Becoming a Trusted Advisor

Definition:  Trust: according to the Encarta® World English Dictionary, Noun

     •     Somebody in whom people place confidence or faith


     •     Hopeful reliance on what will happen in the future

     •     To place something in the care of another person

     •     To hope

Definition: Advisor: Noun

     •     Somebody who gives advice (opinions about what actions another should take)

Put the two together and you have three key words:




Which hemisphere of the prospect’s brain makes a decision based on Hope and Faith?  The emotional side, of course. So you must be a master at manipulating the prospect to process primarily on the emotional side of the brain.

Achieving the status of Trusted Advisor is a condition that exists solely in the mind of a prospect.  Therefore one cannot prejudge how quickly or long it will take.  

I achieved this connection with two thirds of an audience of 150 small business owners during a 15 minute chat from the stage and one subsequent 60 minute phone call to each of them.

Before I can share what it takes to become a TA, let’s understand what must happen inside the prospect’s brain.  The Prospect must infer four emotion driven conclusions.

Your Prospect must DISCOVER these four things by the first or second sales encounter:

1.     “I have a big problem.”

2.     “The reason I have a problem is because I haven’t engaged/used this person.”

3.     “The consequences of doing nothing are grave.”

4.     “I cannot live without them.”

When your prospect makes those mental connections, you have achieved TA status.  Because TA status is a condition you must maintain those four connections with every encounter.  That involves the elements of credibility, integrity and reliability which prospects measure by observing your “center”.  Trusted Advisors are never “I-centered”; they’re remarkably Prospect-centered.  One of my core principles reads:  “Always work in the client’s best interest, even in means turning away business.”

How will you know you have achieved TA status?  Here are the five indicators:

1.     Your prospect will open up and tell you things they haven’t told any other potential vendor.

2.     Your prospect will admit they have a problem.

3.     Your prospect will admit they personally are responsible for the problem.

4.     You get your prospect to make decisions much faster than they normally would.

5.     You successfully inspire your prospect to buy your way instead of following their way.

So what does it take to become a TA?

I believe much more than skills alone; it takes a combination of four things:


Bonding: The ability to identify and match your prospect’s style, personality and manner so you instantly separate yourself from anyone they have ever met.  All within 30 seconds.

Questioning: The skill set of asking the right questions, in the right sequence, the right way.  These are all DISCOVERY questions that will make the prospect think in ways they never have about their problems.

Business Acumen: You have to know enough about business to ask “consequence if they don’t fix it” type questions that won’t sound stupid.

Process: Taking control of the Buyer/Seller “dance” in a way that makes the prospect feel they are in control.

Strengths: Elimination of all of a salesperson’s fears. e.g. Fear of Rejection, Fear of Looking Bad, Fear of Failure, Fear of Asking Tough Questions, Fear of Upsetting the Prospect, Fear of Confrontation, Fear of Challenging Convention.  Also, salespeople must be strong enough to remain emotional detached from the selling event.

Persona: These combine to create the Persona (Identity or Role one adopts) of the Trusted Advisor.  Think of the Persona of a remarkably skilled surgeon reviewing your upcoming surgery.  Or consider the seasoned litigator preparing you for trial.  Or watch a masterful Psychotherapist handling an addict’s intervention.  Or, listen to the NASA flight controller prepping the shuttle for launch. They all have adopted the Persona of Trusted Advisor, thus being “perceived” as such in the mind of those they serve.