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Portfolio > Economy & Markets > Fixed Income

No-worry selling — the sleep aid for sales superstars

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When was the last time you had a restful night’s sleep? Can’t remember?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 50-70 million U.S. adults have problems sleeping, leading them to wake up chronically tired and ill equipped to function at work.

Related: Quiz: How stressed are you?

But here’s what I really want to know: Does Bernie Madoff, the notorious Ponzi schemer, sleep like a baby at night?

My bet is he does, for a number of sordid reasons.

Your average financial advisor, on the other hand, is no Bernie Madoff. He’s much more likely to worry about the consequences of his actions. The resulting stress can become a distraction at work, which in turn lowers productivity, sales and income. Talk about worries!

And here’s what’s really sad. So many of these incidents are self-inflicted. Perhaps advisors accumulate too much debt in order to acquire the trappings of wealth. Or they manage their income and/or expenses sloppily. Or they just want to attend exotic sales conferences at any cost, leading them to make unsuitable annuity sales, churn investment products, or misrepresent features to serve their own needs. Or they might write insurance on phony prospects in order to pocket the commissions or convince Grandpa and Grandma to let him invest their savings … and then use their money for her own purposes.

No wonder so many advisors stare at the ceiling at 3:00 a.m., wondering where their integrity went (although maybe not in the last instance).

It gets worse. When advisors allow their ambition and greed to rule, it’s common for them to experience damaging after-effects, including client complaints, E&O insurance claims, regulatory sanctions, jail time, and worst of all, loss of self-respect. Of course, there’s a better way to avoid such problems and ensure maximum success … no-worry selling!

No-worry selling consists of a number of values that appear across the sales process, including:

    • Doing what’s right for the prospect or client, even if it’s not legally required.
    • Treating the customers with loyalty and professionalism.
    • Following all relevant regulations and laws, both national and local.
    • Putting the client’s needs ahead of your own.
    • Being committed to delivering tangible value to your customers in every transaction.
    • Being there for your prospects and clients — before, during, and after the sale.
    • Being transparent about your background, capabilities and limitations.
    • Operating under the spirit and the letter of the new Department of Labor Fiduciary standard (when it takes effect).

Advisors who aspire to no-worry selling must implement the above values into the following sales-process stages:

    • Solicitation
    • Fact-Finding
    • Closing
    • Post-Sale Service

In future columns, we’ll explore each of those areas in greater detail to see what a no-worry sales style looks like and why it leads to ultimate success. Until then, consider these suggestions for selling ethically (and sleeping like a baby at night):

    • Never get a sales meeting under false pretenses.
    • Be up front about who you are and what you’re selling.
    • Never misrepresent for whom a product is best suited or how it works.
    • Always take the long view on client relationships, i.e. never forcing sales because you want or need more income.
    • Watch for — and avoid — behaviors that benefit you more than the customer.
    • Read The Wizard of Lies by Diana B. Henriques to see the full human cost of unbridled greed.

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