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Coaching Your Sales Team to Become Trusted Advisors: A Comprehensive Guide

Updated: Mar 5

Can your sales team become Trusted Advisors? What does it take to become one? As a sales manager, how can you coach them successfully?

The term Trusted Advisor has become increasingly prevalent as businesses shift towards a more relationship-driven approach to serving their customers.

A Trusted Advisor is a salesperson who goes beyond pushing products and services. They comprehend the specific needs, interests, and goals of their clients. Trusted Advisors utilize this understanding to offer tailored, thoughtful solutions that align with the customer's core business objectives, thereby fostering long-term relationships built on trust and mutual benefit.

A hand holding a cardboard that reads Trust to represent Coaching Your Sales Team to Become Trusted Advisors A Comprehensive Guide

Table of Contents:


Why Coaching Your Sales Team to Become Trusted Advisors Drives Growth

The implementation of Trusted Advisors within your sales team can unlock massive potential, transforming the way you approach sales and facilitating an environment where your customers feel valued and understood.

This relationship-centric approach to sales not only benefits customers, but also contributes significantly to the success of your sales team. The benefits include:

Increased Customer Loyalty

In an age where customer loyalty is hard won and easily lost, developing your salespeople into Trusted Advisors can be a game-changer. It's the key to earning Sales Equity. When customers feel understood and valued, they are more likely to stick with your brand over time, providing a steady stream of recurring revenue.

Higher Sales Performance

Trusted Advisors do not merely aim to make a sale; they seek to solve a problem or fulfill a need. This customer-centric approach opens more opportunities for clients to trust their advisors. When relationships built on trust are developed, customers often seek further solutions beyond their initial transaction.

Better Team Morale and Retention

When your sales team shifts from transaction-based selling to relationship-based selling, it creates more job satisfaction. Salespeople take pride in their work and feel more fulfilled knowing they're providing solutions that genuinely help their customers, improving overall morale and retention.

Now you know why coaching your sales team to be trusted advisors can drive growth for your business. Next, we answer what critical skills are needed to become trusted advisors and how can you foster these as a leader.

What Critical Skills Should Your Salespeople Have to Become Trusted Advisors?

As a team leader, you can help your sales team transition from transactional sellers to trusted advisors who add value, build lasting relationships, and drive mutual success with their clients. Here are five (5) critical skills you should focus on developing:

1. Effective Communication Skills

Undoubtedly, effective communication forms the foundation of becoming a Trusted Advisor. In the digital world, these should also translate to online consultations, webinars, or digital meetings. Some skills you can foster in your workplace include:

Developing Active Listening Skills

Coaching your team to listen actively to their clients allows them to better understand their clients' needs and wants. A Trusted Advisor will have better insights and recommendations when they pay attention to details presented by their clients.

Giving Constructive Feedback

Likewise, being able to provide constructive feedback suggests that a Trusted Advisor is reliable and trustworthy. Some business matters may be uncomfortable to bring up during client meetings but are critical in promoting transparency and honesty. A professional who has this critical skill will be able to mediate and provide solutions competently.

Training on non-verbal communication

Body language, tone of voice, and facial expressions can significantly impact how a message is received. Providing your team with training on how to carry themselves more confidently and professionally.

Encouragement of assertive communication

Assertive communication is the balance between being too aggressive and too passive. It requires respect for others while standing up for oneself. Training to become assertive when it matters allows an advisor to negotiate effectively and manage difficult conversations.

2. Ability to Build Rapport and Trust

Building a relationship of trust with clients is at the heart of a Trusted Advisor's role. Clients need to know they can depend on your team and may leave decision-making at the hands of their advisors, trusting their needs are understood. The key ingredients are:

Honesty and Transparency

Trusted Advisors should be honest and transparent throughout their interactions with clients. Expectations should be set realistically, and any potential issues should not be overlooked or downplayed.

Client Needs Assessment

By asking thoughtful, insightful questions, salespeople can gain a deep understanding of their clients' needs and expectations. This knowledge not only helps in presenting suitable services or solutions but also builds trust through strong perceived empathy.

Consistent and Proactive Communication

Maintaining regular follow-ups and keeping clients updated on campaigns builds trust over time. Nothing cements relationships quite like the impression that a salesperson genuinely cares about a client's welfare and success.

There are foundational pillars that shape client perceptions. Learn more about The 6 Dimensions of a Trusted Advisor

3. Encouraging Problem-Solving Skills

This aspect demonstrates the adaptability of a Trusted Advisor. They have to navigate complex situations effectively and offer clients innovative solutions to overcome challenges.

Trusted advisors who excel in problem-solving foster confidence and credibility, establishing themselves as reliable partners capable of guiding clients toward success. Sales teams can show this in two ways:

Proactive Approach to Handling Problems

Encouraging the sales team to anticipate potential issues and presenting potential solutions is an effective way to establish their credibility as Trusted Advisors.

Solution-focused Mindset

Salespeople trained to maintain a solution-focused attitude while facing challenging situations can promptly resolve issues. It shows customers their commitment, thereby building trust and confidence.

4. Enhancing Product Knowledge

Salespeople should have a thorough understanding of the products or services they are selling. This includes knowing features, benefits, use cases, and potential limitations to communicate value to clients effectively. Deep knowledge about the product is fundamental for providing efficient service. This includes:

Regular Product Training

Regular training sessions on the product's features and benefits will ensure that your sales team is competent and confident in selling your product. Clients trust a Trusted Advisor who understands the nooks and crannies of the product or service they’re selling.

Tailored Product Pitches

Every customer has unique needs. Ensuring your sales team understands various potential uses of your product for specific clients can help them pitch it effectively to satisfy these diverse needs. Tailored pitches resonate more with clients and increase the likelihood of capturing interest and driving successful sales.

“A sale is not something you pursue; it's what happens to you while you are immersed in serving your customer.”

5. Strategic Thinking

As a mentor, encourage your salespeople to think strategically about their clients' objectives. When clients ask for recommendations, a Trusted Advisor should be able to help them:

Identify Opportunities for Growth

This entails recognizing areas where clients can expand their business, innovate, or optimize processes to achieve their objectives more effectively.

Mitigate Risks

By proactively identifying potential threats or challenges that could impede clients' success, your team can get ahead of the problem. It becomes easier to develop strategies that minimize or address risks.

Align Solutions

Ensuring that the recommendations and actions proposed by Trusted Advisors are closely aligned with clients' strategic goals, values, and long-term objectives results in success and sustainability.

What Challenges Do Sales Managers Face When Transitioning?

Coaching a team to adopt the Trusted Advisor approach isn’t all roses, so it helps to know that there will be thorns. These are the challenges you might face as a leader:

Time and Resources

It may require considerable investment in training and mentorship, which aren’t always immediately profitable.

Resistance to Change

Salespeople might resist changing their traditional sales approach, feeling the new strategy too time-consuming or unfamiliar.

Variability in skill sets

Not all salespeople might have the necessary communication and problem-solving skills at first.

Despite these challenges, with dedicated support and resources, it is possible to guide your team towards becoming Trusted Advisors. Utilize product training, masterclasses, and even quick 1 on 1 with your members so you can guide them on this journey.

Key Tips for Successfully Coaching Your Sales Teams

The first step is to become a role model. As the leader, your capabilities and skills will be their basis of standard. Here’s how you can successfully coach your team to become Trusted Advisors:

Continual Coaching and Monitoring

Regular coaching sessions and constant performance monitoring can help reinforce the Trusted Advisor approach.

Recognition and Incentives

Recognizing and rewarding salespeople who successfully apply the Trusted Advisor approach can motivate further engagement.

Providing Skills Training

Continuously upskilling empowers your team to effectively navigate diverse client needs and develop creative solutions. Sales training that focuses on real-life scenarios, role-play exercises, and case studies provides practical exposure to handling various situations.

Performing Client Relationship Assessment

Sales managers are responsible for team management, as well as client relationship management. Regularly evaluating client satisfaction, engagement levels, and any areas of concern, you can identify opportunities for improvement and take proactive steps to address issues.

Client relationship assessments enable you to gather valuable feedback that can inform strategic decisions and guide the ongoing development of your sales team's approach to client management.

Trusted Advisors for Business Growth

We cannot stress enough how coaching salespeople to become Trusted Advisors will not only drive growth for them, but to you and your client’s businesses as well. Nurturing Trusted Advisors cultivates increased customer loyalty, drives higher sales performance, and enhances team morale and retention.

At Encompass-CX, we help you measure insights that matter, deliver genuine value to clients, and foster long-term B2B relationships. We work with sales teams to gather customer relationship feedback data and help salespeople shift from transactional selling to a relationship-centric approach, as a Trusted Advisor.

While the transition might be initially challenging, remember that the benefits of establishing your sales team as Trusted Advisors are worth it - for your team, your customers, and ultimately your business.

Have You Started the Transition?

Share your own experiences of transitioning your sales team to become Trusted Advisors – the challenges, successes, and lessons learned. We’d love to hear your story!

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