Are you a salesperson?Article added by Ed Morrow on March 16, 2010
Ed Morrow

Ed Morrow

Middletown, OH

Joined: October 29, 2005

Are you a salesperson? Of course this is a generic question, and it applies equally to women. If we ask this question of many financial professionals, they will be offended.

Deep down, may RFCs like to think of themselves using the following terms:
  • planner
  • advisor
  • analyst
  • consultant
  • wealth manager
  • asset manager
  • professional
  • fee-based
  • fee-only
  • securities broker
What is the image of a salesman? In the minds of most Americans, it is rather poor. And yet, as an occupational group, salespeople have a high income, and are rarely out of work for any extended period of time. So, for a few moments, let's avoid those negative connotations, because you really are a salesperson in many ways.

Nomenclature can be dangerous. There are many sales components in your practice, and if you do them well -- and get even better at them -- you will certainly prosper. So I would like for you to set aside the negative images of salesman, and let's see where there is room for improvement. Where does selling take place in our profession? Everywhere!

Start with your marketing plan. You should have one in writing, and it can range from several pages to a more elaborate document. But the purpose is to chart a course for the acquisition of new clients. You should have a marketing budget and clearly-defined steps that help you focus on getting more qualified clients.

You must sell them on you. This commences with the very first contact, should it be a physical introduction, a seminar invitation, a letter, or a phone call. Everything must be scripted and delivered to create a positive impression. Any misstep will create doubt and then you will not proceed to the next phase -- presenting your plan and/or service.

You must sell them on the plan. This client acquisition interview requires meticulous preparation and careful delivery, including your qualifications, your Code of Ethics, description of the planning process, the quick review of the plan, discussion of ultimate implementation, fee schedule, and your satisfaction assurance. They sign your engagement agreement and commit to pay your fee. Successfully moving the prospect through this phase is the most difficult sale you will make.

You must sell them on giving you data. This can be assisted by use of a 25-section documents archive case and the choice of a generic printed fact finder or an electronic data collection CD. The success of your plan depends on through data gathering and alsoconfirmation.

You must sell them out of their status quo. The plan must clearly illustrate the shortcomings in their current arrangements, and graphs are far more effective than text or columns of numbers. Your plan must contain a simple summary of recommendations and an action checklist that is clear and motivating.

You must sell financial products. To achieve their objectives, clients will need to make purchases, even if they are not items on which you receive a commission. For example, they might need an umbrella liability policy, and you must obtain their authorization to call the P&C agent to place the coverage into effect. So, even if you are a "fee-only" planner, it is your professional responsibility to "sell" the client on follow through of your product-related recommendations.

You must sell financial services. Many clients will need asset management services, and most also need new legal documents. You might offer AUM services, but not be a practicing attorney. So again, you must "sell" the client to proceed with the financial services that you do not personally deliver.

You must sell them to give you referrals. In some ways this is the most important sale you can make. It solves your marketing problem, but it also gives your client the opportunity to demonstrate their pleasure with your performance and your advice.

You must sell the referrals to come see you. This completes the cycle. If you do this well, pretty soon your marketing plan will focus more on increasing your image, your reputation, and your brand. Image and brand development will only make it easier to gain and retain clients.

Great salespersons are made, not born. Over and over we learn of the modest beginnings of high achievers. Lew Nason's articles often refer to Mehdi Fakharzadeh. There is no logic to explain why the son of a rug merchant in Iran should become one of the all-time greatest salesmen in America. Mehdi does not sell insurance. He sells Mehdi. And he would be the first to tell you how he acquired his skills by carefully listening to others.

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