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What You Need to Know

  • The more you know about a prospective client up front, the greater your chances of making a sale.
  • Explain clearly how the products and services you're offering can meet the person's needs.
  • Just because your prospect isn't buying now doesn't mean they won't later. Follow up.

Life would be great if sales were like shopping for a suit.

“What would you like?”

I want a gray, single-breasted suit in a 44 long.

“Here you go, sir. It looks great on you.”

Thanks, I’ll take it.

The financial services industry is different.

6 Ways to Increase Your Chances the Prospect Will Agree

Let’s revisit some basics for getting the order.

1, You need to ask for the order. If we revisit the clothing store analogy, the salesperson would be saying: “Shall I wrap that up for you, sir?” and “Will that be cash or credit?” 

Financial services: You need to ask for the order. Like buying a suit, it’s a yes-or-no question.

2. Get as much information up front as possible. In the clothing store, you will be asked: “What color fabric?” “Single- or double-breasted?” “Do you have a favorite designer?” “What size?” 

Financial services: The more you learn up front, the better you know your prospect’s preferences.

3. Solicit feedback, and act on it. Ever watch “Say Yes to the Dress”? The bride-to-be explains her preferences. They bring out a dress. She changes her mind, “What I really want is more of this and less of that.” The next dress aligns more closely to the new criteria. 

Financial services: Trial closes are the feedback you solicit. “Does this make sense to you?” “Are you comfortable with that?”

4. Provide positive feedback. In restaurants, your server says “Good choice” after you order. When you buy a new shirt, the salesperson says: “It looks great on you!”

Financial services:  Your client identified their needs in the financial planning process. You delivered a proposal. Circle back, explaining how different elements in the proposal address those needs.

5. Appeal to your prospect to act. We are Americans. We buy something because it is on sale. “It’s good you came in today. We are running a sale on all suits by [designer]. One day only.” It can work the other way around. “You’re in luck. We have only one suit by that designer, but it’s in your size.”

Financial services: There are plenty of reasons you can think of to make the decision timely. The insurance company might have announced a reduction in the rate of return for all policies written after a certain date. If you buy now, you get in before the deadline.

6. Don’t leave business on the table. The classic is McDonald’s “Do you want fries with that?” The postal clerk will ask: “Do you need more stamps today?” The clothing salesperson will ask: “Do you need a tie to go with that suit?”

Financial services: The financial plan often uncovers many client needs. Don’t go for the easy ones and ignore the others. These are unmet needs that should be addressed. 

What If They Don’t Buy?

Here’s the big challenge: You followed the process, step by step. They said “Let me think about it.” You need to solicit more information. Let’s leave the clothing store behind and focus on financial services examples.

1. The timing is wrong. They may be planning to buy, just not now. They might be waiting for their bonus to come through. They are doing advance research.

Strategy: Learn about their timetable. Align to it.

2. It’s a joint decision. They want to speak with their spouse or partner.

Strategy: It’s a reasonable request. Do they have enough information to explain everything? You would be glad to help. Establish a timetable for reconnecting.

3. The amount is wrong. Somehow, the person with $25,000 implied investment products with a $250,000 minimum were suitable.

Strategy: Your firm offers different products for people at different tiers of investing. Explain why the one you are about to mention is suitable.

4. The product is too expensive. They focus on fees. They bring up an alternative that’s “free.”

Strategy: You have a couple of approaches. One is comparing apples to apples. The “free” alternative has costs; they just aren’t as obvious. What are those costs? Another is the “big picture.” Investing is a long-term relationship. The actual transaction to invest is only one part of the process. Discounting is another alternative.

You might look at the clothing store analogy and say: “Investing is different.” Learning about a person, making appropriate suggestions and helping them make a decision is another way of describing the sales process. There are commonalities through all these examples because they are considered best practices.

Bryce Sanders is president of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc. He provides HNW client acquisition training for the financial services industry. His book, “Captivating the Wealthy Investor,” can be found on Amazon.