Becoming a Trusted Advisor
(Article 4 of the series on “Becoming an Independent Manufacturers’ Rep who Develops Specifications with Architects and Engineers”)
The term “trusted advisor” is a catchy phrase used in many business environments. Yet how do you know one when you see one? As noted by the article, “What Does a Trusted Advisor Look Like?” a trusted advisor can be identified by these characteristics:
- Someone looking for a long-term relationship, not short-term gain;
- Someone who puts clients’ interests in front of their own;
- Someone who is genuinely interested in their clients and their businesses;
- Someone who works hard to understand a client’s underlying interests not just surface “wants”;
- Someone who is reliable – does what he or she says he or she will do;
- Someone who is credible;
- Someone who gets up close and personal;
- Someone who connects emotionally;
- Someone who is genuinely passionate and enthusiastic;
- Someone who is authentic.
These characteristics apply directly to a trusted advisor who is working with an A/E. For a manufacturers’ representative, becoming a trusted advisor takes time and a focus on being a consultant and problem solver, not simply a sales person.
After decades of experience in the construction industry, I have found the following steps are required to become an A/E’s trusted advisor.
- Answer an architect’s questions clearly and in a timely manner. If you do not know the answer, check with an appropriate source. Give the architect the final answer when promised.
- When calling to offer design or specification assistance on a particular project, do your best to make the contact at the right stage of the project. A/E’s are very busy and often under time constraints to complete specifications. Some A/E’s accept telephone calls, but most often the initial contact should be made by email.
- Keep the A/E up-to-date with information about new products or changes to existing products through social media and emails. Do not flood them with constant communication. Keep communication concise and timely.
- Link your company website to the websites of the manufacturers you represent.
- Keep the manufacturers you represent limited to one or at most two Divisions of the specifications. The A/E needs to learn and understand what technical areas you can assist with, so he knows when to call for consultation with you.
- Provide educational lunches and seminars at appropriate times.
- Get to know an architect personally by spending short times during personal visits to talk about family, hobbies, etc. Entertain the A/E as appropriate.
Becoming a trusted advisor might sound intimidating, but it’s doable with thoughtful effort.
With this understood, it leads us to our last question, addressed in Article 5, “How does an independent manufacturers’ rep assist architects with specification writing?”
Questions so far? Scott Lau Consulting is ready to be a trusted advisor for you. Contact Scott today.