Olivier Le Moal - stock.adobe.co

Executives increasingly open to external guidance from experts

External expertise is something that is rising up the agenda for C-suite customers looking for thought leaders

The ambition to become a trusted adviser is often described as one of the main goals being pursued by any channel company. Along with deepening the customer relationship, there are other benefits from partners being seen as providers of strategic advice as well as of products and services.

Research from Grist seems to indicate that customers can also see the benefits of working with experts.

The firm found in its The value of B2B thought leadership survey that C-suite executives were increasingly preferring to talk to external advisers rather than get advice from their peers.

Previous surveys have had industry peers in the top three sources for executives looking for advice, but this time around it has dropped down, with only a third of respondents seeking out those opinions, to be replaced by independent industry experts.

When it came to getting an idea from executives around what they were looking for, the top three demands were around being forward-thinking, action-orientated and fresh-thinking. There were also signs that customers were open to getting ideas via video and online events, as well as traditional content.

“With the coronavirus pandemic affecting businesses all around the world, the value of external support is rising, which could be due to internal teams focusing on ensuring business as usual can continue where possible,” said managing director at Grist, Andrew Rogerson.

“With advisory firms climbing into the top three sources of insight for the C-suite for the first time, and senior executives reading more thought leadership now than ever before, advisers need to show their worth at a time when demand for their services is at an all-time high,” he added.

The idea that business leaders are open to external advice is a positive, but the channel cannot take it for granted that they will be given a hearing. The Grist report found that there was a need for those pithing advice to have proven credentials. As many as 91% of senior executives revealed that thought leadership was either critical or important when it came to deciding which adviser to work with.

“Not producing thought leadership simply isn’t an option. What advisers need to do now is think about how they can make their thought leadership different and better, and then utilise this to effectively meet the needs of prospective clients,” added Rogerson.

One channel source said that partners were not only in a position to deliver strategic guidance, but had other advantages.

"Ultimately, what the channel can bring is choice. A partner can give customers options and be a source of independent advice, which you would not get from a vendor,” said the source.

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