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The most innovative sales ideas of 2016: 81-90

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Editor’s Note: This is the second in a ten-part series identifying the best sales techniques for 2016. To view the rest of the series, click here.

90. “So what do you do?”

“This is the number one question we all get asked on a regular basis, maybe hundreds of times a year. But these aren’t just questions — they’re ‘buying opportunities.’ And no marketing campaign on Earth can get you this huge amount of buying opportunities in so short a space of time.

So when the question arises be prepared — your answer is critically important to your business. For starters don’t simply reply “I’m a financial advisor.” That’s just ‘what you are’ not ‘what you do.’

Find an answer that resonates with that particular person’s life. Read them and work out what are their top issues. Are they approaching retirement, or could college fees be a looming milestone? Reply with something that impacts on the questioner/prospect in a way that piques their curiosity.

Smart reps market by getting inside people’s heads and finding out what they need. Create a mental picture of what you do and provide a vivid example. Be creative, respond in such a way that they ask for more.” 

— Don Connelly, co-founder of Don Connelly & Associates

89. Embrace the unknown.

“As an industry, we have a habit of fearing change. A shift in trends or a change in legislation could dramatically alter the way we do business, and that scares us.

When you see change coming on the horizon, don’t buckle down and wait it out. Attack it. Find the opportunity in your obstacles so that your businesses can be one of the first to capture newly uncovered ground. If you wait to see what everyone else will do in the face of uncertainty, you will find yourself behind the curve, trying to catch up to the advisors that had the foresight and the courage to embrace the unknown.”

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

88. Find the right email marketing strategy.

“It seems more natural to use a no-reply or some kind of generic company email, but by using a real person’s email (who is running marketing for your company), you will increase the amount of feedback you get. When you ask a question in the newsletter, people will be more willing to reply and engage with you. In addition, if they forward your email along to a friend, the friend has a more direct way of getting in touch with you. That could lead to sales or PR.” 

Salvador Briggman, Founder of

87. Manage your brand, not just your business.

“A good brand program speaks for you when you’re not there. We work with one independent advisor who travels quite a bit and runs his business from the road. We rebranded his firm, launched a new website and created a video series. He’s now able to leverage his website as a digital storefront, so he can serve clients all over the country and all over the world.

You want to make sure you have your brand positioned in the best way. Sometimes it’s as simple as updating your logo, or it might be a conversation about changing your business’s name to be more reflective of what you do.” 

— Christopher Norton, Creative Director, Blu Giant Advisor Studios

86. Build a great product or service.

“The balance of power is shifting toward consumers and away from companies…the individual is empowered… The right way to respond to this if you are a company is to put the vast majority of your energy, attention and dollars into building a great product or service and put a smaller amount into shouting about it, marketing it. If I build a great product or service, my customers will tell each other….In the old world, you devoted 30 percent of your time to building a great service and 70 percent of your time to shouting about it. In the new world, that inverts. Your brand is formed primarily, not by what your company says about itself, but what the company does.

The essence of business is the ability to cost-effectively acquire customers. The very best businesses acquire customers ‘organically’ without advertising. Great products and word of mouth drives sales at these companies. By contrast, companies which must sell their wares with huge advertising budgets are losing their edge in the Internet era. Television advertising enabled the creation of mass market advertising driven brands, but the Internet is undoing this in many cases.”

Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of, owner of The Washington Post and tech investor

85. Make your ads (and websites) work for a living.

“Stop confusing attractive advertising with effective advertising. You’re in a marketplace – not an art gallery. And good looking advertisements, like good looking people, aren’t always the hardest workers.”

— Thomas Maher, marketing columnist, in the March 6, 1982, issue of National Underwriter Life & Health

84. Tailor your outreach to your target client’s emotional needs.

“My personal quest is to help women feel confident about their finances. I’ve led money circles that create a safe space for women, both clients and non-clients, to learn about money and explore their money histories. With our existing clients, I make sure that each woman feels comfortable calling me, knows she can ask whatever is on her mind and finds understanding and encouragement when she does talk with me. 

Through efforts like these, I’m developing a reputation as a go-to advisor for women who are seeking to expand their competence and understanding about their financial lives. Instead of the shame and embarrassment that they so often experience in money matters, they find encouragement and support with me.”

— Roberta Goldbaugh, financial planner, RTD Financial Advisors

83. Create one strong branding message.

“It’s hard enough to create and communicate one branding message; however, many companies try to establish several because they want the ‘entire’ market and are afraid of being niched. ‘Our computer is for Fortune 500 companies. And, oh yes, it’s also for consumers to use at home.’ Face it, Volvo can’t equal safety (not rolling over) and sexiness, and Toyota can’t equal economical and lexuriousness {sic}. So pick one message, stick with it for at least a year if it appears promising, and then try another. But you can’t try several at once or switch every few months.

Now step back and ask yourself the $64,000 question: ‘If we don’t spend a dime on marketing, will people be aware of our brand and understand what it stands for?’ Because the real world of marketing is this: you don’t have a big marketing budget so you have to depend on people ‘creating’ your brand for you.” 

Guy Kawasaki, Silicon Valley marketing executive, author and chief brand evangelist of Canva

82. Optimize your website.

“Your website is a marketing opportunity that can’t be overlooked. It is a well-known fact that prospective clients will look for your online presence before making contact or deciding to do business with you.

Be proactive and make certain that each page of your site is up to date with correct information. Provide value through your site with articles, blogs and case studies that are fresh, engaging and resonate with your target audience.”  

— Michelle Mosher, business development/marketing/social media specialist at Ironstone

81. Recognize that many of the remaining uninsured major medical prospects are confused.

“Listen more than we talk. What are their priorities? Understand where they are… Messages need to connect them with what’s real and relevant for them and their situation. Pushing out messages to the masses is likely wasteful.” 

Enroll America and Get Covered America, November 2015

Check out 2016′s best sales and marketing ideas 91 – 100 here and for all 2016 ideas, go here.

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