This is the ultimate level of establishing a relationship with a client. How do you get there?
My best advice is to be yourself, work hard, be sincere, and be aligned with their vision. Help them to achieve the mission and the vision- and most importantly- be part of achieving the outcome!
I recently contacted a prior client in the UK. I found myself planning a trip there, due a new client engagement. I reached out to my prior client, which we will call NalCom, via email. I had not had contact with NalCom, since leaving my prior company two years earlier. I reached out to two of my main contacts, via email to see if they were going to be around as I would welcome gathering on one of my free evenings. Within minutes I heard back with a “yes- let’s do dinner”. We planned it 30 days in advance. I had little contact with this former client over the past two years, so to be welcomed with open arms made me smile – I grew excited to see them both again.
Upon reaching the UK, I got a text from one of them, wondering my plans were for the Sunday of my arrival. I ended up spending the Sunday tooling around London. We hit Tate Museum, St. Paul Cathedral, and Shakespeare’s Globe theatre. After the day was over, I sat in retrospect, happy that had I re-established contact with this former client, but realizing the business relationship that we once had, was one built on trust and mutual respect.
My past two years had been so busy changing companies and changing roles that I had not had time to look back and realize all that I had accomplished with this client. I truly had achieved the Trusted Advisor relationship. A relationship that so many of us desire to have with our clients in the sales profession. For four years, I sat inside the client’s doors as a sales coach and trainer. I certified their sales leaders as sales coaches. The client’s headquarters were based in India – an 11+ hour time difference. Often, I worked early morning hours or late-night hours just to be accessible for their workday. After 4.5 years, I became one of them.
The Trusted Advisor status was a result of being in the trenches with NalCom, helping to build their sales enablement infrastructure, and coaching leaders to sales success. More importantly, I now realize that by having been aligned with the Chief Sales Officer and helping him to accomplish his vision and mission, I was earning the Trusted Advisor badge. I was part of building his organization.
Now, years later, I can see the evidence of his tidal wave of success at NalCom. I am humbled to have been part of it. I was fortunate to be part of his vision and his ultimate trajectory of success.
My lesson learned and passed on to you as a reader – in order to achieve the Trusted Advisor status, be part of building the vision, work hard, be yourself, and become part of your client’s organization and culture! You will reap the rewards on many levels. I now have a great friendship across the Atlantic!