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Do your homework to discover client needs

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Happy New Year. I hope you all had a fantastic 2007. It’s now time to kick off 2008. There’s no better way to kick it off than to continue our sales program and talk about more ways to help our clients.

The next step in creating help for the client is to build sales acceptance and demonstrate your company’s experience, which are important to clients. They want to know facts about who you are and what is their benefit.

So what if you work with a large national insurer or you’ve been with a big company, whether it’s a big brokerage house or a big FMO? The bottom line is you need to talk about the facts: “My company has been around for 25 years.” The benefit to the client: “I have seen all manner of things.”

Same thing is said with sales person expertise. They need to know more specifically about you. What makes you unique in your field and what types of experiences you encompass? What kind of education and/or ongoing training do you have? This is where people want to know that you deal in their specific needs and wants. This is where you want to build up the part that you are an expert in a specific area.

When I go around the country and do speaking engagements with broker-dealers or mutual fund companies, one of the things I talk about is how high-end sales people typically have a unique selling proposition, or USP as they call it. These are the top 1 percent of sales people that make $1 million a year or more. They sell who they are, what they do, and how they do it. This is where you need to write down some stats about yourself, the company that you work with, what’s important to the client, and how is it a benefit.

Your homework assignment, and it’s important that you actually do this homework assignment, is to actually figure out about six to 12 things that are truly important to a client. Include some facts about you, your company, and companies you work for. Try to live by these words. Anytime you say a fact or discuss a feature of a product, there must also be a corresponding benefit given for the client. So sit down and write out a few things about yourself. Not only personal things so people can relate to you, but charitable work and how you are involved in your community. Provide details of what your level of expertise is in multigenerational IRA planning and estate planning; dealing with retirees and whether they’re seniors or boomers or whomever.

I do a lot speaking in my community and like to consider myself a retirement income specialist. That’s what I do. It’s all about retirement and it’s all about income planning. So try to define your niche and then make sure that you are an expert in that niche. Again, write down a personal fact that will be a benefit to the client. Once you can tie all these benefits and facts together, you’re well on the way to building a strong rapport and lasting confidence with your clients.

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