Don't let your mentality hold you back from achieving goals that may seem out of reach.

December 24, 2020

5 Min Read
Failure vs. Success

By Ian Kieninger


Ian Kieninger

Before Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile in 1954, most people believed that such a feat was impossible. Human beings simply couldn’t run that fast.

As soon as Bannister shattered that misconception, however, others began to follow. Since 1954, more than 20,000 people have run sub-four-minute miles, including some high school students. All that changed was that people started to believe a faster mile was possible.

There’s a lesson here for trusted advisers. What’s your sub-four-minute mile? Maybe it’s a level of monthly revenue that seems impossible, or a dream client you’d love to land. Goals like these may seem out of reach — but in many cases, your mentality may be holding you back. By following these seven principles, you can push yourself beyond your perceived limits to reach success.

7 Principles

1. Invest in branding, marketing and image.

Companies in the trusted adviser space tend to underinvest in these areas, especially when they’re just starting out. When you’re young and have limited funds, you’re faced with many difficult choices. Investing in a new website, a branding project or strategic marketing campaigns may mean putting off other priorities, like hiring new staff or entertaining clients — but it’s worth it in the end.

Small businesses that want to sell to big enterprise companies have to look the part. Good marketing and branding will show the customer your capabilities and help you rapidly expand your market.

2. Define your pitch.

You’ll often be in situations where you need to make an impression on a potential client in just a few minutes. A good pitch gives them confidence that you know what you’re doing — and a bad pitch leaves you digging yourself out of a credibility hole.

Your pitch should distill the complexities of the work you do into a few clear, simple sentences. To quote Albert Einstein: “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t know it well enough.” As with any skill, practice makes perfect. Test your pitch on colleagues and peers, and polish accordingly. Create multiple versions of your pitch and continuously update it to match new environments.

3. Create a repeatable sales process.

Clear, repeatable sales processes are the key to scaling to a national or global level. When you’re just starting out, a founder or member of the executive team may be enough to handle most sales. But to grow, you need to train new salespeople to do what they do — and that means you need repeatable processes. By adopting a process-oriented approach, you’ll not only scale faster, you’ll also garner insights that enable you to identify areas for innovation where you can streamline the sales process.

4. Follow the 60/20/20 rule.

Time allocation is key to growing your trusted adviser business effectively. A good rule of thumb is to spend 60% of your time on whichever technologies are currently in high demand, so you can catch a tailwind and draft behind what’s already growing. Then, spend 20% of your time looking ahead to emerging technologies that will eventually become mainstream.

Use the remaining 20% to …

… take care of run-rate business, including traditional technologies like multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) circuits and wide area networks (WANs). Maintaining these proportions takes discipline, so don’t take your eye off the ball.

5. Place a value on your time.

If you don’t value your time, your clients won’t, either. Always charge what you’re worth, as it places a value on your own expertise. This can be a challenging principle to stick to. When you’re excited to finally get a meeting with the CIO, bringing up payment can feel uncomfortable — but ultimately, clients will respect you more if you set boundaries. If you charge $50,000 for your advice, clients will value it at $50,000 — but they’ll value it as nothing if you give it away for free.

6. Focus exclusively on mid-sized and large deals.

While they can be crucial partnerships, it’s easy to get stuck only serving small businesses. They’re easier to onboard and transact faster. But if you want to climb to the top, you have to prioritize enterprise and midmarket clients, as that’s where you’ll find the biggest revenue and fastest scale.

Large organizations are complex and hierarchical, and their IT departments often struggle to communicate effectively with the business side. A skilled trusted adviser can add a great deal of value by aligning with executive sponsors, then looking at the situation holistically and delivering the individualized solutions the organization needs. That doesn’t mean you have to ignore small businesses entirely — but reach them through call centers or other low-cost options, saving the bulk of your sales resources for bigger companies.

7. Leverage partners to scale.

When it comes to building capabilities for your business, avoid reinventing the wheel. Instead, invest in growing a few areas you’re passionate about and outsource everything else. It’s a reality of business today that all trusted advisers are a part of an ecosystem: You might compete with a company one day, then partner with them the next. Why recreate something someone else already built when you can leverage it to help you scale?

What’s Your Four-Minute Mile?

Success is often a question of mindset. If we tell ourselves that a goal is impossible or unreachable, then those limiting beliefs become reality. By following these seven principles of success, you can break free of those limits and take your trusted adviser business to the next level.

Ian Kieninger is CEO and co-founder of Avant Communications. He serves on CompTIA’s Telecom Advisory Council and is a co-founder of the Technology Channel Association (TCA), the indirect channel industry’s first trade association. Prior to Avant, he oversaw various advanced technology practices at CDW. He has a bachelor’s degree in finance and marketing from Miami University. Follow him on LinkedIn or @Avant_CCC on Twitter.

Read more about:

Free Newsletters for the Channel
Register for Your Free Newsletter Now

You May Also Like