There’s an old (somewhat paradoxical) adage that prevails in the sales industry: don’t come off as “sales-y.” Whether it’s legitimate or not, the stereotype that sales professionals have “ulterior” motives makes it difficult to develop a genuine trust with prospects and potential clients. Because financial advisors must use traditional “sales” tactics to acquire clients, such as cold calling, they, too, fall into the stereotypical category of “sales”-people. So how can financial advisors shift the conversation and become a trusted “advisor” rather than a scheming salesman? Here are three tried-and-true strategies:
- Nix the script. When it comes to cold calling, statistics suggest that you’ll get the customer’s voicemail over 50 percent of the time (depending on the target demographic). Based on the situation, you may or may not leave a message. Regardless of how you contact and correspond with your prospects, it’s important to sound natural, conversational and unscripted. The worst thing you can do is sound like an amateur trying to pound out calls to reach quota. My recommendation is to create a permeable script that you can personalize for each individual. Let’s face it: finances are personal, not static. Your attitude should reflect this.
- Introduce humor into the equation. If used appropriately, humor is a great tool for breaking the ice and earning trust with prospects. Who doesn’t like a good laugh, right? As a financial advisor, the best thing you can do is “feel” out the prospect and somewhat mirror their communication style. If they’re relaxed and comfortable, it may be beneficial to toss in a few humorous lines. If they’re more stern, conservative or visibly uncomfortable, it’s probably best to hold back until they develop more comfort.
- Be honest and realistic. Ultimately, sales are about relationships. Anyone who has worked in sales knows that a lot of selling is done over happy hour and on the golf course. You may not always have the luxury of enticing the customer with a sizzling sirloin steak or a round of 18 — but you must somehow develop that trust. As strange as it may sound, one thing that is conducive to your efforts is conceding to the client when your product might not be the best fit: “Well, I’ll tell you what, John, I am not as well versed in taxes as my partner Larry, so he might be better suited to help you on this specific area. Let’s set up a time to meet where we can take a look at your portfolio and see if there are any improvements we could make.”
Customers are sick and tired of salespeople telling them that their products or services are the best in every way imaginable. Using simple logic, if that were truly the case, then almost everyone is lying. It’s difficult for the customer to determine who to listen to and who to trust. This is why most prospective clients are going to have a pre-conceived notion that what you’re trying to sell them is too good to be true and inevitably they’re going to be asking themselves, what’s the catch? So be honest. Tell them why it isn’t. Your prospective client will find it refreshing that you don’t sound like a typical salesperson.
When it comes to earning the trust of prospects and leads, there are many theories and strategies that one could utilize. But genuineness, humor and honesty are among the most valuable virtues in the sales and consulting toolbox. How do you earn the trust of prospect?