Sales are different than they used to be. We all remember when we used to lug around projectors and touchpanels to wow clients with the possibility of a smart room. Some of you may even remember the days of picking up overhead projectors and servicing them in the summer. But times changed. A lot.
Spending time with our customers has grown more difficult. Long lunch meetings, day-long golf outings and even client dinners have changed. Some of that still happens, of course, but it can be difficult to lift our heads from our mobile devices long enough to actually spend time with the people we’re with. It can be even harder to sift through the mountains of email, social media content and other information being thrown our way.
But just because times—and sales—are changing doesn’t mean that integrators can’t change along with them.
It all goes back to being our clients’ trusted advisers. This isn’t a new idea. But a world with so much information and many distractions gives us even more of an opportunity to become a trusted adviser. It will take work, but I’ve boiled down our role as trusted advisers to these four factors.
- Factor #1: Industry Knowledge: What I’m talking about here is knowledge of the customer’s industry. We all proclaim to be “business partners,” but if we don’t understand our clients’ businesses and industries, how can we truly help them? Make sure you take the time to learn about your clients and their industries. When you come in touting ideas and solutions, you can then contextualize them in a way that truly benefits the client.
- Factor #2: Solutions Knowledge: It’s more important than ever that we truly understand what we as integrators are actually capable of. The technology we sell is changing so rapidly that we can get caught up in the change, becoming a little too unaware of what is possible (and what isn’t!). This isn’t to say that you can’t go back and learn once you better understand the client, but knowing how these solutions will work in their environment is key to building trust and then keeping it, especially with IT and AV convergence taking place.
- Factor #3: Creativity: You will see clients coming to you with a solid idea about what they are looking for. In the old days, we could basically tell the customer what they needed. Today, clients are coming to us saying, “We read about this or heard about that.” As trusted advisers, we need to help them take their knowledge and evolve it to meet their business needs.
- Factor #4: Availability: Perhaps the most underrated (but important) trait of the trusted adviser is availability. People seek quick information and response. Although being available 24/7 isn’t reasonable, providing your important customers with a quick response is more than possible. People love to feel like they are a priority, and this is something that is easier than ever to do, given all the ways we’re connected.
Trusted Advisers = Business Partners! Now, more than ever, is the time to align closer and become more integrated with your clients. Even though the methods have changed and it may be more difficult to save your large accounts based solely on entertainment and common interests, it’s entirely possible to connect and build relationships that matter.
Take the time, learn your solutions, invest in knowing your customers’ businesses, and then get creative in helping solve the biggest business problems they have.
Perhaps the biggest key to becoming your clients’ trusted adviser is making sure they know, without question, that your goal is to truly help them solve their business problems. Although that sounds simple enough, ask yourself, “Is that something we can do better?”