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I’m ashamed to admit it, every once in a while I get sucked into mind-numbing discussions on LinkedIn. This one was posed by an individual pretending to want to become a “trusted advisor” to his customers. He posed a scenario, “I can propose A to my customer and this is my commission. If I propose B to my customer, my commission is more. B is a better solution, but I’m afraid my customer will think I’m being deceptive since I’m getting paid more for it….”

The conversation devolved, for the most part, from there with people discussing various alternatives, primarily focused on maximizing commission.

Wrong, wrong, wrong!

There is so much wrong with the premise and the resulting conversation (I don’t want to embarrass people by giving you the link, but search through my activity history for a few days, you’ll find it.

Starting the conversation with, “How do I do the right thing for my customer,” combining it with “How do I maximize my commissions,” is simply the wrong starting point. The mindset this comes from is not one that focuses on building a long-term trusted relationship with the customer.

It’s a transaction-oriented mindset. It looks at customer relationships transaction by transaction, trying to determine what’s best—for the salesperson, while in some twisted way trying to think, “am I doing the right thing for the customer?” This will never get you the “trusted advisor” status you want, and over the long term, it actually minimizes the revenue and earnings you get from customers.

Great salespeople always play the long game. They realize building relationships with customers requires consistent focus on creating value with the customer in every interaction over the course of the relationship.

They are always driven by doing the right thing for the customer. Sometimes that may mean backing away from a deal or doing something that doesn’t maximize their commission.

They aren’t naive or “charitable” in these decisions, they recognize the way they maximize the return on their investment in the customer is to focus on the long-term relationship.

Some of you may be a little confused at this point, thinking, “We’re in business to make money–for our companies and for ourselves.”

Top performers are ruthlessly focused on this. They don’t waste time on customers they can’t create value with. They won’t waste time on customers who don’t value what the salesperson can do in helping them achieve their goals.

They invest in customers and deals that enable them to grow the business relationship.

They are business-focused, they know that optimizing their performance transaction by transaction never enables them to maximize the lifetime customer value.

Becoming a trusted advisor, maximizing your ability to create value with the customer you choose to work with is simply smart business!