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Moving from Trusted Advisor to Trusted Partner Relationships Part 1

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Executive Summary.

  1. Transforming client relationships, why it’s important.
  2. Who owns the client?
  3. The first five steps to attaining trusted partner status.

Transforming Your Client Relationships

In a recent article I addressed the topic of why developing a relationship based on trust is so important, all the more so in the B2B space. But it’s a whole lot more important than one may think. Reason being that developing a relationship based on trusted advisor status is all well and good if you are the only person dealing with a client.

Who owns the client?

That in today’s sophisticated market is not the case. More often than not there are many people who interact with a client, thereby necessitating the need to build many multilevel relationships, hence moving to the trusted partner scenario. This is important as the sales or relationship function alone don’t own the relationship, they may manage the relationship, but as the diagram below shows, everyone ‘owns’ the relationship, hence the trusted partner approach.



Achieving Trusted Partner Status

I’m going to express these strategies as a series of shifts required to move you from Trusted Advisor to Trusted Partner status. In this issue, let’s start with the first five, which must be driven mainly by the individual relationship manager. My next article will focus on the next five.

From agenda reacting to agenda setting.

When you react to the client’s agenda, you wait for the order. When you become an agenda setter, you invest to develop a deep understanding of their business, and you proactively engage them in value-added conversations about their most essential priorities and goals.

From networking to building relationship capital.

Networking is about the many—about adding new people to your contact list, and superficially staying in touch with hundreds of people. Building relationship capital means focusing on the critical few—the 15 or 20 key relationships that can truly make a difference—and truly nurturing these.

From selling to executive engagement.

Selling means following a five-step process, handling objections, and trying to close. Executive engagement is about engaging a senior decision maker in a thoughtful dialogue about his or her critical issues, and building trust in your capacity to address them.

From individual to institutional relationships.

Trusted partnerships are built on multiple trusted advisor relationships—what I call many-to-many relationships—and they require the relationship manager to be a door-opener—not a gate-keeper.

From core value to multiple layers of value.

You must deliver what you promise. But in trusted client partnerships, the advisor does more: He or she adds institutional value and personal value; tangible value and intangible value; expected value and surprise value. See diagram below.



Reference: This article draws on information from All for One, 2009.

Andrew Clare is Managing Partner of reLiance a business to business relationship marketing practice. We focus on improving client profitability through developing, implementing and measuring sustainable, collaborative business to business relationships.  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it www.rassa.co.za www.linkedin.com/in/andrewclare


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