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100 best sales & marketing ideas: 81-90

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Editor’s Note: This is the second in a ten-part series identifying the best sales techniques for 2015. To view the rest of the series, click here.

90. Educate, don’t sell.

Looking to work with more thoughtful, respectful, higher-net worth clients? Don’t sell them anything, instead educate them. Consider the very best celebrity chefs; they give their audience their very best cooking secrets. Only after they educate do they sell cookbooks, cooking tools. and dinners at their restaurants. Be a celebrity chef in your business. Host various education sessions in your office, at the library, or at a restaurant with the sole purpose of offering your expertise on areas that your desired client will find helpful. Once the value has been delivered to them, and a relationship established, then ask them to consider a meeting with you to discuss how to apply what they’ve learned to their personal situation. This approach changes everything, and your business will never be the same. 

Adam Cufr, RICP®, Principal, Retirement Income Certified Professional®, Author of OFF THE RECORD

s89. Make those calls

Making those dreaded sales calls are heart-pumping, gut wrenching tasks that most people are incapable of executing well. There are two reasons that making phone calls to referrals or even to cool prospects are difficult. Either the mindset is wrong or the preparation is wrong, or both. The mindset is simple. Each time you pick up the phone, think of the person on the phone as a friend. How would you call a friend? It would be with sincere energy. You would anticipate talking to your friend with mild excitement. The attitude is “Hi, John, how is your day going?” Of course, you have to introduce yourself, but your tone and energy needs to be very friendly. Mostly, your natural state of mind must be “I’m just calling a friend.” Also, your life doesn’t depend on the outcome. Don’t sweat the rejection. There are tons of prospects.

Subject preparation is extremely important so you can talk intelligently and at length about the purpose of the call. Don’t be afraid of details. People don’t like evasive salespeople.

This is basic stuff, but the basics are where most people fail. Put together these two pieces and the phone will be your best friend.

— Kim Magdalein, Owner,



88. Be sure the user experience is outstanding.

Often the emphasis in sales and marketing is on acquiring new customers. But it’s just as important to ensure those customers will remain satisfied once they’re onboard. Otherwise you’ll constantly be grinding through customers and treading water instead of advancing your business.

The availability of a great online self-service portal can be a difference-maker in building return business. The portal should offer a user experience that offers the same quality members have come to expect from other online experiences, such as retail sites and telco companies. The site should be mobile-friendly, and capable of allowing members to obtain information and get instant answers to questions about deductibles, claims and other areas. A great portal can also be a huge selling advantage when compared to the hassle of sending paper forms through the mail, making you look ahead of the curve rather than behind it. 

— Christine Rudella, Director of Marketing, SKYGEN USA

s87. Start a meaningful conversation.

After introducing yourself, ask questions. Lots of them! But don’t ask questions just for the sake of asking questions. Ask those you meet questions that you would want asked of you. What kind of work do you do? Do you like what you do? Why? How did you learn of this event? What part of your marketing is working best for you? Do you have a target market? How do you get your prospects? How would I know if I meet a prospect for you? How can I help you? These are just a few to get you started. Tailor them to your style. Ideally, after answering your questions, you want them to respond with, “How about yourself?”

— Michael Goldberg, Speaker, Author, Consultant, Boxer, president, Knock Out Networking

s86. When people laugh, they buy.

Get them to laugh and a client is far more likely to do business with you. The best way to make them laugh is to poke a little fun at yourself. It frees them up to laugh with you, and it says “I’m far from perfect … just like everyone else.” If you think there is nothing funny about you, then ask a close friend and they will give you a long list of humorous qualities. This can be a great exercise in humility, too! Our industry can be intimidating to a client and they can feel inferior in spite of our best efforts, so loosening them up at our own expense is priceless!

— Shawn Meaike, President & Founder of Family First Life

;85. Stop trying to sell Cadillac long-term care insurance (LTCI) plans.

For 20 years, AHIP studies have shown that the No. 1 reason clients don’t buy insurance is because the premiums are too high. Fully-loaded LTCI policies have become too expensive. Showing clients a comprehensive plan with all the bells and whistles tends to give them sticker shock, and they’ll refuse to act. Recent consumer research also shows that clients are willing to buy coverage, as long as premiums are between $75-$150 a month. That will buy most people a really good base plan. Start low, showing monthly premiums that hit those price points, and get the client’s buy-in. Then, you can discuss adding riders that might be appropriate. Even if they don’t add on to the base coverage, they are still better off with a plan that covers part of the risk than having no coverage at all.

— Deb Newman, Founder, Newman Long Term Care

s84. Utilize LinkedIn

There’s more to the business social media platform than networking with old friends and colleagues. Members can customize their profiles to showcase company videos, highlight their endorsements and recommendations (read: easy referrals) and provide links to other publications. LinkedIn also offers free, customized URLs, which help members show up more easily in Google search results — this is especially handy if someone loses your business card, but remembers your name. And, if you’re not using LinkedIn’s group pages, you should start. LinkedIn groups allow you to connect with other professionals, ask questions, assert yourself as an authoritative source, and share information, including your blog (thus increasing your website traffic). Basically, LinkedIn is a giant, free billboard for you and your business.

— Kelly Moser, Social Media Strategist, Disability Insurance Services


83. Define your perfect prospect.

Every advisor/producer struggles to answer a common question: “How can I get in front of more prospects?”  I’m here to tell you that buying a list, feeding a room, and hoping that you are talking to someone who needs to hear your message is an extraordinarily inefficient way to go about accelerating the success of your practice.  It can happen; it’s just expensive. Ever tried to grow your practice by just asking for referrals? If that was working, you wouldn’t be reading this. 

So here’s my golden sales tip: Define your perfect prospect as clearly as you can see your face in a mirror. Know exactly what they want and exactly when they need it. Then find the person in their lives from whom they and everyone like them takes advice. Introduce yourself to that person and “bam!”  You will find yourself almost immediately in front of an audience of your perfect prospects exactly when they need what you have.

What I’ve just described is the world of college planning. My audience comes to me almost exclusively by referral from a guidance counselor, coach, scout leader, church youth group pastor, CPA or other authority figure. When they are referred to me I know their children are going off to college on a particular date, not when the 529 is big enough or not when they can afford it or any other time. I know the problem of how to pay for college is one that keeps them up at night in light of the condition of their retirement funding, bills, cash flow, and other financial concerns. And if I can show them how to properly integrate their goals and provide a plan for what they recognize is an immediate and daunting problem … then the prospect to client conversion is swift. 

— Andy Hickman, Principal, The Cumulus Group

s82. Truly connect with the prospect.

This involves being present and genuinely interested in the other person. Ask open-ended questions, maintain eye contact and be a good listener. Don’t think about what you are going to say next — just be present.

— Herb White, President, Life Certain Wealth Strategies

l81. Send to voicemail

Do not take UNSCHEDULED phone calls: I started doing this about three years ago and I’m amazed at how much more productive I am! When you answer the phone, it takes away your focus for what you are doing for someone else and then you’ll never get out of the office. It also elevates you to instant Rock Star status if people know they can only talk to you if they schedule first with your assistant.

— Susan Combs, president of Combs & Company, LLC

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a ten-part series identifying the best sales techniques for 2015. To view the rest of the series, click here.