John Guido | January 12, 2022
Becoming a trusted advisor is no easy feat. You can label yourself as an advisor, but the “trusted” part comes from other people and how they perceive you and value your expertise. Cultivating relationships like these take time, work, and care, but can be critical to your success.
Trusted advisors attract clients. Becoming the first person a client thinks of when they encounter a problem or need an opinion is your ultimate goal. A lot of aspiring advisors say they can do a lot of things, but few can actually deliver on those promises. Finding a balance between marketing yourself, building relationships, and developing your service can be tricky, but becoming a trusted advisor can provide long term success.
Building meaningful relationships and giving your clients the confidence to believe in your skills is the key. But how you do this can be tricky. How do you promote yourself enough but not come across as desperate and salesy? And how do you get people to come to truly trust you?
How Being a Trusted Advisor Can Impact Your Business
For IT solution providers specifically, nothing is more powerful for your bottom line than becoming a trusted advisor to your clients. A firm that can achieve this status will drive client retention resulting in revenue and profit expansion. According to research done by Bain & Company, increasing customer retention rates as little as 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%.
However, becoming a trusted advisor and maintaining client retention can be fleeting. According to Forbes magazine’s Trusted Advisor research¹, customers are not getting the help they need from their vendors – so much so that 8 in 10 customers will switch to a competitor due to poor customer service and delivery.
This is most apparent in delivering complex solutions to critical projects which is the core business of most IT solution providers. According to Standish Group’s Annual CHAOS report, 66% of technology projects have partial or total project failures.
The main reasons for failure:
- poorly outlined requirements
- lack of skill competency
To be a trusted advisor, IT solution providers must have or find the best of breed skills when bidding on IT projects. As IDC states in their October newsletter, “In a world brimming with digital technology, the need to be a ‘master of all trades’ seems to be at an all-time high. However, we know it’s unlikely for your business to be an expert at all IT skills needed to fulfill projects successfully”.
There is a need for solution providers to participate in an open ecosystem that enables collaboration for skills/resources in a structured and efficient approach. IDC predicts that if businesses do not participate in a proactive, organized ecosystem by 2022, they will likely fail.
We recently spoke with Wally Musto, Managing Partner at More Solutions Group, an IT services firm and P2P Global member, to gain his insight into what it means to be a trusted advisor and why being one is so critical. “We created More Solutions Group because we saw two common problems in the industry: whenever firms needed to look for contractors to fill IT skills or bandwidth gaps, they had to work with staffing firms that weren’t providing the best resources and ultimately had an untrustworthy vetting process. More Solutions provides only known and trusted resources we have experience with to minimize risk for our clients.
There were also a lot of great recruits that were struggling with figuring out where to find the tools they needed to grow in their career and the people that would help them maximize their opportunities. More provides a sense of community, a trusted approach to solutions, and experience that enables us to play integral roles in a client’s IT transformation and optimization.”
“We specialize in integrating with our clients’ teams to understand their business needs at the core, and provide them with the skills and expertise to fill their short and long term needs – benefiting both our recruits and our clients. We’re able to be our clients’ trusted advisors because we’ve demonstrated prioritizing their needs and success, and we’ve had proven success in providing exceptional services in filling their skill gaps.”
Becoming an Ecosystem Orchestrator
The P2P Global platform was built to help connect solution providers of all types. In this self-serve marketplace, our members are becoming their own ‘ecosystem orchestrator’ by leveraging an effective P2P platform to solve for skill gaps. As an ecosystem orchestrator, our members are able to scale their trusted advisor roles and increase their competitiveness – providing even more value to their customers.
Jay McBain, Principal Analyst of Channels, Partnerships & Ecosystems at Forrester, recently outlined his Top 10 Predictions for the Channel in 2022, and we could not agree more with his #1 prediction:
“The ecosystem orchestrator becomes the new trusted advisor”
P2P Global is an open ecosystem partner platform that helps firms become trusted advisors by connecting solution providers to solve critical project skill gaps. The P2P platform was built from the ‘inside out’ designed specifically for the IT solution provider community. With P2P, members make requests for project skill gaps and will automatically be matched to a pool of top skilled candidates from other ecosystem members.
Brandy Semore, Senior Director of IT Services & Engagement at Pinnacle Business Systems, recently spoke with us about one way Pinnacle prioritizes their trusted advisor role by constantly adapting and improving team skills as technology advances. “We have a disciplined approach to make sure our team is ahead of the game for certifications and training. Every quarter we review individual training plans and compare it to the types of projects we have now, the types of projects being discussed, and what customers are trending towards at a technical level. We then compare this to the skills we currently have, the skills we need to attain or find partners for, and the skills we need to improve.”
Furthermore, Semore explained that a platform like P2P Global has helped change the IT industry exponentially by bridging the gap between skill sets and allowing companies to scale and become more proactive, more quickly. She added, “Without a platform like P2P Global, the process is much slower to find vetted skilled partners. Working with other like-minded advisors allows us to identify credible and trustworthy partners in real time with the expertise we need to make custom fit solutions for customers that we previously didn’t have the skill set for. This is truly a fine-tuned, trusted platform.”
Similarly, Arrow’s enterprise computing solutions business understands how strategic an open ecosystem is for their channel partners and recently announced a collaboration with P2P Global. As Mark Taylor, president of Arrow’s enterprise computing solutions business in North America recently said, “Teaming with P2P Global represents the future of the open ecosystem.
This platform allows our channel partners to tap into a powerful marketplace. They can find resources to expand into new IT offerings, and offer services to other P2P members looking to supplement their capabilities.”
Dan Danielli, sales director for Arrow’s enterprise computing solutions business, also gave his insight on how Arrow is helping their channel partners to expand their trusted advisor role by leveraging an open ecosystem. “It used to take days or even weeks to facilitate connections between service delivery providers, but by using P2P Global’s open ecosystem, we are able to accelerate these connections to hours or minutes. Our intent is for our channel partners to be more empowered.
Platforms like P2P Global are important as they connect our channel partners with pre-vetted experts they can engage to deliver a final solution to their clients.”
Behaviors You Need To Adopt
While this should be common sense, it’s worth noting that being a trusted advisor is all about the client. Rather than trying to make others interested in you, you should work on becoming interested in others. This might sound counterproductive to what has just been said, but this mindset will build trust.There are some good behaviors you can adopt to build healthy relationships with clients.
- Work on long lasting relationships
- Do what you say you can do and will do
- Put the clients interests first
- Understand a client’s interests and what they want
- Become genuinely interested in the clients business
With the increased complexity of IT projects and the need for specialized skills, maintaining and growing your trusted advisory role can be a challenge today – and it will not get easier in the future. Combined with shortage of skills, you will need to become your own partner ecosystem orchestrator – allowing you to establish new partnerships in an effort to deliver even more customer value.
Consider a platform approach and improve your trusted advisor capabilities by joining P2P today.