Be a cheerleaderArticle added by Katherine Vessenes on October 15, 2009
Katherine Vessenes

Katherine Vessenes

Chanhassen, MN

Joined: August 21, 2010

My Company

I bet you think cheerleading is just for high school students. In fact, cheerleading could be a quick way for you to close more business, improve staff morale and (I am going on a limb here), strengthen your marriage -- all in less than 30 seconds.

Cheerleading is a short, spontaneous, third-party endorsement, or, as we like to call it, a rave review. It is the art of building one person up by saying something positive about them that is honest, sincere and affirming to a third-party. In 30 seconds or less, the listener's fears are dramatically reduced because someone else is giving them an unscripted testimonial. It breaks down the fear barriers and starts building trust.

Here is a personal example of how cheerleading can work: Last winter I decided to visit a doctor in Chicago to get help on a long-standing health problem. Based on my past experiences, I was not very optimistic. In short, I was feeling exactly like many of your clients are feeling when they visit with you for the first time -- discouraged, skeptical and very low on the trust scale.

Shortly after meeting with Dr. G, I was asked to schedule a phone interview with her chief dietitian, Mark. During the first call with Mark, he spontaneously stated: "You are going to love working with Dr. G. She is the best endocrinologist in the Midwest." I almost laughed out loud, because I knew he was being her cheerleader. But it worked, because he managed to come across as truly believing Dr. G is the best physician in this area. It was clear he was very happy to give me a personal testimony to support his belief.

The result? Before the conversation I was at a two on the trust scale of 10. One little sentence from Mark, and I could feel my discouragement and skepticism disappear as my trust level moved into the six range. Yes, Dr. G would still have to prove herself to me, but my heart and mind were much more open to taking her advice.

This is the state we want all of our clients to be in. The trust level is so high -- at least a seven -- that their hearts and minds are open to hearing what you have to say. This is a great start to your sales process. Just follow a few simple guidelines:
  • Never say something unless you truly believe it. Make sure it is honest, true and from the heart.

  • Practice your cheerleading on others before you expect others to be cheerleaders toward you. Practice on your spouse -- they will love it and it can really strengthen your relationship!

  • Cheerleading should never sound scripted. It is best spontaneous.
A great way to get your employees cheerleading for you is for you to start cheerleading for them. Show them that you have confidence in them. You can increase your clients' trust in your office, boost your employees' self-confidence and free up your time. To get your spontaneous creative juices flowing, here are some samples that show how much confidence you have in your support team:
  • "Paul, you are going to love working with my Client Service Manager, Jim. His job is to make sure all of your affairs are handled in a timely manner. Jim does not let anything fall through the cracks! In fact, most of our clients would rather talk to him than me!"

  • "Frank, you are going to enjoy working with Jim. We are so lucky to have him in our firm. He is one of the best estate planning attorneys in town."

  • "Bonnie, let me introduce you to my assistant, Jim -- the real brains in our organization. Jim makes sure everything runs smoothly here, including all of your transactions. He has been with me for years and I couldn't do anything without him."
Once you get comfortable with this, and your family and staff have heard you cheerlead for them, it's time to ask them if they will cheerlead for you.

One of our advisory clients was a large financial planning firm that was so big there were at least four people in the marketing department and two receptionists. I tested out all of our marketing and sales processes there by working directly with their investor clients as a financial advisor. Before I started working directly with their investors, we spent time teaching the marketing department about cheerleading. These were the kind of things the marketing folks would say on the telephone to a new prospect who was calling in to meet with me as their financial advisor for the first time:
  • "We are so lucky to have Katherine here. She is a nationally known CFP, was on the CFP Board of Ethics and is one of the best planners in the industry."

  • My own personal assistant might say: "I am so glad you are coming in to meet Katherine. She is such a great boss that I know you are going to find her to be a great advisor, too."
The difference these 30-second commercials made in my sales process was most notable when the prospects walked into my office. Now they had not even heard of me before they called the office to schedule an appointment with the big cheese -- the chief rainmaker at this large advisory firm. The staff was taught to use the cheerleading message to have them book an appointment with me, rather than the big guy. But after hearing this great cheerleading message, the prospects were actually looking forward to meeting me. They weren't cold leads any more -- they were moving from warm to hot. I found my closing ratio went through the roof, more than 90 percent! Sales were much easier than they had ever been before because the client was warm, not cold, and their hearts and minds were open to me helping them.

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