Building relationships to become a Trusted Advisor

Building relationships to become a Trusted Advisor

Guest post provided by Chris Ashworth

“People buy from People” is a sales doctrine which has been around for many years, and despite the growth of online sales to consumers, the role of the individual – the Trusted Advisor – is still important in construction where there is a need for someone to help guide decision makers through such complexities as legislation, sustainability and assured performance leading to product selection. The concept behind the Trusted Advisor is of someone who has a long term relationship with decision makers such as architects, engineers and contractors and is trusted to give them reliable advice.

Using a lead provider service, like Barbour ABI, allows you to identify the key accounts you want to work with. To make the most out the service, develop a strategy of engagement with those key decision makers listed on projects which are of interest to your organisation. These are the organisations – architects, engineers, contractors – who regularly work on the types of projects you have most success with. You should have established relationships with many of these. For those that you don’t, start a process of engagement.

Introduce your specification manager

Firstly, ensure your internal organisation knows who the key accounts are, then if there are requests for technical information or samples these can be used as an opportunity to introduce your specification manager (avoid the word ‘sales’ in a job title).

Deliver a CPD seminar

A great way of starting a relationship is to offer to deliver a CPD seminar (look out for my future article on CPD). This introduces the specification manager and starts the process of building relationships. By delivering an effective CPD seminar the specification manager demonstrates Character and Competence which reinforce the status of Trusted Advisor.

Before presenting a CPD, or attending a meeting, prepare thoroughly. You can learn a lot about an organisation by looking at its website, in particular its culture and aspirations. Barbour ABI will provide plenty of background information. The projects they are currently working on, the other organisations they work with as well as basic company background.

Build a relationship of trust

But becoming a Trusted Advisor is a long process and requires commitment. It starts with a distanced relationship, and only by demonstrating such skills as technical competence, industry knowledge and reliability can it evolve to a position of trust which also involves maximum commitment from both parties to each other. That also means recommending what’s best, if your product is not suitable say so. Although a short term loss, there will be a long term gain, reinforcing the position of Trusted Advisor. Social events and factory visits are also a good opportunity to build the relationship, providing the opportunity to move conversations beyond work.

The specification manager should follow their key account contacts on social media to learn more about them. If over the weekend a prospect has tweeted about an event they attended it’s an ideal subject to discuss when you next meet.

Once you do reach the level of Trusted Advisor with decision makers you can use it to learn more about project status, get introductions to their colleagues and expect to receive calls from them about new projects at an early stage in the process. You have become part of their team.

Further Information
Promoting your company and building products with Barbour Product Search can help to increase your visibility to the full specification audience - not just architects. Email for more information.

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Chris is a specialist in specification strategy and founder of Competitive Advantage Consultancy which specialises in market research and training for the construction industry. He is a member of the BIM4M2 steering group and Deputy Chair of the organising committee for CIMCIG, the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s Construction Industry Group.

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