It was pretty easy to sell financial services until the fourth quarter of last year. If you did very well last year, you will probably be able to adapt and make changes in how and what you sell now. Do that and you will probably survive and thrive in this recession. However, it you only did fairly well last year, or perhaps just got by, you may be in for a very hard time for the next couple of years. It's not that people have stopped buying; it's that it is much more difficult to sell to them now.
Many prospects are worried, fearful and cynical. They are no longer looking for the best product, the best returns or the best investment. They are discouraged and lack confidence in their own financial acumen. They are convinced that most financial institutions and financial advisors are dishonest. They want to find someone who can guide them toward safety -- someone they trust and respect.
Are you that person?
You may be trustworthy and highly competent, but how can your prospects know that? You may have credentials, designations and testimonials, but unless they feel that they trust you, they won't believe any of it. They won't believe in your competence unless they feel that they respect you. You can't prove that you are trustworthy or worthy of a prospect's respect. You cannot explain the value of your offering to a prospect with evidence and logic unless they feel that they can believe you.
The operative factor
Trust and respect are not based on facts. These feelings are often referred to as intuition. Most people describe their intuition by saying things such as, "His proposal did not feel right," "I was not getting good vibes from him," or "I really feel that I can trust her," and "I feel that he respects me and I respect him, too." If you learn how to arrive at that kind of a relationship with most of your prospects, selling can become easy and enjoyable.
The best book on the subject of intuition that I know of is Power vs. Force by Dr. David Hawkins, a research psychiatrist. It is a textbook written for psychologists, so it is not an easy read. However, it details how intuition works and includes simple tests you can use to demonstrate that almost everyone has intuitive powers.
A relationship enquiry
During one of our training sessions, a student named Anne described a sales experience she had the previous week. She was visiting with the marketing VP of a large financial services company. The company had never given her any business in the 12 years she had been calling on them. She started the conversation by saying, "Jim, I know you have been with this company for at least 12 years; when did you actually start?"
Jim said, "I've been here for a little over 16 years."
Anne asked, "Why did you decide to join this company?"
Jim said, "Well, I majored in English Literature in college. But right after I graduated, I joined the Marine Corps. After a four-year hitch, I got out and started looking for a job where I could use my education and talent. I landed one with this company where I started as an advertising copywriter."
"Why did you major in literature?" Anne asked.
Jim said, "Well, I have always loved to read and I began to write stories as a little kid, so English Lit was an obvious fit for me."
"How old were you when you first realized that you wanted to write?" Anne asked.
"I was about eight. I started to write a short story almost every day," Jim said.
Anne asked, "How did your parents react to that?"
"When I showed a story to my mother," Jim said, "she would critique the story, point out every error, but she never acted pleased. However, when my Dad got home and I showed him my story, he would be delighted and tell me how talented I was."
Anne asked, "How did you feel about their very different reactions?" That part of the conversation lasted another ten minutes while Jim talked about some very personal and emotionally charged things in his life. When Anne ended the inquiry, she felt a high degree of trust and respect for Jim, and she believed that he felt the same way about her.
Then Anne asked, "When I called last week, you said that you want to buy a financial marketing system. Why is that?"
Did you notice, she did not say, "our financial marketing system"? That would have been a manipulative assumption. Manipulation and assumptions kill sales.
Next, Anne took out a four-page questionnaire, which she used to determine exactly what type of system Jim wanted, and to be sure that she could meet his conditions of satisfaction. Every one of the questions they covered required mutual agreements and commitments. By the end of their scheduled one-hour appointment, Jim was ready to order Anne's marketing system.
Improvements require changes
I included the above story to illustrate one of the ways that the most successful producers actually sell. The emotional aspects might even shock you. Top producers are not necessarily any smarter than you, but they may be more pragmatic. They know that to make dramatic improvements in their selling skills, they have had to make dramatic changes in their beliefs about selling, and they are willing to endure the discomfort of making those changes.
To learn more about this concept, ask me about our book, High Probability Selling using the forum below.
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