The Channel

What is a Trusted Advisor?

By Peter Radizeski, RAD-INFO Inc.  |  April 25, 2012

This article originally appeared in the April 2012 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY magazine.

We use the term trusted advisor to describe the role that the agent or VAR should play to the owner of a SMB. We make it seem so easy to become this trusted partner about communications and technology to the business owner.

Selling on price is not new. Since the long-distance wars, it has been about saving the customer money. In this recession, savings has been one familiar way to get the owner’s attention.

The trusted advisor has to go beyond that, which means that the opening line shouldn’t be about savings. Why not? It’s like bait-and-switch. I’m going to save you money AND choose the best technology solution for your business. It rarely works that way. As we have seen, VoIP as POTS replacement is a cost savings, but unified communications usually costs more – but it usually does more as well. Do you want TV – or do you want HBO?

Your opening may be about productivity, efficiency, ROI or TCO. In multi-location businesses, a case could be made to save money on efficiency and eliminate a job or two, but that would be a special business case. A story about a similar business and what you did for them – along with a testimonial – would be helpful, and might build trust.

You have to position yourself as the expert (or at least as knowledgeable). One way to do that is with recommendations, referrals, and testimonials. Another way is by asking probing questions that get to the heart of the matter – in this case, communications, technology, apps.

Another way to establish trust is by saying “That’s a good question. I don’t have the answer now, but I will get it and get back to you on Thursday at 10.” It shows that you know your limits. It allows you to prove that you keep your promise by following up at the designated time.

In selling UC or cloud, people have to buy YOU first, then trust the vendor you are proposing. If that vendor isn’t well known, like AT&T, Apple or Google (News - Alert), all the prospect has is your word (and what can be found on Google). Building up that trusted advisor role will be the key to your success.

Edited by Jennifer Russell