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The most innovative sales ideas of 2016: 51-60

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

60. Perfect your closing

A lot of incredible closing techniques have been used by salespeople over the years, such as “rolling the pen” on the table toward the client or drawing up a list of pros and cons using the “Benjamin Franklin” close. Avoid these clever techniques at all costs. Try the one-line closing technique recommended by sales consultant Stephan Schiffman, “Makes sense to me — What do you think?” Then wait for a response. If the prospect has additional questions, this is when they will come out. If the prospect asks for time to think about it, be direct about your concerns without bullying. If a second appointment is really needed, book it before leaving. 

— David Weedmark, business writer and editor

59. Pay cash for customer introductions.

“If you’re ready to try a new way to reach prospects, test this approach: Visit any coffee shop where the patrons of a nearby business are prospective clients. Then approach and offer the manager $200. Have the coffee shop manager agree that you’ll pay $200 worth of coffee for the next 35-40 people that walk in. The only stipulation is that the manager allows you to: (1) say hello to the patrons; (2) tell them that the coffee is on you today; and (3) share your business card with them after they give you permission to hand them the card.

Consider: If you casually shook hands with 35-40 people in this laid-back environment, how many of these people will eventually become your client? One person? Two people? Perhaps more? I’d be willing to bet that just one new customer is worth more than $200.

Over the course of your career you probably have spent thousands of dollars on advertising and marketing. Most of it probably did not work. This does work — try it now!”

— Marvin LeBlanc LUTCF, CNP is an entrepreneur, writer and motivational speaker

58. Make some mistakes. 

“Getting started is more important than creativity. It isn’t that your clients can’t see the solution. They can’t see the problem!”

— Sidney Friedman, chairman of Corporate Financial Services, in the March 7, 1994, issue of National Underwriter Life & Health

57. “Niche down” in your content marketing.

“In your content marketing efforts, target individuals with specific problems, and build your site content around how you can help those individuals. In doing so, you’ll achieve two goals: First, you’ll have less competition. You’ll be perceived as a specialist in this niche, and your desired clients will prefer to do business with you over non-specialists. Second, more of your site visitors will convert into leads. The visitor who finds your site after searching Google for ‘life insurance for diabetics’ or ‘can I get life insurance if I’ve had a recent DUI?’ is going to be far more likely to request a quote than someone searching general terms like ‘how does life insurance work?’ or ‘what is term life insurance?’ because they’re farther along in their life insurance search.

The more you niche down in your content marketing efforts, the more you will be perceived as an expert in your particular area of specialty, and your site conversions and sales will go through the roof.”

— Chris Huntley, Director of Marketing at JRC Insurance Group

56. Know what your clients want.

“You define yourself by either what your clients want or what you believe they’ll need for the future. So: Define yourself by your client, not your competitor.

Clients say, ‘What’s your strategy,’ and I say, ‘Ask me what I believe first.’ That’s a far more enduring answer.”

Ginni Rometty, chairman, president and CEO of IBM

55. There’s strength in partnerships.

“Aside from a great product, what fuels customer satisfaction these days is experience. Give people the whole package, from placing an order to product delivery, and you’ve got them hooked for life. However, running a small niche business is usually taxing (especially for enterprises with a small staff) in itself. Marketing is not always a priority, and businesses want to keep costs low to accommodate more pressing expenses. 

Here’s where the power of experience comes into play again: Why not team up with experts to spread awareness and showcase your business’ unique selling point? 

Ride-sharing app Sidecar did this in 2014 when they partnered with famous bloggers to create a one-of-a-kind experience for their customers. Three famous bloggers were chosen to decorate three sidecars. Riders could then snap a selfie in the beautifully-themed sidecars to win a month’s worth of free rides. The campaign was a success and helped promote Sidecar as a leader in delivering unique shared riding experiences.”

— Al Gomez, founder and head of operations at

54. Be your own ultimate sales technique.

“Advisors should consider themselves their ultimate sales technique. A process of self-improvement is ultimately what generates clients — and it’s a more natural and authentic way to sell. How might you become your own best sales technique? Here are three pathways:

  • Care more about your customers. Caring is a rich and deeply human form of compassion where you truly have empathy for a person. This compels you to uncover and solve their problems.

  • Become a more knowledgeable advisor. Become a real student of retirement (un)readiness by setting up relevant Google Alerts, reading white papers and books, and signing up for knowledge-intensive webinars and workshop presentations (not sales-technique oriented sessions).

  • Shun expediency in every area of your business. Always focus on doing the right thing — the ethical thing — not the expedient thing.

By adhering to these three guidelines, you will become a magnetic advisor; people will naturally gravitate to you.”

— Steven R. McCarty, co-founder and chairman of the National Ethics Association. NEA is a membership organization of over 25,000 financial services professionals


53. Learn to listen.

“It’s so important to be a good listener. So many people think they know it all and they like hearing their own voice, but being a good listener, you can get so many other ideas from other people to work out whether your idea is a good one or not.”

– Sir Richard Branson, English businessman, investor, founder of Virgin Group 

52. Remember the calendar.

“Set a deadline. Set a time when you expect to reach your goal. Your major purpose in life should always to be measurable, specific and quantifiable. You should be able to count it and measure it, so you always know how close you are to accomplishing it.”

— Brian Tracy, of the Institute for Executive Development, in the July 14, 1986, issue of National Underwriter Life & Health

51. Create a breakfast club.

“Create an exclusive breakfast meeting and invite five of your favorite clients who have something in common (i.e entrepreneurs; CEOs; same profession). Tell them their ‘price of admission’ is to bring someone you don’t know but who shares their issues. Ask another professional to speak — someone you want as a center of influence for cross-referring opportunities. Make sure you know what the speaker will talk about. 

Have the breakfast at the nicest hotel that offers a buffet. Eat first so everyone gets comfortable with each other. Have the presentation for 30 minutes, tops. Now you’ve created a positive, close-knit experience for your best clients. You’ve met five more prospects who are just like your best clients. You’ve introduced another local professional to 10 prospects. And now you have a big IOU from that COI. Win-win-win. And not a lot of money.”

— Gail B. Goodman, president, ConsulTel. Inc., Bedford Hills, N.Y.

Check out 2016′s best sales and marketing ideas 61 – 70 here and for all 2016 ideas, go here.

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