Oxford Dictionaries respectively defines trust as a firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone or something, and the term advice as guidance or recommendations offered with regard to prudent future action.
According to Strategic Psychology, trust allows us to navigate the uncertain and complex world we live in today.
Entrepreneurs know how that uncertainty is inevitable regardless of the industry they operate in. It can hit them and their business at any time. Therefore, having trusted advisors they can count on to help them navigate and make business and financial decisions in an uncertain and complex world is very important.
In my opinion, trusted advisors have common characteristics. Here are the top five you should look for.
A trusted advisor must be credible. Credibility is built on knowledge, expertise, and professional and personal networks. Knowledge and expertise are gained through education (learning, training, professional development) and practice in a particular field. It’s very important that you feel that your advisor has credibility. Otherwise, there is no reason to accept their advice.
Credibility is also built when the advisor can put themselves in your shoes. If your advisor is also an entrepreneur, for example, they convey a message to you that they understand your situation because they have been there.
Ability to Establish and Maintain Lasting Client Relationships
Client relationship is the backbone of business. Having excellent client relationship management is key to success for companies. Customer service excellence is a great start. You should look for a warm welcome and follow-ups from your advisor. Make sure you give them consent to follow up with you and are open to communicating in your preferred method (email, phone, texting, etc.).
Remember, a trusted advisor can also resemble a psychologist. When you trust them, you will be comfortable sharing not only your business queries but also other subjective issues that may cause your business failure—enabling them to help you avoid that failure.
In this case, the trusted advisor demonstrates empathy and finds the right words to help clients keep going during times of doubt.
Ability to Do Something Extra for the Client
Some people suggest an extra mile; others, such as the Disney Institute, suggest an extra inch. What’s important is that the advisor is making the effort to exceed your expectations.
When you contact a trusted advisor, you are looking for answers to your questions. You know what you are looking for, but aren’t necessarily aware of what you don’t know that can make a difference in moving forward. It’s the trusted advisor’s responsibility to listen carefully to you and ask questions to ensure they understand your unique needs.
Ability to Manage Client Expectations
A trusted advisor avoids being pretentious and recognizes their limitations. The trusted advisor will clarify your expectations and advise on what they can offer to avoid misunderstandings or miscommunications.
Being honest and finding the right words to tell you what you don’t necessarily want to hear is important. A trusted advisor will never just tell you what you want to hear.
Your trusted advisor is not only trusted by you: having a solid, trustworthy network of knowledgeable and competent professionals and knowing about useful resources available in the community is very important. A trusted advisor will send you somewhere else if they cannot offer you what you need.
Ability to Retain Customers
Before embarking on the conquest of new customers, successful companies must be able to retain existing customers. Customer retention includes being able to deal with difficult clients. This is something you, as an entrepreneur, must be good at, and your advisor should be, too.
Trusted advisors don’t take it personally when you are angry. They do their best to maintain the conversation until the time is right to bring a colleague into the conversation. Sometimes, you might need to hear a different voice or tone.
If there is no other solution than to let you go, the trusted advisor keeps the door open for future follow-ups to try to win you back—without being pushy.
A trusted advisor knows that the client—you—is the reason they exist. Although they have learned that “the client is king,” they know in reality that you are more than a sovereign. Whereas a kingdom can survive the absence of its ruler (at least until a successor is chosen), trusted advisors know that there is no alternative to clients. Remember, a trusted advisor works for YOU.