Today we are going to look at the secrets of a successful sales interview, a process that begins with what you believe. But even if you believe with all your heart that what we do can change a life, you can still struggle.
So why does one advisor have interview after interview, making an occasional sale, but struggles, while another writes case after case, seemingly selling to everyone he or she meets?
Here’s the difference–and it is counterintuitive. The one who gets the business knows how to say no. In other words, before you meet with a prospect, you should already have determined whether he or she is a qualified prospect. If the prospect is not, you will politely refuse an appointment.
Qualified prospects have five attributes:
(1) They must be willing to meet with you on a favorable basis.
(2) They must have a need for your products or services.
(3) They must have the money to invest in your products or services.
(4) They must have a sense of urgency.
(5) They must be confident that you can help them.
If prospects fail in any one area, then they are not qualified and you proceed at your peril.
Now let’s examine how each stage of the sales process–Approach, Problem, Solution, and Decision–works. In my experience, the best time to meet a person is when a triggering event occurs. Until prospective clients are convinced they have a problem, you will never get much beyond hello until they see you as the one who can provide a solution to their challenge.
A triggering event is any event that occurs in a person’s life that makes the individual realize that he or she needs help. It may be the death of a loved one, the birth of a child, a career or business change, the purchase of property, the writing of a will or trust, a divorce or marriage. The more time you spend in the Approach stage, the better chance you have of uncovering a triggering event.
Focus on determining whether a prospect is qualified. Does the prospect have a need? Can you see the prospect on a favorable basis? Does the prospect have money to invest in your products or services? Is anything keeping the prospect from working with you?
Often, the big producer will determine if a prospect is qualified when making initial contact on the phone, but often qualifying occurs in the first face-to-face interview. Either way, if the prospect is not qualified, you need to know how to honorably refuse.
An honorable refusal is a polite way to tell the prospect that he or she is not qualified. A refusal should never be condescending or flat, nor should it be absolute. Leave the prospect with a remnant of hope that maybe one day you might be able to do business.
Let’s assume that Mr. and Mrs. Smith have been referred to you by an existing client. The first thing to do is to ask the client to call Mr. and Mrs. Smith and ask them if they would object to talking to you about their current economic situation. This is critical: If you cannot see this client on a favorable basis, you’re wasting your time.
Then get as much information about the Smith family from the referrer as you can to determine whether the prospect is qualified. A referral of this nature establishes your credibility with both the referrer and the prospect.
Once you have information, call the prospect. Your goal at this stage is twofold: first, to determine that the prospect has a need; and second, to ascertain that the prospect would not object to meeting with you.
This requires three things:
1. Careful preparation