Don’t Try to Sell, Be a Trusted Advisor

B2B buyers have made dramatic leaps in terms of self-sufficiency.

When a business issue is identified, 60% of buyers prefer to address it independently rather than interacting with reps who are instantly pushing for a sale.

Julia Hubbel, President at The Hubbel Group Inc., readily adapted to the modern buying cycle, and her new selling routine is fairly straightforward: “I don’t sell, I serve.” She is a trusted advisor—a professional that builds and preserves customer relationships by focusing on the client’s ROI, not the sale itself.

The Role of the Trusted Advisor

In Human to Human Selling, Adrian Davis, a renowned sales strategist, points out that every trust-based relationship is two-fold. The first, and perhaps most important element, is trust—which is gradually increased as sellers put their buyers’ best interests first.

“The other aspect is the value that comes from the advisory nature of the relationship,” he notes. Every seller that genuinely guides customers through the critical points in their business cycle and communicates the value of their advice commits to:

  • Understanding the needs (not just the surface wants!) of each buyer
  • Putting client issues into context to provide perspective
  • Providing tailored recommendations to proactively solve client issues

Tim Simmons, Vice President of Member Management at Sam’s Club, acknowledges that building trust and understanding the nuances of the client’s business to demonstrate value are two vitally important factors in the role of a trusted advisor:


“Personally, I don’t like to be sold to. If I feel like I am, I just tune out. To me, selling is all about trust. If you go in and you’re only about selling something, there’s no trust. If someone really gets to know me and has my best interests at heart, then I’m willing to invest in that relationship. And trust is built. Sales reps need to understand customer needs and explore how they can provide legitimate solutions. As a customer, I’d have that conversation every day.”

Earning the right to offer advice is a matter of valuing the buyer-seller relationship more than the transaction—even if that means not closing a deal.

Establish Your Trusted Advisor Status

The shift from sales reps to trusted advisors doesn’t happen instantly.

Cultivating trusted advisor relationships with top-value clients takes time—and valid contact data.

Rely on timely contact information to reach your most coveted clients and get a complete picture of your targets by practicing active listening. After knowing who the customers are and what challenges they face, trusted advisors will always:

  • Help—not sell!—in a truthful and genuine way by recommending products that will solve the customers’ problems
  • Build long-standing relationships to encourage clients to continuously seek out their advice

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