As your practice matures, winning a sale means that someone has to lose.
Early on in the growth of your business, when you are first starting out, the wins can often come quickly and easily. At that stage, you are open to a wider range of client opportunities to the point of taking nearly every prospect who will answer the phone. Then you start to narrow your focus and develop a specialization that lets you target increasingly higher value prospects.
(Related: The Value of Prospects Who Don’t Close)
As the value of your prospects goes up, the volume of prospects often goes down. Where you once looked to close several prospects a month, a handful of new clients a year can become game-changers in terms of revenue because of their size and their referral potential.
While most of us understand this intuitively, we often overlook a key factor of these high-value sales: the incumbent.
A high-value prospect typically has an advisor already. In these sales, you are not simply convincing the prospect to buy from you, you are convincing the prospect to leave your competitor to work with you. It’s not a transaction. It’s a competitive takeaway. When you ignore the incumbent’s role in your sale — instead focusing solely on your ability to dazzle and impress — you miss what is potentially the most important and most impactful part the process.
The incumbent has a home-field advantage, and if you bring insights to the table without working to drive a wedge (a term I gladly borrow from a book by Randy Schwantz) between the prospect and the incumbent, the prospect will often handoff the most interesting parts of your pitch to the current advisor, asking him or her to execute on them. That’s the easiest route for the prospect, after all. It has the least conflict, the least friction, and allows the prospect to keep the relationship they have likely had in place for years.
When our sales coach works with our advisor clients to address this reality, he covers three main points: