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Trusted Advising is Dead...or Is It?

Anthony Iannarino posted a pretty bold statement on LinkedIn yesterday about the role of the trusted advisor. 

You can read it here, but here is the headline:

"As future generations show less interest in sales and existing methods continue to prioritize transactional over consultative selling, the decline of the trusted advisor in B2B sales is likely to continue unless substantial changes are made."

Do you agree?

I do. I sold in the trusted advisor model for a couple of years in Dallas with a successful partner. The owner of the business and my coworkers were all telco channel veterans, and they showed me the value of building a business based on trust through relational, consultative selling. 

Most of our business was through referrals and word of mouth, but we saw the tide of transactional crashing in.

It was getting harder to get the CxO for lunch, mid-level admins were making major buying decisions with most of their research done online, and expectations for adding value were skyrocketing. 

I saw how those relationships did little to protect our revenue when a security breach exited an executive at a top client of ours. The transactional nature of the aftermath of that event sidelined us, and despite sleepless nights and years of relationships at multiple levels of the organization, we had no way around it and lost the business. 

So what is working?

I believe two things can contribute to successful consultative selling - adding value through knowledge, and making the "grunt work" easier. It's the title of this blog site - Marketing is the New Sales.

I don't believe consultative selling is dead, I just think consultative sellers have to better understand and employ core marketing principles. 

I have talked with quite a few B2B sellers this year, and the common thread is that the ones who show promise aren't resigning themselves to losing. They are reinventing the way they build relationships. They are leaning into marketing and digital presence to establish an identity that can open doors. 

The very best are figuring out how to automate, or at least expedite transactional quotes, and then use the data of their customer base and those transactions to expand their selling opportunity. 

I am seeing these sellers build content libraries, and share their decades of insight, while leveraging digital platforms and consultants to build a web presence that drives toward transactions. 

I have worked with salespeople who wouldn't enter an opportunity into a CRM. I have worked with marketers who barely rub shoulders with their customers. These mindsets fail. They lead to short-sighted tactics that don't drive sustainable business growth. 

Trusted advising isn't dying, it's evolving.