Monday, October 19, 2009

Trusted Advisor, the highest level that a salesperson can achieve…

In sales we are always looking for the ultimate sale. For our ship to come in, the mother load of all orders! I would question that supposition with another idea. I think that there are levels or depths that we can achieve in our relationship status that can better serve us long term. These levels or "bridges" if you will (yes I read "how to win friends and influence people" lol about 20+ years ago) bring us to places in our relationship with a client that ultimately will earn us not only the right to do business, but also the right to take the order of all times. There are quite a few levels that a sales person can go through and many exits to the hierarchy. If you progress up the ladder you eventually end up in a new place as the trusted advisor. This cannot be bought you can give all of the good deals you want. You can lose money on their business but until you start speaking the truth and performing your word you will never be in the position to take the "great order."

Here are the levels as I understand them to be:

Of no consequence – This is the first time you walk in; no one pays you any attention as they never believe that they will see you again.

Undesireable – This is the next level as they identify you as the dreaded "salesman"

Nuisance – this is the one that causes most salespeople the most trouble. This is where they recognize you when you call or walk in and do not want to talk to you as they have told you a hundred times, "we are not in the market." Or "we don't need anything." This is where call reluctance really sets in as you know who they are and you really don't want to be confronted.

Opportunist – This is your break. This is where they say anything that sounds like a buying signal no matter how remote.

Deal Maker – This is the level where you make all kinds of promises, get on your knees and beg for the order. You strip out any GP you had in the deal and promise that you can move the moon if they just will sign the order today!

Deliverer of the Promise – This is the second place most reps fall down. They fall for your persistence and now they believe all of your lies, I mean promises. This is where the rubber meets the road for most people. Do you do the work and become believable or do you just give up cash the check and walk on down the road to the next sucker.

Consultant – Ok you have passed the initial test now they call you for what tie to wear but you still haven't signed the "ultimate deal."

Trusted Advisor – At this level you are called in for every major decision. Now you just have to live long enough to see the big deal come through. If you walk through these levels with everyone you increase your change on standing next to the next big winner.

Personal Friend – This is the fringe benefit of being accountable for your words and living by the "code."

Most of our time is spent in the first 3 to 4 levels. Then only about 20% of our time is at deal maker to deliverer. It is the 1% that stay in the "Trusted Advisor" stage or ever get there. These are the relationships that we all fight over. These are the ones that you call and call and call just hoping that they read your email or return your call.

Remember everyone has someone at all of these levels. Every day that you do NOT call someone is getting closer to being the new "Trusted Advisor." This is a hard position to be de-thrown from so stay the course and make good on everything you say. I was once told: "It is better to over deliver than to over promise." Set the expectations properly and mean and do what you say!

Happy Hunting,

Pirate Mike…

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