It’s never been easy to get FAs to prospect.
“I don’t have the money.” “I don’t have the time.” “I don’t know where to start.” “Cold calling doesn’t work.” “Seminars don’t work.” “Networking takes too long.” “Compliance.” “Too many ideas.” “I need more staff.”
These are certainly good “reasons” (or excuses) not to prospect. But let’s play a hypothetical game.
Suppose you knew, without doubt or hesitation, that each hour spent prospecting would generate at least $1,000 in recurring revenue. You would sweep all the above off onto the floor and start prospecting, wouldn’t you?
(If you believe you might be suffering from Sales Skills Deficiency Disorder, feel free to download “The Good Way to Sell.” It’s a compilation of nine articles on selling, seven of them from the original “Research” magazine series. We have updated the original series and added two additional articles on our website at www.billgoodmarketing.com/goodwaytosell.)
Let’s assume I’m half wrong and that an hour of prospecting only produces $500 in recurring revenue. Does that change the conclusion? Not even a little bit! You would be on the phone or even walking door to door for $500 an hour in recurring revenue. For $1,000, you would probably be running for joy, right?
Me: So why aren’t you prospecting?
You: Prospecting doesn’t produce $1,000 an hour or even $50 per hour.
Me: Why not?
You: Not sure. It just doesn’t work.
Me: There’s more to it than that. Either your prospecting is failing, or your sales is failing. Maybe both. I have written endlessly on why your prospecting is failing. Your prospecting can be failing because of your selling skills, right?
You: I guess.
Me: If you are spending valuable time prospecting but are not convincing very many people to do business with you, you will stop prospecting.
The Real Problem with Sales
Let’s clear up whether advisors sell. Of course they do. They sell their advisory services.
So, what’s the problem with getting these sales closed? It’s rarely the close.
Failed sales presentations normally don’t close because of what’s done or not done before the close. The close is just a simple question, “Let’s get started, OK?” Or whatever.
The whole process that happens before the close is called sales.
You: OK, Bill. I’ve always heard in sales you should “always be closing.”
Me: Rubbish. That’s just another old school myth just like “Don’t believe the prospect until he or she has said ‘no’ three, six, 12 or 27 times.” Same stuff.
You: So, if sales isn’t “always be closing,” what is it?
Me: Sales is a step-by-step process intended to increase desire to own the benefits of a product or service to the point where the desire outweighs fear of change.
Sales is obviously dealing with emotion. When someone wants your product or service more than he fears losing his money, the close is easy. It’s just a gentle nudge to push him off the fence. If you cannot create the emotion, you can close all day long and never get people to do business with you.
In my opinion, the real problem today is simply this: Many advisors do not know how to sell. Until you solve sales, every prospecting campaign you launch will fair.
Me: Three reasons: Many of today’s advisors were never trained to sell. Or they were trained badly. Or for too long, they have only been dealing with pre-sold referrals. They have long since forgotten their early sales training.
If you cannot close prospects on doing business with you, you will stop prospecting. To solve prospecting, first solve selling.
The First Pothole
My first clue that the problem with prospecting was selling came from a conversation I had with a client who was giving very expensive seminars but losing money. He was very discouraged. He had arrived at that inevitable dead-end: seminars don’t work today.
I asked him, “What do you do on the first appointment?” He replied, “I use a questionnaire provided by my firm.” “Send it to me,” I said. He did. Gasp.
It was seven pages of dense financial questions. The first few pages plunged into seven tables gathering info on assets, income, and retirement savings.