One word - psychology.
In more than one word, if your sales efforts fall flat, it is most likely because the psychology you're using is wrong. Funny, but the wrong psychology is better than using no psychology. So, it pays to at least try to use it. See, you use psychology either purposefully or accidentally. You either benefit from it, or you become a victim of it. Which would you prefer?
Picture two boxes. Label the first box "Prospect's psychology." Then, label the other box "My psychology." Now, populate each box with the relevant values and decision-making information. Which one do you think the prospect will respond to? What does he want and what does he base his decisions on? You can't very well expect to consistently make sales if you can't figure out the answers to those questions.
I've been coaching producers and advisors on this topic for more than 20 years. In nearly every case, the problem comes down to which box the advisor spends the most time in. Here's how it typically goes.
1. The prospect walks into the advisor's office.
2. They prospect and advisor shake hands.
3. The advisor asks, "What can I do for you?"
4. The prospect answers.
5. The advisor begins to talk about himself.
6. Finally, the prospect says, "Thanks, but no thanks."
The key step in that process is at the handshake. If you can't read your prospect in that brief moment, and get a good sense of his psychology, then you have already placed an impassable obstacle in your own way. Could it be that you are the negative catalyst in your own sales efforts? Absolutely.
Lesson No. 1 --
Read every person who comes into your life. The more you know about them, the better you will be at communicating to them -- appealing to items in their box.
How can you read them? First, just look into their face. What do you see? Can you tell what facial expression someone makes most of the time? It should be pretty easy. Just notice what lines are most dominant. Then, imagine what facial expression would cause those lines. Then, ask what state of mind would cause someone to make that face? Here's a hint. There are only about six typical facial expressions that nearly every human being makes.
Once you go through that little process, you'll have a great deal of information about what is in that person's box. Remember, you main job is to figure out the other person's psychology (box).
What would you say to a prospect who asks about performance?
Most advisors try to sidestep the questions about performance, and immediately get defensive. Others put the answer into perspective, comparing their performance to that of other investors. Both strategies are ineffective.
The people who are most effective at answering that performance question approach it in a very different way. They use what they've learned from reading the prospect and give an answer that is relevant to him. In other words, they are reaching into his box and using information from it to craft a response that is relevant to that person's psychology.
Lesson No.2 --
Use what you learned to appeal to that prospect. The main thing you can learn from a stranger (from just looking) is his personality type, which can tell you his values. Personality types (or social styles) used to be an area in which producers were well-trained. Now, however, very few understand even the basic elements of personality types. Every time we do a seminar, we ask who has taken a seminar or read a book on personality types. As few as 10 years ago, most of the audiences would raise their hands. Now, only about 10 percent raise their hands.
With that in mind, I'll use the common names for the four types and appeal to the main values for each.
is conservative and most interested in protecting his money, because that's the financial safety blanket over his family. You could say, "Performance depends on what your values and goals are. For example, if you want to just make a killing in the market, you've come to the wrong place. I don't work that way. Instead, I focus on the person, on you. If you're looking to safeguard your money so your family will be protected, you've come to the right place."
is more interested in knowing. He wants to be connected to the smartest way to do business. He wants to learn the validity of your processes. That's how he determines if your performance can be consistent, or if it's an accident. You'd say, "The processes we use are all based in science. And, the managers we use are all highly respected financial analysts and economists. So, the results we get are predictably consistent."
is conservative and focuses right at the bottom line. He looks for the shortest shot between two points. And for him, the points are his investment and his return. So, you might say, "I'm sure you already know that in this economy, nearly everyone's performance is down. The research I saw this morning shows that Carl Icahn and John Paulson are not even flat but are losing money. I can pretty much guarantee you that if you ask me to invest your money in one sector, you're going to lose. But, if we work together to develop the right strategy for you, then we have a good shot at protecting your money and seeing it grow. Of course, the decisions are always up to you."
wants to know that you're giving him special treatment and that your work for him is not "standard." He believes that in-the-box solutions are doomed to fail, but that out-of-the-box solutions have a better chance of winning. You might say, "Performance means different things to different people. Your performance might be based on the freedom you get from having access to your money, and not tying it up in long-term contracts. Or, it might be based on knowing that the strategy we put in place for you is totally unique, built on your personal values."
If you approach prospects in any way other than the way that appeals to their psychology (their box), you are shooting on someone else's target. In other words, you're setting yourself up to fail.
Your work can be described in many different ways. Isn't it your responsibility to describe it in the way that makes sense to the person in front of you? If that's so, then you owe it to yourself to learn how to read people and craft your sales efforts to the person in front of you.
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