To be a trusted advisor, you need trust, and you need advice.What Is Not AdviceYour product is not advice. Nor is your service. Nor are the solutions that you happen to sell. The features, benefits, and advantages of what you sell are not advice either.Your management team isn’t advice, and as impressive as your board members may be, they aren’t advice. You know what else isn’t advice? All of your locations, and all of the logos of the big, recognizable, widely-admired companies you serve. As remarkable as your clients are, they are not advice.Your differentiation strategy isn’t advice either. The things that make you different and make a difference for your clients may help you distinguish yourself in a crowded market, but they are not advice.If you are spending the precious little time you have with your dream clients talking about you, your product, your company, your clients, and what makes you different, you are not “advising.”What Is AdviceWhat are all the forces weighing down on your dream client and causing them to produce results that are less than they should be? How should they be thinking about these forces, and what should they do about them?What are the risks of not responding to the systemic challenges that threaten your dream client’s business? What are their choices? What are the trade-offs? What are the risks of taking action now?What opportunities are available to your dream client now? Which provide them with the greatest advantages and which hAve the fastest return on invested time, money, and resources?How you engage with your dream client matters.Where you start the conversation is important because you are defining your relationship. If you begin the conversation with the things that you are comfortable talking about but that don’t create value, then you are not establishing that you have the potential to be their consigliere.If on the other hand, you start the conversation with strategically important issues, you demonstrate that you know something worth knowing, something that can benefit your dream client.Business acumen is the new sales acumen. s What is at risk by starting the conversation too low is nothing less than your relevance.