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Are you a sales person or "the portal to the financial world?"Article added by Rodney Ballance on November 23, 2011
Rodney Ballance

Rodney Ballance

Branson, MO

Joined: September 22, 2011

We as financial professionals have one of two ways to go if we’re to change our business models and become trusted professionals instead of sales people. We either have to become the general practitioner who does the recommending, or we need to be the specialist who gets recommended.

I recently read a well-written and informative article on ProducersWEB posted by Charles Green addressing the “elevator speech.” His words brought back so many hours of training throughout my career developing and/or memorizing the canned speech many companies want us to regurgitate every time we’re in front of someone.

Thank you Charles, for your take on that issue. I also appreciate your insightful teachings on how to turn that around to be more interesting to the prospect that made the mistake of asking us what we do for a living.

Over the years, I’ve been that guy who spewed the speech in the elevator. If I had caused a foul smell in that closed space, I don’t believe people would have exited any faster than when they hear the terminology which distinguished me as life insurance salesman.

I’ve also been that guy who used the elevator speech at parties. I really wish I could get invited back to some of those parties again. (Particularly the ones with the big shrimp.) I think it suffices to say that the days of the canned elevator speech are as obsolete as those of the typewriter and carbon paper.

These days, I teach advisors to respond to that question, much like Charles advised, in short but interesting statements, and then re-direct the conversation back to the prospect. One example is:
    Prospect: What do you do?

    Advisor: For people who seek me out, I’m their portal to the financial world. How about you? What do you do?
I realized several years ago that the only difference between what we do and an eye doctor, for example, is how we’re perceived by the public. My next door neighbor for years was an eye doctor. People would come to him because they needed a clearer view of their surroundings. They didn’t want to run into a catastrophic situation simply because they didn’t see it coming. (Shouldn’t people look to you to prevent a financial catastrophe?)

When people went to Robbie’s office, he would review their situation and offer a prescription for them to follow that enabled them to have a clear view of what lies ahead. When they would exit his exam room, these people would walk right into the huge sales area, where his staff would fit them with frames and lenses to fill their prescription. (Don’t you provide an exam, and then offer to fill the prescription?)

Robbie, much like any doctor, was viewed as “the portal to the medical world” by his patients, even though he was selling them a product which would fill their needs and earn him a handsome profit. There’s no difference in the example of other doctors who recommend tests which are performed right in the doctor’s office as a convenience to the patient. The same is true with prescriptions and even some referrals to specialists that result in compensation for the primary care physician.

Even though these follow ups are sold to the patient and the doctor sees profit from offering them, these physicians are not seen as sales people. They are seen as trusted advisors who add value to the lives of the people who turn to them for help and guidance.
But isn’t that what we do too? Don’t we add value to the lives of those who turn to us for help and guidance? If that’s the case, why do we need an elevator speech? Why can’t we simply state that we’re a “financial advisor”, or a “personal finance specialist”, or “the portal to the financial world for those who turn to me for guidance”?

One reason is a lack of understanding in various areas of finance. Another is that we’re taught by the life insurance companies that we’re somehow limited on what we can understand by the licenses we hold. Another is simply a lack of confidence in our own abilities as professionals.

“If you don’t blow your own horn, no one else will do it for you!”

I know we’ve all heard this statement, but how many of us blow that horn, or even know where to find a horn to blow? Certainly I’m not saying that as life insurance specialists, we should put ourselves out as some kind of all-around expert on all things financial, but is your primary care physician an expert on all things medical? Of course not.

What doctors do have is the trust of those who seek them out. They also have a clear understanding of their limitations. But instead of saying I’m just a this or a that and can’t help you with this particular issue, they say I’m going to refer you to someone I trust who is better equipped to help you in this particular area of concern. In other words they bring in a specialist with whom they have developed a mutually beneficial business relationship, an arrangement that keeps the patient/client working with them for years to come with no fear of competition.

We as financial professionals have one of two ways to go if we’re to change our business models and become trusted professionals instead of sales people. We either have to become the general practitioner who does the recommending, or we need to be the specialist who gets recommended. Either way, we’ll bring value to the people who seek us out, but we’ll be viewed in a much different light by the very people who make the decision to ask us what we do. And we must develop that relationship with others who hold the other distinction.

I’ll be posting more material about how you can transform your business in future articles, but the first thing I would recommend to anyone interested in becoming the “portal to the financial world” is to contact a training organization. (Message me if you would like some recommendations.) The increase in your knowledge and understanding will translate into an increase in the number of clients, and eventually, your earnings.

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