the customer views Columbus, meaning the organisation ultimately benefits as a result of my excellence, not vice versa.
Helping you to deliver customer success
Successful projects are built on the back of great relationships, where your project team are considered as trusted advisors.
This means when it comes to putting your project teams together, you need to look beyond utilisation metrics as your key deciding factor for who to deploy. You should ensure you use the most appropriate resource, the ones that demonstrate the traits in the bullet points above and not the most available.
To find out how Dynamics 365 Business Central for Professional Services can help you manage your resources more effectively – enabling you to quickly and easily identify YOUR trusted advisors – click on the button below.