Guest Column | January 14, 2020

Trusted Advisor Marketing — Why It Almost Always Fails

By Jay Valentine,

Field Technologies Trusted Advisor

Time to come clean.

We use only trusted advisor marketing. We love it and it has been fabulously successful.

However, it will probably fail for everyone else on the planet.

Let’s set the stage. We sell a product with a price tag starting at $250,000 a year and pretty quickly adding at least one zero. For every dollar spent, the customer gets back 9 dollars. The product is installed and fully operational in 90 days and requires almost no support.

Pretty good ROI but good as it might be, we found the IT tech community, led by the CIO was seldom our friend.

Our product eliminates the need for data centers.

It takes an app that runs for 96 hours across an $87 million data center and runs the same app on a Raspberry Pi costing $100. That app runs in 11 seconds.

You would think we have a very easy marketing road; you would be wrong.

CIOs do not want disruption. They do not want risk. They want to be home for soccer practice. We learned that painfully.

We are self-funded. No VC money as all of our founders have been screwed by VCs.

What do we mean by “trusted advisor marketing?”

Here is an example.

We wanted to call on the CEO of a Fortune 25 company because we could show our product, in certain instances, could give them a competitive advantage over Amazon. Everyone knows this particular firm.

Using traditional sales techniques, the nonsense one reads on LinkedIn, we would have called, sent letters, found the CEO on social media and all the other junk moves that everyone uses and that universally fail.

We met the retired EVP of Marketing for this company. He is a fascinating, brilliant and most curious person. We showed him the technology. We took him into sales calls so he could see our work in action.

After a short while, he was helping us with our volunteer army of trusted advisors and he was crafting some of our marketing messaging.

A short while ago, he called and said he had spoken to the CEO of the company we wanted to meet. He shared what he saw in demos, in real installations and what he thought it could do for them. He made the case, in human to human conversations, that if adopted, this firm would have a substantial advantage over Amazon.

Amazon is on the CEO’s mind and recent Wall Street Journal articles prove it.

We are now scheduled to meet with the CEO and several of his unit presidents. No CIO.

There will be a board member there. They set the agenda and they have reviewed our key talking points. They have changed their schedules because if we are correct, this is of singular importance.

This is a recent story and we have a dozen equally compelling narratives with the same results.

Trusted advisor marketing works for us with an almost 100 percent success rate.

It is unlikely to work for others. Why?

We are self-funded. Thus, we do not have quarterly numbers to hit. Such marketing is sophisticated and takes time to set up. Quarterly driven companies will not use it. They are committed to fail with measurable processes that produce endless sales cycles.

We do not have transaction mind sets here. We do not hire transactional types. Everyone else does. Transactional minds cannot fathom how to make trusted advisor selling work. Thus, they cannot implement it.

We also believe our salesperson is NEVER the trusted advisor. When one reads the nonsense on forums like LinkedIn, one hears how Sales VPs want their 26-year-old rep to become “…a trusted advisor” to the 40- to 60-year-old executive. This is so preposterous it does not require comment.

Trusted advisor selling is the way of the future because it is how people want to buy. It will not work at transactional mindset firms driven by VC-funded quarterly madness.

For us and our customers, we could not be more pleased with the results.

For others, it will not be implemented. We like that.

About The Author

Jay Valentine is the CEO of, bringing disruptive tech products to market without venture capital and the VP of Sales for portfolio company Cloud-Sliver.