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

20. Be smart about email subject lines.

In the maze of corporate America, it’s sometimes difficult to get a decision-maker on the phone. If a gatekeeper or assistant tells you that the best way to reach a particular prospect is by email, by all means send one. To maximize your chance of a response, make sure you have an attention-grabbing subject line. Go to the newsstand and look at some magazine headlines. Use them as a model for your own. Also, choose subject lines that ask questions or include the prospect’s name. If you have a referral, put the referrer’s name in the subject line (i.e., “Jane Jones recommended I contact you”).

— Wendy Weiss, President, ColdCallingResults.com

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19. Revamp your lead magnets.

Offering free whitepapers to generate leads is not a new tactic. Internet marketers have been giving away freebies to collect contact information for years, and it can still be an effective way to add new prospects to your pipeline. Advisors, however, should not underestimate the importance of a whitepaper’s content. A whitepaper could be your first chance to share your expertise and insights with a prospect, so in some ways it’s like the meeting before your first meeting. You could blow your prospects away with actionable advice that speaks to your credibility and value as an advisor, or you could shortcut your whitepaper development with a bunch of useless fluff. Unfortunately, downloading a whitepaper only to discover that it just doesn’t live up to the hype is all too common. If you pursue a whitepaper tactic, do it right, even if it means hiring a writer to help. This whitepaper could be your first impression, so make it count!

— John Pojeta, Vice President of Business Development, The PT Services Group

 

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18. Find the right seminar topic.

Finding the right seminar topic will contribute to 90 percent of your success, from the first meeting all the way to your prospect becoming a client. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Reflect and write down what you love talking about and teaching to your clients. Passion is powerful; we should sincerely enjoy every opportunity we have to share our knowledge with those who are seeking it.
  2. Go to your clients or a client advisor board and ask them what their friends are concerned about in their financial lives. You might be surprised to find out how many great ideas are not being used in the seminar marketplace that your clients will tell you about.
  3. Search the Internet and find the current topics your target audience wants to learn about. There are many sources, but the two I like are Facebook and Twitter, because of the analytics and real-time data.
  4. Reverse the order by doing the research and then taking a list of topics to your clients or client advisor board and asking them to rank what they believe their friends would want to learn about. You can even ask them to take a week or so. Go to these friends to find out exactly what they want to learn, and rank the topics.

Jason Jenkins, Co-founder and Partner, Jenkins Wealth Management

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17.  Engage, don’t sell.

The way you word and present your referral requests is critical. Here’s an example: A large insurance agency was smart enough to touch base with their customers and ask why they were not referring friends. They learned that customers felt the referral program was a marketing gimmick. They felt odd about sharing something for a freebie. With this information, the company re-launched the program showcasing tips from actual customers on how they manage their insurance needs. They asked their customers to share this with their friends. The program was a raging success and the company later thanked each customer with a gift as a token of appreciation. They spread the word and established loyalty.

— Vinay Murthy, Vice President, Business Development, KnownCircle / SocialTwist 

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16. Choose your words carefully.

The single biggest problem in corporate America is distance from customer. Your language can lessen the gap. Words that tested well two years ago, like “certified,” no longer have quite the same impact. “Exceptional,” “extraordinary,” “excellence” all tested well in 2015 — they are not overused or hackneyed. “Forward thinking,” “innovative,” “visionary,” and “creative” are also impactful.

In contrast, “groundbreaking” is an example of a word to lose.

Other words recommended as carrying business currency in our times include

“A lifetime of;” “the cost of everyday life;” “no excuses;” “real/genuine/authentic;” “setting priorities;” “our mission/commitment;” and “the simple truth.”

— Frank Luntz, Luntz Global

 

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15. Make your emails readable.

Write like you talk. When you talk, you use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs. Make most sentences active, not passive voice.

You would never say: “Reclining on the floor covering is a Felis domesticus.” You would say: “The cat is on the mat.”

If you wouldn’t say it, don’t write it either.

This advice is all well and good. But how do you know if your writing is readable? Answer: You ALWAYS run “Readability statistics” every time you spell-check an email, which, of course, you always do. It’s a little program buried in MS Word and Outlook. Sounds exciting, doesn’t it?

It should! If your clients and prospects struggle with your prose and don’t read it, you wasted your time and theirs.

It won’t make you a great writer. It will make you a readable writer. (For instructions on how to enable Readability statistics in Outlook and Word, Google: “Enable readability in Outlook 2013.” The first doc that comes up will give you instructions for Outlook and Word, both 2010 and 2013.)

Go ahead. Select some text in an email or Word doc. Choose F7 to do the usual spell-check. When you are done with spell-check, now for the good part, up pop your “Readability statistics.”

— Bill Good, Chairman, Bill Good Marketing

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14. Join a golf club.

So many people look forward to playing golf in retirement. Clubs are everywhere. Developments are built around them. They are a social hub too. You don’t need to play golf to belong.

Action Step: Pick a club and join. Ideally it’s exclusive and expensive. The club you join says a lot about you in these parts. And if you don’t play golf and don’t care to learn, use it as a clubhouse.

— Bryce Sanders, President, Perceptive Business Solutions, Inc.

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13. Know the five principles of communication.

Trust me when I say that no one is “a natural” at speaking and presenting; even the best of the best think about it and work at it. So whether you’re pretty close to the pro level or still an amateur, you can adopt and adapt the basic tenets here and begin to move the dial on your performance, right away.

Below are five fundamental principles of communication that will give you the confidence to know that you’re “doing it right,” and it will give your audience the impression that you’re an all-star.

The five principles are:

  • Audience-centricity
  • Transparency
  • Graciousness
  • Brevity
  • Preparedness

Taken together, they send two really important messages about you to your audience:

1) That you care about and respect them

2) That you’re real and therefore credible and trustworthy

—   Beth Noymer Levine, President and Co-Founder, SmartMouth Communications

 

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12. Know when (and how) to ask for referrals.

The secret to asking for referrals more frequently is not just in knowing how to ask for referrals, it’s knowing how and when to back out of the conversation in a confident and dignified manner. We’ve found that when people know when and how to back off from their referral request, they have the confidence and courage to ask more often. Knowing how to back off in a professional manner will not only keep the relationship on good terms, it will often make the relationship a little bit stronger.

Let me ask you this: Have you ever been on an appointment and asked for referrals, gotten a negative response from the client and ended the meeting on an awkward note? Not a good feeling is it? Do that a few times and you’ll definitely stop asking for referrals. Knowing when and how to back off can make all the difference in the world for you (not to mention your clients).

Here’s my simple rule of thumb. You ask for referrals. If you get a little resistance or concern on the part of your client, your instinct should guide you to explore their perspective. Be genuinely curious by what they really mean by their uncertainty. Sometimes you will learn that their perspective contains unfounded fears that you can alleviate. But you must hear them out first, before you share your perspective. If at any point in this conversation you hear a second objection, they repeat their first objection, or their body language or tone changes is, it’s time to back off. You can’t push them for referrals. If you do, then you run the risk of hurting the relationship or, at least, hurting the chances for referrals later. So, two pieces of concern or resistance and you’re out of there!

Bill Cates, Founder, The Referral Coach Academy

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11. Build and maintain trust with your clients.

Building trust takes time and can be lost in a split second. If people trust you, you will sell more. If you abuse that trust, you will not only sell less, but you will damage your reputation. Trust is built through the first call over the next twenty years.  Don’t think in 90 day increments, think in 5 year increments.  When you take the long term view, you deepen that trust and help both parties.  Trust leads to repeat sales.  Who doesn’t like repeat sales?

— John Richard Pierce, Jr., author of ‘Sell More and Sleep at Night’

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