Saturday, November 22, 2008

Morning Session #2: Troy

Time to get serious. We have lots of work to do with this new "Trusted Advisor" initiative.

Entering a golden age of travel. All the indicators are still there. 2x as many people in our target demographic as there currently is. Wealth transfer is still significant.

It just might be that the destruction of the fixation on materialism puts us in a great position -- to deliver a meaningful, authentic, memorable experience. This can only happen if the client trusts you.
How do you build this trust? (With clients, with co-workers, with suppliers.)

Answer: Trust Advisor: Making the Transition from Agent to Advisor
Can we change? Absolutely. How do we change ourselves to make this shift?
  1. Stage One: Vendor/Agent
  2. Stage Two: Expert
  3. Stage Three: Value Resource
  4. Stage Four: Trusted Advisor
There are four components to building trust.
  • Credibility. Most commonly achieved. Our comfort zone.
  • Reliability. About dependability and consistency. Words = deeds.
  • Intimacy. Most common failure. Does not mean sharing private lives. Means sharing personal things related to issues at hand. Being emotionally close. Examples: recognize the "good" (anniversaries, birthdays) and the "bad" (anniversary of a death, etc.)
  • Low Self Orientation. Greatest killer of trust. Being selfish. Appearing to be in it for the money. Focus on ourselves instead of the client. We are all "wired" this way. Have to break the natural cycle.
You need to develop a plan. What's your "Trusted Advisor Action Plan?" Create it now. List each characteristic. What do you do well with respect to that characteristic? What can you do to improve?

Credibility: Don't tell lies or exaggerate -- ever. Be passionate. When you don't know it, say you don't know it. Relax. Prepare. Slow down. Love your product & show it!

Reliability: Make (and keep) your commitments. Send meeting materials in advance. Review the agenda with the client and, most importantly, confirm the agenda with the client before getting started (things may have changed.) Reconfirm events before they happen. Think about what to do in the gap between an invoice & a trip. Keep the "touch" level high. Follow up, follow up, follow up.

Intimacy: Don't be afraid. Find the fun & fascination. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. Think about the words you use. One of you has to make the first move -- and it's you! Eliminate distractions. Be truly with the client. Have a system for keeping track of things since you can't remember everything. Take notes every time you speak with a client. For suppliers -- getting outside the office is where the real relationship building happens. Recognize that different people respond to different "styles" -- understand your client. There is always something you can find in common with your client to build intimacy. It is so important to say "hi, here is who I am" and "tell me about you". We're in a world where there is no relationship building and people are craving it. Make that personal call -- now.

Low Self-Interest: Pause. Open ended questions. Let the client fill the empty spaces in the conversation. Best open ended question "When you have taken this trip, what would have to have happened for you to think it was a fabulous trip?"

Being a trusted advisor will set us apart. We are making the transition. Hold ourselves accountable. Be aware. Take the risks. Pick up the phone. Think about how to build the trust and do it now.

Final thought: who is your accountability partner? You can't do it alone.

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