The role of trusted advisor: do you have it?

CEO of PhoenixCG specializing in collaborative business ecosystems to accelerate innovation and open new markets.

In the world of ecosystem partnerships, everyone is clamoring to be “the trusted advisor,” often without fully understanding what that means. Not every partner in your ecosystem can claim that role – a role that, it turns out, can be multifaceted. It is possible to claim that role on a strategic level when advising clients about their business, on an operational level when managing day-to-day operations or even in niche specialties. Few can claim all of the above.

The heavy burden of advice

Providing business strategy or transformation advice is typically the most influential role of a trusted advisor – a role fulfilled by consulting and consulting firms that is also closely related to the role of building the customer value proposition and business case for transformational change. This is a heavy burden to bear.

These services focus on the core of the customer’s business model. For example, if your client is a bank, how can you help their clients feel financially secure? If your client is a hospital, how can you help them improve patient outcomes and avoid litigation by reducing medical errors? How can you help a manufacturer navigate supply chain disruptions? How do you help customers become more competitive and profitable and deliver better customer experiences and outcomes? How do you ensure that they are not overwhelmed by disruption, or even become the disruptor in the market?

Once the vision for transformation has been defined, it is time to design the change through people and processes and specify the technology and infrastructure required to achieve the expected outcomes leading to acquisition, implementation and operation.

It can be very frustrating for product-focused partners that sales and recurring revenue happen at the end of the transformation process. The key to success for product-oriented companies is to ensure that your products provide a better value proposition in achieving the expected outcome, getting you into that transformation strategy early on.

Understand the ‘trust’ part of Trusted Advisor

Partners who can bring deep industry expertise are extremely valuable in delivering an engaging customer experience. These advisors know and understand the drivers and disruptors in the client’s industry. They know what problems they face that are unique to their business, as well as how others have overcome those problems. This understanding creates the “trust” part of a trusted advisor.

For example, at the outbreak of the pandemic, partners who knew the healthcare sector were in a great position to deliver digital health systems, while the demand for remote health services skyrocketed. Organizations that just knew how to build a portal were at a disadvantage to those who knew and understood the healthcare industry.

Because today’s digital transformation technology implementations are complex and involve multiple vendors and services, strong relationships between these partners are critical. Customers want an integrated, worry-free solution and it’s the job of partners to provide it.

If there are integration or performance issues, you need to work together to fix them instead of leaving your customers with an endless cycle of pointing and blaming. This reinforces the role of the trusted advisor who takes responsibility for directing suppliers of the constituent products and services to ensure issues are resolved without dragging the customer into the middle.

Customers don’t want to buy a bag of parts (some assembly required). Customers are looking for business results and expect a complete solution to deliver those results. This, of course, requires collaboration and integration of products and services around the customer value proposition. And customers need to be able to rely on their trusted advisor to deliver. Without it, the customer is left with the bag (with parts). Business Council is the leading growth and networking organization for entrepreneurs and leaders. Am I eligible?