Updated: Oct 13
The Six Dimensions of a Trusted Advisor
In today's hyper-competitive market, the landscape is littered with choices. Amongst this cacophony, there are two echoing questions that discerning clients continually ask:
"Are you reliable?"
"Are you able?"
Reliability: The Cornerstone of Integrity
In the world of business, integrity is rarely about being honest or upright, rather it’s about your reliability and dependability. It’s the backbone of every interaction, every transaction, and every handshake. It’s more than a mere promise; it's a commitment. But what makes integrity so essential and truly invaluable?
Consider a time when you embarked on a new partnership. Wasn't it the integrity of the other party that led you to sign on that dotted line? Their business integrity. The unwavering belief that the other side will consistently deliver on their commitments. Your reliability is the currency of trust. Every single time. That's the crux. Business integrity ensures sustainability in B2B relationships.
Imagine you're an account manager for an innovative tech startup. Your client? A well-established finance company hoping to streamline their operations. They're entrusting you, not just with this project, but with their reputation. If you falter, it could unravel years of trust. But when you deliver as promised (or even exceed their expectations) you weave another strand into the fabric of trust. Your integrity guarantees that you'll walk that extra mile to keep their trust intact.
A powerful story that comes to mind is of a sales representative from a paper supply company, who, when faced with a production delay, personally drove hours to deliver the necessary supplies to a client's event, preventing what would have been a PR catastrophe.
That's integrity in action. It wasn’t just about saving a sale; it was about being reliable in a pinch, signaling a clear message: "You can count on me." And about deepening the relationship.
When your client perceives you have integrity, they can relax and not worry about having to manage you.
Ability: The Pillar of Competency
Reliability is an interesting word. Embedded within ‘Reliability’ is the word ‘ability’.
Having integrity – being reliable – isn’t enough. You also have to be competent. You have to convince your client you are ‘able’ to get the job done at a high level. In today’s ever-evolving labyrinth of business, competency isn't static. Clients want to be assured that you have the tools, team, experience, and expertise to excel. It’s not just about will; it’s about skill.
If you're in tech, staying updated with the latest advancements isn't an option; it’s a necessity.
If you're in marketing, leveraging the latest AI tools might just be your lifeline.
If you’re in finance, accuracy 100% of the time should be your standard.
Consider a supplier working with a leading soda company who recognized the early trends of health consciousness among consumers, and worked with their client to innovate, introducing a healthier line of beverages to their channel partners that not only captured market share but also received acclaim. This showcased sheer competency in understanding market dynamics and acting proactively.
Reflect on one of your recent projects. Sure, your client believed you’d deliver, but did they also believe in the quality of that delivery? Take the supplier from our soda company narrative above. It wasn’t just foresight; it was the ability to leverage resources, teams, and trends to help create a groundbreaking product.
Competency asks: do you have the sum of talent, tools, and tenacity for this business relationship to work?
Whereas Integrity asks: does your client believe you are going to do what you say? Does your client believe you can do what you say?
The Competitive Landscape: The Real Deal
Here’s the revelation: While integrity and competency are essential, in this fiercely competitive world, they’re merely the baseline. Think of them as your ticket to the game. You don't earn accolades for merely possessing them; they're expected. Falter in either and the penalties can be severe. It's a high-stakes game where mediocrity can spell disaster.
But if you're looking to not just survive, but thrive, then go beyond. Seek innovation, foster genuine connections, and always—always—look for the next horizon.
Integrity and competency are the floor; your ambition is the ceiling. Aim high.
Putting Integrity and Competency into Practice
Your everyday actions need to showcase your Integrity and Competency. Every step, every gesture, every communication should reinforce "You can trust me!" Some of the ways you can demonstrate this include…
Integrity Best Practices
Competency Best Practices
Act professionally with courtesy and respect.
Communicate often & consistently, in person and otherwise.
Make consistent decisions so your clients know what to expect.
Thoroughly prepare before every interaction.
Document & distribute key decisions and discussions.
Keep up to date with current developments in your – and your client’s – fields.
Respond appropriately to client problems and concerns.
Respond quicker than expected and before the set deadline.
Fully explain the reasoning behind any decision.
Support your views with logic, reason, and data.
In the theater of business, where the stakes are high, there are no rehearsals. Trust isn’t a bonus—it's a requirement. Every act, every scene, every line either builds your legacy or risks it. Never settle for just the ticket to the show; aim for the standing ovation.
Ask yourself: Do you have the Integrity and Competency to be trusted?
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