Discover How To Win C-Suite Clients Without Selling

What do you really need to become a trusted advisor? Think of these as the guiding principles for your career.

(3 minute read)

Trust plays such a huge role in the relationship between advisor and client. Without it, you will always struggle to have an impact on what your client does. They won’t trust the advice you give, which means they’re unlikely to take action on it.

And of course, the blame still ends up on your shoulders if things don’t work out.

You need to evolve from an advisor to a trusted advisor. But to do this, you need to adpt the traits CEOs look for in the people who advise them.

The following are eight of the most important.

Trait #1 – Cognitive Empathy

A great advisor places themselves in the shoes of their client. They aim to not only understand the client’s perspective but also the effects that this thinking has on them.

The goal here is to create a complete understanding of the way that the client’s mind works.

This is so important in the process of building trust. If a client doesn’t believe that you understand where they’re coming from, they won’t confide in you. Instead, they may see you as just another person who “doesn’t fully understand”.

Show that you both understand and care about the client’s perspective for them to become more receptive to your advice.

Trait #2 – Great Listening Skills

Have you ever engaged in a conversation with somebody who kept interrupting you? They’re so keen to provide you with advice that they don’t even let you discuss the problem in any sort of depth.

It’s a frustrating experience that shows you that the other person doesn’t value what you have to say.

A trusted advisor is one who knows when to keep quiet and listen. Giving your client the chance to talk creates trust because it shows that you care about what they have to say. It’s also vital for you in terms of learning about the symptoms and root causes of the challenges that they face.

Trait #3 – A Deep Understanding of the Client’s Core Challenges

In many cases, a client will come to you presenting symptoms as problems.

For example, a symptom may be that they’re executive team meetings might not be effective. But the problem lies much deeper. Perhaps it is due to lack of communication and this might be caused by a range of issues from team members be reluctant to tell their truth or because of political turf wars within the team.

A trusted advisor has a deeper understanding of the clients’ problems than the clients themselves may have. When they present you with an issue, you must be able to look beyond it to the actual cause of that issue.

Trait #4 – Transparency with the Client (But Confidentiality with What the Client Tells Them)

Have you ever just had a sense that a person you’re talking to isn’t trustworthy?

Often, this feeling arises when you feel the person isn’t authentic. You’re listening to what they say and get the feeling that they’re hiding something from you.

You’re on shaky ground if your client has that feeling about you.

Be completely transparent in all of your dealings with a client. Give them your honest opinion upfront and don’t try to hide anything. The client will reward you with transparency from their end.

And that brings us to the second aspect of this trait.

When a client tells you something, they’re trusting you with information that they won’t give to anybody else. A betrayal of this trust will destroy the relationship. Always remember that you must hold whatever a client tells you in the strictest confidence.

Trait #5 – Ability to Deliver on Promises

As a trusted advisor, you’re essentially making a promise to your client.

“Confide in me, talk to me about your challenges, and I will find a way to help you solve them.”

Often they are looking to you to help them overcome challenges and start moving the needle within their business. Those are the promises that you must deliver on.

Any failure on your part will likely cause the client to question your skills and credibility. When that happens, their trust in you seeps away and the client will soon stop following your advice.

Trait #6 – Excellent Communication Skills

We spoke earlier about the importance of being a good listener. However, that’s just one side of the communication coin.

The flipside is the ability to communicate your own ideas and intentions clearly and concisely.

Essentially, you must have the ability to cut through uncertainty and craft clear points when you talk. A great communicator does not attempt to confuse their client with jargon. They’re candid and clear in how they communicate.

Trait #7 – Adaptability

This may be the most important trait of all, given changing circumstances.

Many of your clients are dealing with upheaval and uncertainty in their businesses right now. They need you, as an advisor, to provide an outside perspective on how they could adapt. But as importantly, they need you to provide that viewpoint in the context of their organisation.

Adaptability extends beyond your ability to react to different situations. It also means that you’re able to adapt to how a business operates so you can work within those parameters to affect change.

Follow These Guiding Principles of Being a Trusted Advisor

Perhaps you’re reading this and feel like you don’t possess all these traits.

That’s fine.

The important thing about each of these traits is that you can learn them. You can put time and effort into developing each one.

And now, you understand what your clients look for in a trusted advisor.

This means you’re in the perfect place to take action and begin working on yourself.

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