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Get strong: How authenticity builds closing power

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Welcome to the end of our series on the new Truth Standard in financial services. In prior columns, we discussed the importance of:

  1. Never misrepresenting a competing advisor, product, or company.
  2. Never fear mongering during the sales process, especially about government benefits.

In this column, we turn our attention to the role of authenticity in implementing the Truth Standard, a process that will make you a better, stronger advisor. The opposite, of course, is appearing to be weak to your prospects (and consequently get a lot of sand kicked in your face). Here’s why that happens:

Advisors fabricate or exaggerate their credentials.

They claim to have earned credentials they don’t have or overplay the flimsy ones they do have. Or they claim to be able to sell a certain product or service without really having the required experience. Result: They leave themselves in the tenuous position of not being able to deliver on their promises. And when they fail to deliver, they lose sales to their competitors and lose the prospect’s trust.

They mask their true selves by mirroring prospects during the sales process.

For example, if a prospect espouses a political belief, the mirroring agent pretends to agree, even though he may hold the opposite opinion. Same holds true for a prospect’s social values, hobbies, etc. Result: prospects sense you aren’t authentic — that you don’t really believe what you say you believe and that there’s no “you” behind the mask.

Exaggerating and masking are ultimately counter-productive. They demonstrate that you don’t believe in yourself and so need to compensate by either pumping up your ego or pretending to be someone you’re not. You know what happens to such weaklings — someone kicks sand in their face.

Want to remain sand free? Be totally transparent about your professional background and training and communicate your authentic self at all times. Here are some pointers:

• If tempted to inflate your credentials, remind yourself that today’s empowered consumer can ferret out incredible amounts of information about you. In fact, a computer-literate senior can smoke out falsehoods in about 15 minutes on the Internet. Don’t give them that opportunity.

• Be authentic at all times. Don’t feel obligated to agree with everything a prospect says. Show your true personality and share honest opinions (within appropriate boundaries, of course).

• Finally, appoint a Chief Truth Officer (CTO) for your business. This might be your assistant, a colleague, or even you. The CTO reviews all client-facing statements in documents or presentations to assure a 100 percent statement or interaction. This function would take place before content is submitted to broker-dealers, carriers and regulatory bodies.

In short, forget about exaggerations, lies and mirroring. You’ll be amazed at how easily you can outmuscle your competitors by just being fully committed to The Truth.

For more from Steven McCarty, see:

Fear mongering: How weak advisors sell … and lose

The truth about politicians (and the rest of us)

Embrace your inner hero