There’s a highly coveted title in the business world: a Trusted Advisor. It seems just about everyone wants to be considered one, and plenty of people call themselves who really haven’t earned the distinction.
Because really, it’s a term that doesn’t have a whole lot of clarity about what it actually means, and so people sometimes underestimate what it really takes to become a true trusted adviser in their accounts. There are tons of examples of times when the term has been applied maybe a little too loosely, but when you get down to it, a trusted advisor needs to have two things: trust and advice.
But there is also another way to look at this: What is the view of a trusted adviser from the prospect side? What does the senior executive at a prospect account that you're calling on want from a trusted advisor? And what will it take for them to take on a trusted adviser - someone like you?
Selling to the C-Suite by Nicholas Read and Stephen Bistritz shares some interesting insights from speaking to senior executives at medium to large companies. Essentially, in order to become a trusted advisor in any industry including cybersecurity sales, you begin by focusing on the value of your personal relationship with the executive - understand the executive as a person first and then recognize the executive’s broad vision for their business.
As a trusted advisor, you use those two pools of understanding to advise on common roadblocks to expect and how to avoid them, best practices and relationship-building within the executives’ inner circle, providing insight beyond that which the executive is already tapped into. Executives look for trusted advisors who have prior experience in helping solve similar problems for other businesses at a very high level.
Essentially, a trusted advisor should foresee and identify business problems and also develop realistic solutions to solve them. Trusted advisors should bring inherent value by nature of experience and industry wisdom, having a wide network of relationships in the business world. They have a footprint and living proof of their know-how in cybersecurity sales.
That all leads us to five key points about being a trusted advisor.
The first is about comfort and earned confidence. When you start operating at that level, you show from day one the value of your interactions and your wider business viewpoint. You need to be comfortable operating on the same level as the executive, far removed and above the majority of salespeople operating on a lower plane.
Secondly, you should know your true value and be able to speak to similar outcomes that you've delivered to similar companies or personas. Know these examples thoroughly and deliver them in an impactful way.
Third, know that really successful salespeople command more than their fair share of the internal resources inside an account. As you get outside the sales org in a company, you draw on the experiences of the people who have been in the industry for a long time that you're selling into. Bringing these people into accounts and having them help advise these senior execs with their viewpoint, is really valuable for these executives that are looking for help to solve specific problems. So commanding more than your fair share of resources is important.
Fourth, make sure to know the company and industry trends at a detailed business level. If you're going to be someone who can work with senior execs and you want to be able to advise them, you have to really take in the wider situation of the company: What are its strengths? Where are the threats coming from? What new things are they moving into? What challenges are on the horizon for cybersecurity? What opportunities? Understanding the cybersecurity sales business at a high level, top-down, will ensure you are relevant.
And last but not least is to have a strong viewpoint, have strong ideas. Be someone who can confidently and competently sit there in front of an executive and present your ideas, your fresh angles, confidently and competently. This will sell your value and make you stand out from the crowd.
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