Bob Burg started out broadcasting the news on radio and television. But it is the information he has imparted for 18 years now as a corporate speaker that likely has had the most impact with audiences. Indeed, whose ears wouldn’t perk up to learn “Five Laws of Stratospheric Success”?
Those five principles — including “The Law of Value” and “The Law of Influence” — are discussed in the newsman-turned-top-salesman’s newest book, Go-Givers Sell More (Portfolio 2010). The five rules were first revealed in Burg’s bestseller, The Go-Giver (Portfolio 2007), a business parable. His new book relates specifically to the selling process. Both works were co-authored with John David Mann, an entrepreneur and business writer.
Speaking for firms such as General Electric, Ash Brokerage, Wachovia and New York Life Insurance Company, Burg’s message is clear: Sales success is achieved by shifting focus from getting to giving, from “you” to the client or prospect. That is, the way to cultivate a trusting relationship is by concentrating on creating value.
Burg, 52, whose 1994 book Endless Referrals: Network Your Everyday Contacts into Sales remains a training manual for major sales organizations worldwide, left television — an Oklahoma ABC affiliate — for sales when he was in his 20s.
Selling solar-energy water heaters to homeowners, he did fabulously well but not until he began studying the systems of successful salespeople.
In Go-Givers Sell More, Burg and Mann once again turn conventional wisdom upside-down, stating, for example, “You can’t make a sale. But you can create an environment where the other person likes, trusts, respects you and believes that you have an answer to their need.”
Research recently chatted with Burg by phone at his home-base in Jupiter, Fla.
Is now a good time to be a go-giver?
Especially now. This difficult time is when you need to be a go-giver because it will be the difference maker.
Is the whole point to be a go-giver instead of a go-getter?
Absolutely not. Being a go-getter is great: Go-getters are people of action who get things done. It’s: Don’t be a go-taker. That’s the opposite of a go-giver. It’s a person who feels almost entitled to take, take, take without having added value to the relationship.
Why is creating value for others so important?
Your true worth is governed by how much more you give in value than you take in payment. Price is a dollar figure; value is the relative worth or desirability of a thing: What is it about this service that brings so much value that someone will not only exchange their hard-earned money for it but be glad they did?
How does that apply to financial advisors?
When a fee-based advisor, say, delivers so much more than what they’re charging, they make the client feel good knowing that they’re receiving a really good service. That’s the goal — to make the other person feel they’re getting a great return for the price they’re paying. And, in this case, the advisor is making a nice profit. So everybody wins!
You write that the linchpin to a salesperson’s economic future is knowing how to establish rapport. Why is that necessary in financial services?
The advisor who can’t establish rapport could be the best advisor in the world technically, but they probably aren’t going to be doing a lot of business. Rapport is the key that determines if people will do business with you and refer business to you because they like and trust you.
Trust is the most important aspect. Because of the financial crisis, right now we’re living in a “low-trust society.” So advisors are, in a sense, on the spot not only to be trustworthy — the baseline — but to communicate that trustworthiness.
Should questions an advisor asks to establish rapport double as questions to elicit information about the client’s lifestyle and goals?
With rapport, we’re not typically talking about informational prospecting-type questions that you ask to best know how to serve the client. Rapport-building questions are “feel good” questions — because that’s the idea. They make the person feel good about themselves, about you, about the conversation: “How did you get started in the so-and-so business? What do you enjoy most about what you do?”
You say the No.1 misconception is: Being good at sales means being skilled at making presentations. But aren’t effective presentations essential to successful selling?
Sales skills and product knowledge are very important, of course. You’ve got to have those just to be in the game. What separates the best producers from everyone else is their laser focus on serving the other person. This is where authenticity comes in. They genuinely feel that their mission is to provide value to the other person.
How does that translate into sales?
Clients and prospects respect the focus on serving. So chances are much more likely that you’re going to do business. Money is simply an echo of value, the thunder to value’s lightning.
Why do you say the secret to the perfect sales pitch is to have no pitch?
There’s no place for the word “pitch” in sales. Leave it out of your mind and your vocabulary. If you think about pitching a prospect, again, it’s all about you — not the other person. Go-givers don’t pitch, they serve; and that’s how they engage the prospect or client.
What’s an example of “engaging” another person?