The death of selling as you know it
By Michael Lovas
Your world is likely to change drastically in the coming months, all due to pending legislation. What will it look like? Picture an angry prosecuting attorney sitting in the room as you make your sales presentation. Get the picture? With that in mind, allow me to introduce a scenario.
Does this sound familiar: Advisors are being convicted, firms are under investigation, investors are looking to the government for help and the government is blissfully looking to force big controls on the way you conduct business.
The two immediate questions are:
1) How does your life change after the regulations hit?
2) How will you have to alter your sales processes to meet the new wave of regulatory mandates?
How would your sales conversations go if there were a prosecuting attorney sitting in the room with your prospect? Probably not well. Every time you used a persuasive argument, he'd yell, "Objection -- assumes facts not in evidence!" Every time you made a promise, you'd hear the attorney yell, "Objection -- unsubstantiated!" And, as you finished your presentation, the attorney would demand that you list all the points that you conveniently left out, including fees, terms, restrictions, limitations and other reasons not to buy from you.
With that picture in your mind, welcome to the new frontier of selling. Let's look at some of the things that will most likely change in your life. You will likely have to:
1. Disclose all fees and penalties.
2. Explain how (and how much) you get paid.
3. Explain how the product is appropriate for that prospect, and how it might not be appropriate, covering both sides of the coin.
The point is: You will soon have to look for another differentiator... but what?
If the products are the same and the sales presentation is legally regulated, then you will walk onto a completely level playing field, with one exception -- you. I'm not talking about your sparkling personality; I'm talking about your character.
Your listening skills become a differentiator. Your ability to demonstrate your wisdom becomes a differentiator. Your ability to prove your credibility becomes a differentiator. Your ethics and character become differentiators (those are prime differentiators). In addition, but secondary, your ability to build rapport becomes a differentiator. Your ability to make the prospect like you becomes a differentiator. Your ability to get the prospect to listen to you becomes a differentiator.
In the coming world, the rubber will have met the road. Personality and persuasion might work, but they are not enough, and they just might also win you an expensive trip to your local federal courthouse.
What if you actually could demonstrate and prove that you are the best choice to serve as that person's advisor? What if you could demonstrate your ethics, trustworthiness, wisdom and credibility? What if you could get your prospect to trust that you are now and will continue to be the sentry looking out for his interest? Wouldn't that place the eagle's feather in you cap?
But how? This is the point in your career where you stop being a salesperson and start thinking like a therapist. Picture yourself as the prospect's advocate -- not making a pitch, but facilitating a conversation to determine what is truly appropriate for that person. Not pushing a product -- but solving whatever the problem is in the most appropriate way. Do that, and chances are that attorney will nod his head and smile at you.
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