Jordan Belfort entered mainstream public consciousness with the box-office-busting Wolf of Wall Street. His vices and unscrupulous behavior aside, Belfort was undeniably a juggernaut of sales technique. At the close of the movie, Belfort hosts a post-prison sales seminar in Australia. He pulls a pen from his pocket, walks to an audience member, hands over the pen and says, “Sell me this pen.”
The audience member looks at the pen and says, “Oh, well, this is a nice pen…” and goes on to start describing more features of the pen, trying to make it sound great. Belfort yanks the pen back and moves to the next person. And on, and on and on.
This scene illustrates the pitfall that many salespeople — advisors included — fall into: They fixate on what makes their products great, and everything else disappears into the background. They become one of those audience members who looks down at the pen in their hands and ignores every factor around them: the person they’re selling to, the room they’re in, and the dozens of hungry salespeople right next to them waiting to get their shot at selling that pen.
We fall into this trap because it’s comfortable. We know our products and services, and it’s easier to focus the conversation on that familiar ground. Real growth — that explosive exponential growth that rockets your business to an entirely new level — requires discomfort. You have to get away from selling a pen.
1. Look at the big picture
How much did you grow in the past 12 months? What’s your growth goal for the next 12 months? What needs to change to make this happen? Change is the key word here. If you do the same old thing, you will get the same old results.
2. Evaluate your skills
Achieving explosive growth typically means looking beyond referrals for new business opportunities. Are your skills up to the challenge? Do you have a process for engaging a cold prospect and how sharp is that process? If you’re out of practice — which is actually pretty normal — you might need to brush up with a sales coach and give yourself some runway to get back into the swing of closing these types of opportunities.
3. Review your backend
If you’re going to inject a new stream of cold prospects into your pipeline, you should have a backend process in place for nurturing those opportunities — typically some sort of drip system that mixes email with more personal touches like follow-up calls and maybe even webinars. Closing a cold prospect can take time, and you should have a plan for how you’re going to approach a longer sales cycle.
4. Get in front of new prospects
You can accomplish this in a number of ways, but the key here is that you actually do it. Just because your plan says that you will find new opportunities doesn’t mean you actually will. So what will you actually do? Will you cold call business owners who match your criteria? Will you run ads to generate leads? Will you establish a new partnership and co-host webinars and seminars? Or will you admit to yourself that you probably won’t cold call anyone so you should look into hiring an appointment-setting firm? You won’t actually grow if you don’t step outside of your bubble to find opportunities.
5. Stop selling pens
Your approach should set you apart from every other advisor who has talked to your prospect. If you fall back into the routine of describing products and features, your prospect will likely tune out. You need to be different. That doesn’t mean being disingenuous. Instead, it means finding what makes you stand out and leveraging that in your sales process.
Explosive growth is possible, but you can’t use the same old approach. Revitalize and step outside your comfort zone to capture new opportunities.
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