Trusted Advisor Physician

Are You a Trusted Advisor to Your Prospects and Customers?

Pause for a moment to reflect on the relationships you’ve had in your life. Think about the people you know care about you, people who would always put your interests first and would always act in your best interest, without regard to if/how it benefits them. These are the people we most trust. Now, think about people whose expertise you most value, the people you can count on for expert advice and counsel because they are particularly wise and thoughtful. If you were to list out the names of the people on these two lists and create a Venn diagram showing those people who appear on both lists, you’d have your list of trusted advisors.

As sales professionals, our ability to become trusted advisors to our prospects and customers has the potential to transform our sales performance AND our job satisfaction. Today we’ll look at what it means to be a trusted advisor and how sales professionals could fill this role for every prospect and customer they meet.

The Two Characteristics of Trusted Advisors

Nearly everyone has experienced the power and value of having a trusted advisor at some point in their lives or career. Perhaps this was a physician, attorney, accountant, or financial planner. Whatever their profession, trusted sales advisors demonstrate two critical characteristics that set them apart and make them invaluable resources.

First, they see our best interests as their number one priority. We never feel we have to withhold information or provide an incomplete picture of our situation because we are certain they will always do right by us. We never have to worry that serving their own self-interests will be in conflict with serving us, because they genuinely value the relationship and therefore believe that serving us is in their best interest.

Secondly, trusted advisors have the skill and knowledge needed to help us be successful. Let’s face it; we may share with friends and family and may have authentic, loving relationships. But that doesn’t mean you want your brother-in-law performing surgery or filing your taxes. Trusted sales advisors possess expertise they can leverage to help us.

However focused or broad their expertise may be, we also trust that they are authentic and will leverage it without purporting to have something to offer when they don’t. This unique balance of expertise and authenticity allows the trusted sales advisor to build lasting, productive relationships.

Why Become a Trusted Advisor?

Numerous studies illustrate the value of becoming trusted sales advisors. When sales professionals become trusted advisors in the eyes of their prospects and customers, they produce better results. More importantly, trusted advisors experience the internal reward that comes when one’s personal and professional life are aligned.

Far too often in this profession, sellers are told about the importance of authentic relationships just before they are taught a skill that puts them at odds with the people they are supposed to serve. This disconnect sabotages productive relationships and sales performance.

Trusted advisors never place their need for results above client needs because they don’t want to and don’t have to.

What Do Trusted Advisors Do?

Becoming a trusted advisor isn’t a one-time decision because developing the skill and knowledge to add value to our relationships isn’t a one-time event. One of the hallmarks of trusted advisors is that we trust in their expertise. This doesn’t happen by accident or by way of some communications tactic – trusted advisors invest in their own development and learn continuously as a means of providing the best possible value to the people they serve.

Not only does this mean they study within their field, whether it be medicine, finance, telecommunications, technology, or something else, but it also means they study more broadly to better understand the people and businesses they serve. This includes a pressing desire to improve how they can best interact with those they serve to add value constantly.

4 Steps to Becoming a Trusted Sales Advisor

For many professionals, there are proven models for how they should interact with their clients in order to provide the best value possible, and professional selling is no different. Want to become a trusted sales advisor? Do the following key things better than your competition and you’ll be valued by everyone you meet – even if they don’t immediately become customers. (We have included a reference to Axiom model for each of these conversations as reference only. It isn’t critical that you use Axiom models, only that you become highly skilled with an effective model for each.)

1. Learn about the people you serve — Trusted sales advisors are curious about the people they serve, not because they can sell something or that people will love them. They do it because they love to learn about others and genuinely appreciate the unique differences they find in every interaction with everyone they meet. But they aren’t random, either. They have a system to learn about others — a way to dive in on what is really important to each and every person they meet.

At Axiom, the model for deeply understanding prospects, customers, and their businesses is referred to as DIG (Description, Impact, and Gap)

2. Use what you’ve learned to help people make better decisions — Trusted sales advisors know that decisions create our experiences. They realize that even before someone can be served by a product or service, that person needs to become comfortable with their own decision. They also never take another person’s decision lightly, and they become experts at differentiated decision-making to help their prospects and customers and they use what they know to help their buyers make more informed decisions.

At Axiom, the model for developing these criteria is DICE (Description, Impact, Criterion, and Evidence) 

3. When you make a recommendation, be compelling — Trusted sales advisors speak in specific terms on issues that are important to the other person. They know people will do more to avoid near-term pain than they will to gain future benefits. So they learn to speak specifically about how today’s decisions impact today’s issues and tie this to a clear picture of a better future.

At Axiom, the methodology for presenting recommendations is PCSB (Problem, Cause, Solution, and Benefit).

4. Always collaborate to address concerns — Trusted sales advisors never consider another person’s concerns to be an objection to the advisor’s position. They understand that making good decisions can be difficult and would never minimize those concerns. They frame the concerns objectively to illuminate the real issue. By helping their buyers understand the true significance of the concern, they can work with that person to determine what can be done to resolve the issue.

At Axiom, the model for this interaction is IQRIQA (Identify, Quantify, Relate, Isolate, Qualify, and Answer).

Ready to become a trusted sales advisor to your prospects, customers, or sales team? For more than 25 years, Axiom has helped enterprise sales teams become trusted advisors. Axiom provides a unique alternative to traditional sales training. Unlike traditional sales training events, we embed our methodology into your sales cadence, delivering dramatically better sales results.

More importantly, we engage in an authentic relationship to become trusted advisors to your team. The result is ongoing upward sales momentum, stronger, longer-lasting relationships, and a sustainable, competitive advantage. To learn more about our Mindful Selling Methodology, Kinetics Sales Effectiveness Platform, or our unique, guaranteed approach, please visit us at

Sales Excellence Journey

Why You Need a Sales Operating System

While Alabama football may not be playing for a national championship again this year, it’s nearly certain they will be in the mix again next year. Meanwhile, Georgia, led by a former Alabama assistant coach, may well repeat as national champions. And as I think about that, I’m reminded of the importance of a comprehensive sales operating system for competitive excellence. I know … quite a shift from football to sales. But bear with me.  

At Alabama, they don’t just have a scheme for offense and defense. They have a system for everything from who they recruit to how they practice and prepare to coach. And they are fanatically committed to that system. If this approach helps the Alabama football team achieve the highest winning percentage in college football, could it help your team win at a higher rate?


Let’s face it. A myriad of challenges besets the sales profession (I know, beset and myriad in the first sentence of a blog is frightening, but hang on). Buyers engage with sellers later in their evaluation than ever before – if they engage at all. More products are sold more often and without the involvement of a sales professional than ever before. Yet, despite losing control over information about our solutions, there is hope. When buyers engage with salespeople, that engagement will likely have more impact on their decision than the product, the price, and the company combined!

Whoop-de-doo, what does it all mean, Basil? (Blatant Austin Powers reference for fans of the trilogy).

Selling more effectively might be your company’s most important competitive advantage. Unfortunately, many companies leave sales excellence to chance and miss a great opportunity to differentiate themselves. These companies often have little to no formal processes for this critical business function.

They often lack predictive, leading indicators for sales performance, and their models for opportunity management, account management, and sales coaching are often poorly defined.

The result: sporadic achievement, missed forecasts, and mounting frustration.

Please understand me. It isn’t that these companies aren’t trying to sell better than their competition. Everyone wants to sell better, just like every college football team wants to win weekly. However, most companies still treat selling as something between black art and acquired skill. They either try to gain an advantage by hiring people who have already figured out how to sell, or they send everyone to training once a year, hoping that new skills will stick.

What these companies really need is a comprehensive system that drives superior execution of proven skills – they need a full-blown sales operating system.

Now, before you tap out because that project is too overwhelming even to consider, let us provide a four-point roadmap and reassure you that this can be done in the next 6 – 12 months.

Step 1: Implemeny Models

The first step on our journey is to implement models for your most important selling behaviors, including how your people will engage with prospects and customers. This cannot just be a fancy way to tell your company story. Prospects don’t meet with us because they think our story will be more entertaining than the season finale of Ted Lasso. They meet with us because they need help figuring out what is best for them, which means we need to understand them. Your customer engagement model should help you build great relationships by being completely aligned with your buyers’ needs at each step along their journey.

More than random skills models, your people need to know WHAT to do, WHEN, AND HOW to do it, and there should be some consistency and agreement about what poor, acceptable, and exceptional execution looks like. To facilitate this, you should have clear information objectives (what you want to know about prospects and customers) and models for everything from learning about their business to developing differentiating decision criteria and presenting recommendations based on their unique situation and criteria.

Key point – wherever possible, you need the ability to capture artifacts from these buyer interactions to facilitate effective execution of these models.

For example, if your people should be gathering specific information about their opportunities, such as business issues and differentiating criteria, this information should be available for review as artifacts of effective or perhaps ineffective execution.

Step 2: Sales Model

Second, you need a model for how your sales managers will coach and develop your people. In fact, sales coaching is arguably the single most important habit for a high-performing sales team to develop. This needs to include the cadence and approach for everything from funnel/pipeline reviews to opportunity and account plan reviews to joint sales calls. Once again, there must be measurable artifacts from effective coaching conversations, this time in the form of selling or developmental assignments. With nothing to measure, you will have no way to evaluate the effectiveness of your coaches and their ability to develop your team.

Step 3: Embed All Models into Your CRM

Your selling and coaching models must be embedded into your CRM. This means more than just creating a few fields and reports. The typical CRM is a great platform for sales success. Still, it doesn’t have applications to help people win opportunities, or coach and develop sellers. Done correctly, the CRM can help drive best practices and help you create accountability for better selling and coaching engagements.

Don’t be fooled by custom development projects with no clear behavioral models or disjointed point solutions that promise to drive any and all selling behaviors. Even more importantly, please don’t accept any solution that treats the learning and development of your team as an event that is separate from their work.

The most effective learning happens while people do their jobs, not apart from it.

Step 4: Recruit

Finally, once you define these models and embed them into your CRM with applications that are specifically designed to support execution and promote accountability, you are ready to recruit your players. Maybe you already have the right team in place, but candidly, the right players aren’t absolute. It depends on the system they are in.

Alabama has very strict guidelines for the type of players they will recruit. How committed are they? Each year, they are allowed just one exception to their profile. Not one per position, or one on offense and one on defense, just one … period! Once you know what system you are running, you can bring on talent that suits the system. And you can do it confidently, knowing that the right talent in the right system will consistently produce better outcomes. But how do you know you are on the right track? Do like all great teams, constantly measure everything and look for ways to adjust to optimize your results. If you’ve implemented the right models and tools, it will be easier than you think to see the full “causal chain” for your sales successes and failures, and you will be on the path to continuous improvement.

As Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban says, “Process guarantees success. A good process produces good results.”

Want to learn more? Axiom provides a unique alternative to traditional sales training. Unlike traditional sales training events, we embed our methodology into your sales cadence, delivering dramatically better sales results. To learn more about our Mindful Selling Methodology, Kinetics Sales Effectiveness Platform, or our unique, guaranteed approach, please visit us at