The worst mistake in selling financial services

By Michael Lovas


Wouldn't you agree that selling is easily the most important activity in the success of your financial services business? So, with that much responsibility, why do so many advisors continue to make the worst mistake possible?

We've been researching the psychological sales process for decades and continually find the exact same problems. Most advisors approach selling in the easiest way, not the most effective way. They present their own logic. They appeal to their own values. They present the features and benefits they like. In other words, they effectively make their sales presentations to themselves. And that is the worst mistake they (and you) can make.

Greater relevance

To bring greater relevance to this dilemma, let's look at the best way to approach selling. It's a simple three-step dance: 1) just get inside the heads of the people who might want your product, and 2) discover what they want. Finally, explain it to them in words that are most likely to excite them.

What you want to find out includes:
    1) How they want it delivered. For example, if it's skills training, do they want to get it in-person, over the phone, over the Internet or in a book?

    2) How often they want it. For example, many of my own clients ask for quarterly training and monthly coaching to follow the training.

    3) What level of sophistication they want. Most financial advisors want the most sophisticated training, but they have yet to learn the basics. For example, the most effective way to get inside the head of a prospect is to identify his/her mental filter configuration. But that's well over the heads of most advisors. That's why we start by teaching personality types and show you how to recognize someone's type by reading his/her face. It's fast, simple and highly effective.
The key

The key to being more successful at selling anything is to identify the psychology of the people who would most likely buy your product. That gives you the answer to the biggest question: Why they buy?

Again, the worst mistake in sales is to start selling without first learning the psychology of your prospect. At the most basic level, this means personality types. If you can't identify the personality type of the person in front of you, how could you possibly know what logic to use and what language to express that logic in? You can't. If selling were football, you'd be going into a game with only one play.

For example...

Let's say you want to sell your product to corporate executives. Most advisors would simply present their service to highlight the benefits they like. If it's a product sale, most advisors highlight benefits that have been identified by someone in the marketing department as being most important. Both are terrible mistakes.

The question is, which benefits would actually work best for an executive? And, would they be different from the benefits that would work for (say) an entrepreneur? Yes, indeed! The important benefits would be different because entrepreneurs have a very different psychology from corporate executives. Their psychology dictates how you make your presentation. Let's look at some specifics:

Corporate Executive Values:Entrepreneur Values
Bottom lineCreativity
TraditionPersonal connection
PowerBeing liked
Commitment Variety
Right & WrongCourage
AccountabilityPhysical movement

Now, how can you use this information to craft a more relevant presentation? The no-brainer way would be simply to name the values. For example, you might say to an executive, "This product allows you to be in control and gives you the power to make your own decisions...." And, to an entrepreneur, you might say, "This product gives you freedom and allows you to be creative...."

But let's go even deeper. Let's say you want to sell personal financial planning. Here's how you might approach each:

To the executive: "These are highly volatile times. Many smart people have lost a lot of money. The people who get hurt the most are those who have been trying to make their own trades without the most up-to-date information or appropriate training. What I'm offering you is an alliance, a partnership that allows you to be in control. I'll give you timely information and offer suggestions, and you can make the decisions if you want. Bottom line: You'll make far more right decisions and significantly increase your chance of meeting your financial goals."

To the entrepreneur: "The last thing you need is to be bogged down with the tedium of reading long columns of numbers of detailed spreadsheets. Trust me, that's one of the most boring activities on the planet. What I'm offering you is a close relationship with someone who actually thinks spreadsheets are sexy! I'll give you expert advice and together we'll develop creative approaches that get you what you want."


There is a very simple domino effect to the logic of making a sales presentation to sell financial services:
    1) Read the prospect
    2) Recognize his personality type
    3) Identify that personality type's values
    4) Frame your benefits in terms of those values
See how it all starts by reading the prospect? See that if you don't learn how to read the person in front of you, your options and flexibility are severely limited?

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