If you are a business that serves other businesses (B2B), someone’s vendor, for example, then you are always in danger of being replaced. As you know, every company, including yours, constantly examines its budget and reviews expenses for the year. CEOs are always demanding that their leaders find ways to trim their costs and improve their bottom line. Therefore, you and your company are either: 1) a line item on the P&L that can be outsourced to the lowest bidder, or 2) a non-negotiable partner, about whom a key decision-maker will say, “I don’t care what we have spent with them; it doesn’t come close to the value we get in return. We are not switching. They are a true business partner.”
There’s a business metaphor about a CEO under attack. The CEO has a foxhole to retreat to, but he can only bring three vendors, business partners, into it with him. He must choose the three he couldn’t afford to lose if he had to start all over tomorrow. He doesn’t care about the rest. He knows he can replace those easily, probably more cheaply. When it comes to your clients, you need to ask yourself, would you be in the CEO’s foxhole? Do you have such an amazing business relationship that they can’t fathom doing business without you and your company?
How do you become a non-negotiable partner? I don’t care what you sell; there are dozens of companies that sell the same thing. The way to stand out is to know your clients’ business challenges and industry better than they do. You need to understand what is keeping them up at night. You need to provide so much value that anytime they need to make an important decision, they think of you, even if what they are looking for is outside your area of expertise. They need to have the confidence that you will know someone who will know the answer. You need to be their most trusted advisor.
Charles Penzone is a longtime friend and owner of one of the most successful salon operations in the United States. I will never forget something shocking he once said to me: “I hope I die before my banker does.” He went on to say, “It isn’t just his advice and expertise. I never make a decision without consulting with him first. If I were thinking about painting the walls of my office a different color, he’d be the first person I would ask. I am pretty sure he doesn’t know a thing about paint, but I know he will find out who does. When he found out I was looking for a new accountant, he introduced me to the three best accountants in the city. I hired an excellent receptionist he recommended. I cannot fathom life without him.” The way Chuck talked about his banker means that banker is definitely in Chuck’s foxhole, and it made me want to find some key professionals in my stable of vendors that I could feel similarly about.
Trusted advisors or consultants are resource brokers. They understand the power of relationship building and making the right connections and introductions. They know how to uncover what their client needs even when their client doesn’t know them yet.
Being a trusted advisor means demonstrating that no one cares about your customer’s business like you do. You earn business by being generous with your knowledge and resources without asking for anything in return. Your clients will never share their problems with you until they trust you. As billionaire Mark Cuban says, “The best salesperson is the one the customer trusts and never has to question.”
“My goal is to make my client look like a hero to his organization and customers.”
Here are a few specific guidelines for becoming a client’s most trusted advisor:
- Love what you do. People can’t fake passion. Passionate professionals are magnets, and customers love to buy from people who have an incredible amount of positive energy for what they do and whom they do it for.
- Get to know your customer not only professionally but also personally. Know their FORD by making an emotional connection with them that eventually builds into an unbreakable relationship.
- Be more committed to the success of your customer than they are. That may mean you refer them to someone else and lose the sale.
- Don’t share how you can help them until you have completely understood what their goals and problems are. In any conversation, the client should talk at least 80 percent of the time.
- Make sure your clients never meet anyone smarter than you at what you do. Read every book and relevant article on your subject. Your learning never stops.
- Be honest and transparent. You are the expert, and it is your responsibility to advise your client to do what is in their best interest, even when that may go against what they think they want.
- Go ugly early—share bad news as soon as you can.
- Be a resource broker. Make the right connections and introductions.
Scott McKain Speaking at the 2021 Customer Service Revolution
We are so thrilled to announce that Scott McKain will be speaking at this year’s Customer Service Revolution. Scott McKain is an internationally known distinction expert, bestselling author and iconic keynote speaker. Scott is a distinguished member the Professional Speakers Hall of Fame. Scott has over three decades of research and experience and has spoken and consulted for the world’s most influential corporations, presenting his business strategies on platforms in all fifty states and twenty-two countries. The title of Scott’s presentation is The Ultimate Customer Experience®: Delivering What Customers REALLY Want.
PODCAST Episode 044: Zero Risk: Anticipating Your Service Defects and Having Protocols in Place to Make It Right
Chief Revolution Officer John DiJulius of The DiJulius Group talks with Dave Murray, Senior Customer Experience Consultant for The DiJulius Group. John and Murray talk about how to build a Zero Risk Organization.
You will learn:
- What it means for an organization to be Zero Risk
- How easy are you to do business with?
- How to determine the most common places your company drops the ball
- How to create systems and processes to prevent those from happening
- How to build service recovery processes for your employees to handle when they do happen
- How you can turn a customer who had something bad happen to them into a customer for life
- How being Zero Risk dramatically increases employee morale
Register for the 2021 Customer Service Revolution Oct 5-6, Cleveland Ohio
We are offering both in-person and virtual options for the two-day 2021 Customer Service Revolution. For the ultimate experience and peace of mind of our in-person attendees, we will take every safety precaution. As a result, we will be limiting the number of in-person tickets that we can sell. Our virtual tickets will also provide access to every speaker that the in-person event will.
Your future success will be around the customer experience strategy and the percent of customers you create that cannot live without your company.