How to be Perceived As A Trusted Advisor
I developed this list with managing partners from accounting practices in a half-dozen countries while working with them in Atlanta this week. I think it applies to all professional services firms’ principles, and to all entrepreneurs who seek to be a “trusted advisor.” (My thanks to Norman Same of Sydney for setting up this work, which was a result of Rob Nixon asking me to speak for over 500 accounting professionals in that city, my thanks to him, as well. That’s how marketing gravity works!)
How to be perceived as a Trusted Advisor:
• Do pro bono work in the community.
• Publish with third-party endorsement (e.g., business publications).
• Speak at every opportunity when there are influence leaders in the audience.
• Create and maintain an interactive web site.
• Blog, with frequent (e.g. three times+ weekly) provocative issues.
• Conduct breakfast and lunch meetings for networking and discussion.
• Provide free diagnostic products.
• Elicit and publicize testimonials.
• Seek community leadership positions (e.g., planning board).
• Create the proper office environment (privacy, dignity, success).
• Create the proper employee attitudes (courtesy, responsiveness, proaction).
• Create a regular newsletter, hardcopy or electronic.
• Create and promote your brands, and trademark you property.
• Convert intellectual capital (intangible) into intellectual property (tangible).
• Teach locally at a college or university as a guest lecturer.
• Seek professional and trade association leadership positions.
• Create “best practices” from you wealth of experience in your profession.
• Constantly ask happy clients for referrals.
• “Paint others into the picture,” by demonstrating how they can benefit.
If you want to be seen as someone whom important clients can trust and rely on to the degree that fees are not an issue, then you have to walk the talk and talk the walk. How many of these pragmatic actions are you engaged in?
© Alan Weiss 2009. All rights reserved.
Combined a few that were similar (seek leasership positions etc) and came up with the 12 commandments by AW.
I do 6, for what its worth.
A friend of mine who runs a large hedge fund that actually made money through the recession told me of the crazy effect Bernie Madoff has had in the industry.
It seems now people raise their eyebrows at service providers that are too “squeaky clean.” It’s the Madoff Syndrome.
Doesn’t quite apply directly to general business consultants but hedge fund managers are essentially service providers entrusted to improve a client’s condition.
Thanks for curating this blog. I’ve found great value in it since discovering it a couple weeks ago.
Thanks, Allan! (“Hedge Fund Manager” somehow causes me to check to location and safety of my wallet.)
Alan, you could add another.
How about RAK (Random Acts Of Kindness).
Just help your best customer for a day however he wants you to. You learn loads, they appreciate it, and you make a real friend.
And information lines, you know the type that are working for you 24/7 and encourage people to listen to your perfect information pitch.
Or interview celebrity/auhtority figures and host the audio/video on your website and/or do teleconferences for free on lunchtimes..
These are noble and nice efforts, but I’m not sure they add to being a trusted advisor. If you’re the thought leader, why are you interviewing others?
Interviewing others does a number of things that help. Firstly, you demonstrate that you’ve got a mastermind group of people, and they don’t have to be others within the same market i.e. you’re known by the company you keep. Secondly, it shows that you aren’t big headed enough to think that you do know it all and you act as the gatherer of expertise for your clients. Thirdly, these experts endorse you in the interview by saying how great you are. I’ll settle for nice and noble anytime Alan 😉
We’ll agree to disagree about that. I find too many people weaken their brand by introducing others into the equation. Thought leadership is LEADERSHIP, not a panel or committee. People should be interviewing you.
I agree with you on leadership. But one of your points above is create best practise
from your wealth of experience in your profession. If you only look from within your profession you get stale. That’s why thought leadership involves others outside your profession. Heck, I’m probably rambling now as it’s past midnight here in London! All the best from across the big pond.
An essential part of trust is perceived honesty. If, for example, when appropriate, you tell your client what steps they need to take to keep their professional bill down , that can reap serious dividends. Giving practical advice can also help the trust factor. Don’t always wait for your clients to ask for advice, be prepared to make suggestions from time to time which will assist their business — even if you’re not being paid for it. Finally if you do make a mistake, don’t be defensive — own up to it quickly, apologize unreservedly and make sure you sort the problem out immediately. Remarkably this can also help the trust element.
Trust is the honest-to-God belief that you have the other person’s best interests in mind.
You sound like you’re billing by the time unit with that “keeping the professional bill down.” If you want trust, you never bill by a time unit, period. My apologies if I’m inferring more than I should!
I work in the publicity for Portfolio, the business impring of Penguin Group. I would like to send you a copy of Go-Giver’s Sell More by Bob Burg and John David Mann. It’s the follow-up to the best seller The Go-Giver. Please let me know if you’d like a copy and I’ll send one your way. Thanks
Nick, thanks, but no thanks. I appreciate the offer.