The closing power of positioning, Pt. 1
While restaurants depend on location, location, location, the success of selling systems depends on positioning, positioning, positioning.
The rule for success in the restaurant business is “location, location, location." You might have the greatest restaurant in the world, the best menu, the finest chef and exquisite pricing, but if the location is poor, then the chances of success are slim.
In sales, the old rule is “close, close, close.” It’s a rule that has been taught since the early 1900s, when traditional selling techniques were first formally developed. The motto was simple: If you can’t close, you can’t sell. So, we all learned to be good closers. Or at least we tried.
I was one of those people who could not close the way I was supposed to close, so I developed a selling system that required no closing techniques whatsoever. I find it infinitely more rewarding than old-time selling, and infinitely more profitable.
Many sales professionals can’t understand how you can close more sales without closing, and many think that I’m just throwing a lot of blue sky their way. The facts speak otherwise, and for good reason — a reason critical to the positioning of the entire sales process. While restaurants depend on location, location, location, the success of selling systems depends on positioning, positioning, positioning.
Our business, on the surface, appears to be the business of money and finances. Because of this, we position our sales around money and finances. I can get you the income you want; I can help you get less volatility; I can do better than CDs; I can help you reduce the costs within your portfolio; I can reduce your taxes; I can help you eliminate costs of long-term nursing care.
The illusion that our business is all about money and finances is very powerful. Because we have trained ourselves and licensed ourselves in the matters of money and finances, we have come to believe that when we sit down with clients, the meeting is about money and finances. With that core belief, everything that follows in our sales calls will revolve around how much better a client’s money and finances will be with our plan, rather than with someone else’s. Old school selling teaches us to position ourselves this way. Unfortunately, whereas restaurants fail due to poor location, our sales suffer due to our own poor positioning.
Think of it this way. You are going to build a house, so you have to be an expert in using the materials from which the house will be built. The materials, however, are not what it’s all about. It’s all about what happens when all the materials are properly and creatively put together — it’s all about the house. Imagine a homebuilder attempting to sell his services, telling his clients all about how good he is with cement, his knowledge of all the qualities of paint, his superior ability to work with metal and so on. Imagine that he sells his skills with the materials but forgets that the end result, not the materials, is what his clients want — a great house! Money means nothing to a client unless it can do something for them, and it’s what money can do — what it builds — that makes sales. So, let’s take the idea of seeking what money can do to its highest and most holistic level — a level which positions the sale in a way that is so compelling, so motivating, that the sale just closes by itself.
The key to positioning sales actually lies in the realm of psychology and humanity, famously expressed by Maslow in his hierarchy of human needs.
Maslow’s hierarchy builds from the basic needs that sustain life at the bottom all the way to personal growth and spiritual awareness at the top. If any level of the hierarchy is defective, then all the levels above that defective level will suffer. For example, without the basics of food, clothing and shelter on the bottom level, everything above that level is impossible, and a life of higher aspirations becomes unattainable. We all know that in many parts of the world, people spend so much of their time just to get the basic physiological needs in place for themselves that they have little time or energy left for anything on the higher levels. They are just trying to stay alive.
Now, if you turn your attention to the second level of Maslow’s hierarchy, you will see where we financial professionals fit in. This level is the level of safety. After people have figured out how to get the basic needs for living, they then turn their attention to how they feel about their lives, asking a simple internal question of themselves: Do I feel safe or don’t I? The safer a person feels, the better their ability to develop the higher levels of relationship, self-esteem and spiritual growth. The less safe a person feels (the more fear present in that person), the more the levels above will suffer.
Arguments at the level of safety upset relationships. Fear causes a drop in self-esteem, especially as relationships erode. Muddling through the day in worry causes breaks in friendship, family relationships and intimacy. A lack of peace of mind delivers a lack of personal growth. In short, things work, but not very well.
I believe that we financial professionals hold one of the great keys for helping people escape their fears and feel safe in their lives. What I have discovered is that when I position all my sales in terms of the second level of Maslow’s hierarchy and show the effect their feelings of fear and safety have on other aspects of their lives, clients drive themselves to buy and the sale closes by itself, rather than by some manipulative, old school closing strategy.
In Part two of this series, I will show you how, when you position your sales at the second level in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, you will be able to pierce through the illusion that your dominant offering to your client is your skill in working with money and finances. Then, once that veil is pierced and you see and experience helping your clients from a much different and enlightened position, just watch as your sales and your business take a quantum leap forward — all without ever using a closing technique again.