The challenge for financial advisors
Financial planners and advisors, insurance brokers and other services in this industry are known for being knowledgeable technicians. Their services are crucial to helping individuals and businesses to thrive with their financial goals.
Whilst many financial services businesses are thriving, there are others that experience the same patterns: inconsistent revenue, an inability to accurately forecast, challenges around fee structures and serving smaller clients than they would like.
World’s best practice
Michael E. Gerber, author of best-selling and world-renowned books The E-Myth and The E-Myth Revisited, perfectly describes how business can be much more successful, with his famous quote “the system runs the business, and the people run the system”.
Many financial services practices are highly systematised when it comes to the technical and compliance components of their profession, but few apply the same diligence when it comes to systematising the process to establishing strong revenue generation – in other words, how to build a ‘machine’ that helps to consistently generate and retain the right type of business.
Gerber refers to the importance of building this revenue machine by implementing this to probably the most important business function – sales.
If you’re not in sales, you’re not in business so irrespective of whether you refer to this as “business development”, “client liaison”, or “account management”, it is extremely critical to any business, and, extremely important to get right.
Sales is not something to be embarrassed about, fearful of, or not talked about. Sales is necessary.
Bottles and Bottles
If you don’t follow a sales process, you’re robbing your business of great clients, short buying/decision times, full pipelines and consistent, predictable revenue.
It’s your revenue factory.
If you were producing bottles, you’d follow a process from the raw materials, right through to the end product. All the bottles would come out the same, just by following the same process.
If you skip steps, or make it up as you go, you can’t predict how and when they will come out or how many will and how often they will.
It’s a process
Sales doesn’t need to make you feel uncomfortable. In fact, if it’s making you feel uncomfortable or someone is selling to you and you feel uncomfortable, then, they’re doing it wrong.
When the sales process is conducted successfully, here’s what you’ll notice:
- Conversation feels calm and free flowing
- Prospects share lots of helpful information
- Trust is built early, and with strength
- Your prospects notice your expertise above your competitors
- You’ll be meeting with more of the right kinds of prospects
- You’ll have more business on, with the right type of clients
- Margins increase
- Your revenue is predictable, sustainable, and constantly increasing
- Your team enjoy doing sales, sometimes for the first time ever
Here are 4 attributes that are crucial to sales success in financial services practices:
1. Don’t just wing it
You need to respect the need and the practice of selling, and understand that like every other discipline, ‘winging’ it isn’t going to be effective.
Determine best practice processes and learn fundamental sales skills. That doesn’t mean you become a ‘hard sales’ person (in fact it should be the contrary), but it allows you to be more effective at converting and retaining clients.
In fact, one of the most fundamental elements of sales is the ability to sell yourself.
If you or your employees are unable to sell themselves as a representative of your company, how will they sell your product or service?
In addition, how will they convert prospects to customers if they are ever challenged on price or quality?
2. Don’t “Show up and Throw up”
Whilst your team likely believe that your company is a market leader or has a unique point of difference, your prospective client does not care for that upon their first interaction with you.
Some financial advisors get caught up in vomiting their product, company, and technical information all over a prospect during the first interaction, after all, they’ve come in to hear about that, right? Wrong.
Your customer has come in with a problem and the role of the financial advisor is to give them the right information so they can make an informed decision as to whether your service is the right fit.
How do you know your product is the right fit if you don’t ask the right questions?
Most people in sales are unskilled in their knowledge of questions. Not just what questions to ask, but the type of questions, the number of questions and the order in which they are asked.
3. Prioritise selling trust
In research by Amy Cuddy, she revealed that when making a first impression, people are sizing up if they can trust you and if you have competence to be able to assist them. This research concluded that these two elements must be established in that order. Trust first, competence second.
To establish trust, you need to make your interaction more about your customer and less about you. The best way to do this is to become a master at asking the RIGHT questions.
4. Use a sales process
Ask any unsuccessful business about sales processes and they will tell you “I don’t need a sales process because every client is different”, and “we don’t do sales, because we’re in professional services”.
If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.
And, what get’s measured, get’s done.
Like any framework, its benefit is to help you stick to a process of ‘best practice’. A sales process is a repeatable system that starts when the enquiry comes in (or the meeting is held) and ends with a paying client.
It is designed to bring out the best in your prospective client, so they can share what is important to them, and also to showcase that your business is best-placed to assist them. A sales process will also shorten the amount of time it takes for prospects to decide to become your clients.
If you want to maximise your opportunities for sales success, a sales process is crucial.
Learning the importance of these 4 attributes will give you and your business the best chance of success!
About Julia Ewert
MBA-degree qualified and with 25 years’ experience working for global companies in sales leadership roles, Julia Ewert is renowned as a professional negotiator and a sales strategist teaching skills based on world’s best practice and FBI negotiation techniques.
Julia teaches these skills through her repeatable sales process, which is a proven system that helps companies to convert more contracts, increase their margins and win more negotiations. Learn more on her website.