Opportunities abound during the recession

By Jacques Werth

High Probability Selling

My first mentor

One of the most successful businessmen I ever met was William Auer, then the president of one of the twenty largest savings banks in America. I was 16 years old working as a short-order cook after school and on weekends. I made Bill breakfast every Sunday for three years. He graduated college before the start of the Great Depression, and when the market collapsed in 1929, he was working in a large commercial bank as a junior loan officer and, like hundreds of others, was fired. Despite his situation, he was not discouraged because in college, he had learned that every major business change has presented abundant opportunities to prosper.

His family controlled a small savings bank in Brooklyn, New York, and Bill went to work as a teller in his father's bank. However, their bank was in trouble; new deposits were rapidly decreasing and many of their mortgage loans were not being paid down. In those days, a savings account could be opened with a $10 deposit. Thereafter, you could make deposits at a minimum of $1.

Bill told his father that they had to change the name of their bank immediately. The bank's name soon became the "Dime Savings Bank." Their new policy was that you could open and account with 10¢ and you could make deposits of10¢ or more. Bill and his father knew that their cost of opening a new account and giving the depositor a pass book was about $3, but they gambled on the expectation that most of the people who opened accounts would continue to build their deposits.

They got so many new depositors who deposited more and more into their accounts, that within a year they had opened two more branches in Brooklyn. In another year they also had branches in Manhattan, the Bronx and Queens. When the Depression ended, the Dime Savings Bank was one of the largest in America. Bill had found an opportunity to succeed during the Depression.

Are you still doing business as usual?

As you know, the world of finance has changed dramatically in the past several months. While the recession has turned the flow of business we experienced last year to a mere trickle, new business opportunities abound in today's market. If you haven't thought it through and started to make changes in how you are approaching your market, you may be in for a hard time. I have heard and read expectations of doom and gloom from too many financial services pros who should know better.

Sales opportunities are abundant

Many people still need to invest for all sorts of reasons. A number of Americans still want the protections of life insurance, disability or long term care insurance. Opportunities abound, but not if you are still approaching prospects with the same themes and in the same ways that you did last year. What most investment prospects want now is safety with a better rate of return than they are getting currently. Most people want something simple that they can completely understand, and they want to buy it from someone they trust and respect. Therefore, it is very important to learn how to be the person that most prospects trust and respect almost immediately.

Prospecting in the recession

While there are plenty of prospects who want what you have to offer, there certainly aren't as many as there were last year. So, how do you find them?

This is not the time to get prospects interested in all of the ways that you can help them. It is far more effective to contact a large number of prospects in a short period of time in order to find those who want the services you have to offer.

Trying to convince people to do anything they don't already want to do is too difficult during a recession. Good conversations with interested prospects take too much time for too few sales. This is the time to find those people who already know they want to improve their financial situations. That means calling a very high number of targeted prospects in a very short time. Calling the same prospecting list frequently, without persuasion or pressure, results in favorable front-of- mind awareness. Prospects buy in their own time, and for their own reasons. Some will be ready immediately, and some will be ready later. Either way, with this system, your chances of getting their business is very good.

Remember, most prospects make up their minds about you in the first twenty seconds of your call. Therefore, you must get your offer across in less than 20 seconds, which makes for very efficient and effective prospecting. It's typical to be able to contact 25 to 30 prospects in a three-hour prospecting session. Properly designed prospecting offers an effective sales process that will result in more sales in less time.

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