It’s Not All about You. And 5 Other Tips on How to Be the Ultimate Trusted Advisor.
Contributors: Scott Schell
When it comes to your customers, the solutions you sell may get your foot in the door, but let’s face it, it’s the relationships you build that elevate your business to “trusted advisor” status, which will lead to increases in retention and revenue over the long haul.
So how do you earn that trust and a reputation as more than just a technology provider?
Creating a Customer Value Exchange is an often-overlooked strategy for companies to grow customer satisfaction and achieve that “trusted advisor” status.
What is a customer value exchange? It’s a one-on-one meeting that starts with listening: It’s your chance to ask your customers to let you in on the state of their business—their goals, objectives, challenges and more. This is not the place to drill down on logistical issues, support tickets or other tactical details. Instead, it’s an opportunity to understand customer’s higher-level plans and the roadblocks they face, and how you and your team might play a role in addressing them.
By keeping the discussion at a strategic level, you can position yourself as a valuable resource—a business ally with the knowledge and expertise to help customers achieve their desired business outcomes. If a value exchange isn’t yet a part of your strategy, take a look at these six tips for getting the most out of your customer conversations:
- Proactive planning: A customer value exchange allows you to discover previously unknown customer roadmap plans. For example, if the customer is adding to its product offerings or expanding into new markets, your discussion is the ideal time to review the associated IT service or support revenue implications—including factors which the customer may not have yet considered or fully fleshed out. By being a part of forward-looking strategic planning discussions, you can help them proactively prepare for these business changes in order to achieve success. The key is getting in on these plans early, and that’s what regularly scheduled discussions will allow you to do.
- Raise your profile: In focusing on strategic plans, the customer value exchange will inevitably expose you to other more senior leaders within the customer organization. This presents an important opportunity to forge new alliances, and deepen or expand your understanding of your customer’s needs.
- Be consultative: Exposure to the organization’s broad base of challenges gives you insight into the solutions that you can offer – not just to support customer’s needs today, but also over the long term as they work toward specific goals. What may be the best short-term IT solution may not be the right one for achieving goals over a longer period of time. In this way your strategic advice can have a powerful impact.
- Talk trends: Your discussion with the customer should not be about self-serving sales pitches, new offerings or flashy demos. Instead, it’s a time to discuss the business challenges that are impacting your customers in the markets they serve. Whether they target local, regional or global customers, or operate in specific vertical industries or the SMB market, this is your opportunity to help them assess the top trends as well as the associated technology solutions that can give them a competitive edge.
- Hits and misses: The customer value exchange is also an ideal time to bring up any lessons learned since your last conversation together. Come prepared with a report (an executive-level summary should be sufficient) to demonstrate IT and ticketing trends within the customer’s own business. Be ready to discuss—at a high level—what’s working well, what you might need to adjust, and the best practices that other clients are using that are making a difference.
- It’s not all about you: During your discussion, take an outlook that some of the meeting issues may not fuel growth for your business at all. That’s quite OK, because the customer will recognize that you’re taking a selfless approach, and that means they will be more open to your advice and to placing increased trust in your partnership in the future.
Be proactive about having regular, consistent and valuable conversations with your customers. Sending meeting reminders and potential agenda topics in advance will keep you both on track. After a few of them go well, these discussions will become value-added, can’t miss meetings that your customers will prioritize.
Want to learn more about creating a customer value exchange?
Creating a Customer Value Exchange
Tuesday, April 26 at 2 pm Eastern Time