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

40. Challenge your prospects.

“Everyone thinks that their story sets them apart when really they end up rehashing the same old proof points like having a ‘laser focus’ on customer service or providing the ‘best value’ for clients. If you talk about yourself the way your competitors talk about themselves, your voice will get lost.

Very early in your sales process, you should share an insight with your prospect that reveals an opportunity or problem he or she had not considered. Ideally, this is insight should challenge your prospect to think differently about their needs and their business.

The good news is that these two elements support each other. If you put some thought into what impactful insight you can deliver to a prospect, your brand personality as an advisor will shine through. If you are excited and passionate about this insight, it’s only natural that more of what makes you different from your competitors will begin to reveal itself.

If you haven’t plotted out your story as it relates to your sales process (or perhaps tried and failed before), working backward from your teachable moment might help you reenergize your sales process.”

— John Pojeta, VP of Business Development, The PT Services Group


39. Master referral conversations

“After you are providing excellent service to your existing clients, you can take the step to ask for referrals on a regular basis. Asking for referrals is not as simple as just asking. You need to incorporate finesse in the way you ask. One way to do this is to master referral conversations.

Sixty-five percent of high income wealth managers ask clients for referrals an average of FOUR times annually.

Having a script doesn’t mean you should recite it like a robot. Using a script just helps you to practice asking in a natural manner that is authentic for you. Practice makes perfect. When you practice and the opportunity presents itself, you will be MORE POLISHED.”

— Suzanne Muusers, a professional coach helping finance industry professionals growth their skills

38. Simplify your message.

“I talk a lot at colleges because I think that audience is a really important audience for us. If we’re failing them, we’ll fail across a wide range of audiences. When I started reading the news — after 9/11 is when I began to pay attention — for a long time I only understood 45 percent of every article. There was so much encoded around what it meant to say ‘Senate minority leader Tom Daschle.’ I just didn’t have associations with that. After a couple of months, I got up to 55 percent, and after a year 65 percent.

It’s very frustrating to feel that dumb. So that’s a real sweet spot for us. Now we have this thing I can put inside every story that tells them everything they want to know.”

— Ezra Klein, Founder of Vox.com

37. Seek out community organizations for a knowledgeable speaker — and have fun.

“The most important marketing tool I used as an advisor was giving seminars or workshops. I would work with an organization that people trusted, like a church or synagogue, to sponsor these workshops. It was always an educational event — I wasn’t selling my services. But at the end of each event, people would approach me wanting to become clients.

Public libraries, lifelong learning centers, garden clubs and the like are always searching for speakers. Look for places where your target clients congregate.

Such outreach can also be fun. I used to host events in my own home called ‘Sunday afternoon soirées’ with hors d’oeuvres and dessert. I invited my female clients, and they were invited to bring friends. We once talked about ‘fashion, food, fun and finance’: different ways to tie scarves and how to not get your finances in a knot! 

As a specialist in money psychology, I’ve spoken at a variety of appreciation events with advisors’ clients, friends and relatives as the audience. In my experience, an advisor who makes the effort to educate and entertain current and potential clients with a special event, an active program of blog posts or YouTube videos is emphasizing how much he or she values their trust and goodwill. That sends a warm ‘Welcome!’ message to prospects.”

— Kathleen Rehl, Founder, Rehl WEALTH Collaborations

36. Find group health prospects.

“One way to sell group health insurance is to learn whether enough employees are unhappy with their current group health insurance program. If they are, use the information to get a face-to-face meeting with that company’s decision maker.”

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

35. Never go into a sales call not knowing how you’re going to close the sale.

“If you don’t know where you’re going, then how will you get there? The most common part left out of any presentation is the close. Plan for it upfront by developing the strategy and your course of action.

This does not mean you’re only going to use one type of closing technique. On the contrary, it means you’re going to be ready to close using several different techniques based on what the customer tells you.”

— Mark Hunter, keynote speaker and sales trainer


34. Have a clear message.

“When pitching do not use complicated diction. Pride yourself instead on being able to explain the concept as quickly, clearly and simply as possible. This is important because the biggest problem in sales is client confusion. Confusion does not lead to a ‘Yes’.”

— Tom Szaky, CEO and found of TerraCycle

33. Get disability insurance prospects’ attention.

“The disability income approach is the easiest of all. You can get immediate attention with one key question: ‘Do you have a source of tax-free income when you are sick or hurt?’”

— V.L. Hooper, vice president of Southland Life of Dallas, in the Nov. 29, 1975, issue of National Underwriter Life & Health


32. Anticipate the future of content marketing.

“… Brands are increasingly investing in digital content to the tune of $135 billion. But, just because a company is acting on an opportunity doesn’t mean they’re taking full advantage of it — according to BrightEdge research, 59 percent of content marketers say that their budgets aren’t aligned with performance. To truly rise above the noise, content marketers must run their programs by the numbers.”

— Jim Yu, CEO and founder of BrightEdge 


31. Talk about taxes.

“When you’re offering individual medical coverage to low-income and moderate-income people, talk about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) premium tax credit. Don’t assume they’ve heard of it. 

Six in 10 [uninsured people] are confused or have not hear about tax credits.”

— Enroll America and Get Covered America webinar slidedeck, November 2015

 

Check out 2016′s best sales and marketing ideas 41 – 50 here and for all 2016 ideas, go here.

 

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