Are you a salesperson, a consultant, or a trusted advisor?

Are you a salesperson, a consultant, or a trusted advisor?

Written By Jeffrey Gitomer

KING OF SALES, The author of seventeen best-selling books including The Sales Bible, The Little Red Book of Selling, and The Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude. His live coaching program, Sales Mastery, is available at


Are you a salesperson, a consultant, or a trusted advisor?

When I say “trusted advisor,” what words come to mind?
Helpful advice?
Strategic alliance?

DEEP THOUGHTS: Do you believe you are a trusted advisor? Do your customers perceive you as a trusted advisor?

Before you begin this lesson, take a moment to list your current accounts in which you feel you’re a trusted advisor. List the people who rely on you, and your trusted advisor status. How many are there?

When you complete this list, the first thing to do is compare it with your entire customer base. Are you a trusted advisor to more than 20% of your customer base? Take heart, most salespeople and managers are less than 10%.

And let me clarify before we get too deep into this concept — trusted, and trusted advisor are not the same — not even close. The status of being trusted is one small part of being or becoming a trusted advisor.

CONSIDER THIS: If you work for a great company, they are trusted. If your products are GREAT, they are trusted. The only variable is YOU.

Do you believe that you are a trusted advisor by your customers? I hope you do. But a bigger question is: What do your customers believe?

It’s not what YOU think you are. Rather, it’s where does the customer place you in his or her mind? How do they see you? How do they regard you? How do they refer to you? How do they talk about you? How much do they respect you? And how much do they trust you?

Here are the levels of competence you can rise to as a salesperson:
Strategic advisor
Trusted advisor
Trusted advisor and resource

NOTE WELL: These are NOT titles. They’re roles you play, and positions you are regarded as by the customer. If your card says “consultant,” that doesn’t mean you are one. The proof of title is that the customer PERCEIVES you as one.

The customer’s perception of you is your reality.

The biggest questions to ask yourself are what am I doing to ensure my status of trusted advisor in the mind of the customer? and what can I do to improve my relationship to earn and keep the status?

These elements also beg the question: Am I doing my BEST for ALL my customers, ALL the time?

Understand that becoming a trusted advisor is much more than just having a great relationship. Trusting is just the beginning.

What are the elements of a trusted advisor? CAUTION: These elements are as tough to achieve, as they are strategic to your success.
Trusted advisors are value providers, not suppliers or vendors.
Trusted advisors concentrate on business building — not just business seeking — on behalf of the customer.
Trusted advisors considered friends by their customers.
Trusted advisors are liked, believed, respected, and trusted.
Trusted advisors are valuable information providers.
Trusted advisors are able to combine trust and valuable information.
Trusted advisors understanding the situation their customers are in, and they’re willing to risk being right.
Trusted advisors are empowered by their customers to act, and they’re willing to take action.
Trusted advisors help customers profit, not just save money.
Trusted advisors figure out a way to get more face time.
Trusted advisors make decisions based on the relationship, not the quarter, or the quota.
Trusted advisors are always invited in.

A trusted advisor displays professionalism, friendliness, competence, product knowledge, and expertise. Not just an expert, but also an expert communicator.

REALITY: Those elements are GIVEN — they are the basics that qualify you for the status of trusted advisor.

To earn the status, these basics must be COMBINED with your knowledge of the customer, the customer’s business, and how they use, produce, benefit from, and profit from your products and services.

Trusted advisors keep competitors at bay. And they bridge the gap between a satisfied customer to a loyal customer.

MAJOR CLUE: The customer must PERCEIVE that you have these qualifications, or you will allow your competition to get in the door and establish some sort of position.

Remember the list I asked you to make at the beginning of this lesson, but you probably didn’t? For those few of you that did, I wonder if you still have the same people on the list? And for those of you who did not make a list — I venture to say that after this information, I dare say there are fewer people in the “they consider me a trusted advisor list” than you were thinking.

Well, if you’re a bit shaky right about now, let me assure you, if you invest the next few months doing things for your customer, you’ll get a clearer idea of what you must do to establish your position, your relationship, and your reputation.

I have prepared a trusted advisor test. To see where you score, go to, register if you’re a first-time user, and enter the words DROP IN in the GitBit box.