The Magnetic Salesman

Let's review three irrefutable truths: The affluent do not like sales people. Too many veteran advisors have neglected their sales skills. Advisors possessing high-level sales skills can take affluent clients from anybody. Although few would dispute the above truths, it's almost as though the financial-services industry is in denial. When talking about and planning for growth, most advisors seem to

Let's review three irrefutable truths:

  • The affluent do not like sales people.

  • Too many veteran advisors have neglected their sales skills.

  • Advisors possessing high-level sales skills can take affluent clients from anybody.

Although few would dispute the above truths, it's almost as though the financial-services industry is in denial. When talking about and planning for growth, most advisors seem to emphasize things like practice management and financial planning, as well as knowledge-based credentials like the Certified Financial Planner designation. Of course, all of these things are important to an advisor's success at serving and developing loyal affluent clients.

But here is another irrefutable truth: Financial advisors who master the art of selling bring in more $1-million relationships. In other words, rainmakers rule! You can be as skilled as you like at managing your practice, constructing financial plans and mastering the minutiae of the CFP, but if you don't have strong sales skills, you will not be able to build a growing book of affluent clients. A. great salesman can hire CFPs, practice managers, junior advisors and whatever other support personnel he needs; it's a lot harder to have it the other way around.

The 21st-century financial advisors who will earn the most money and enjoy the highest levels of career satisfaction are going to be an elite corps who excel at doing three things very well:

  1. Getting face-to-face with affluent prospects.

  2. Selling affluent prospects on establishing long-term advisory relationships.

  3. Developing loyal clientele that provide an ongoing stream of affluent introductions and referrals.

Although everyone is “targeting” the affluent, very few financial advisors are bringing in 10 or more new $1-million relationships on an annual basis. Our experience tells us that many are simply not confident enough regarding just how to do this.

The following is a simple exercise that can help you begin the process of assessing your affluent-selling performance. There are two sets of questions for you to answer as they relate to five statements. Answer Yes or No to each of the two questions for every set, and make sure that you are brutally honest in your responses.

Assess Your Affluent Selling Performance:

  • Do you know what to do and how to do it?

  • Are you consistently doing it?

  1. Effectively getting face-to-face with affluent prospects.

  2. Penetrating affluent client's centers-of-influence and getting personal introductions.

  3. Overcoming an affluent prospect's skepticism and reluctance to work with you.

  4. Effectively handling the “fee question” without commoditizing yourself.

  5. Asking for the prospect's business, and clinching a long-term relationship with the client as the “go-to” financial advisor.

In my experience, veteran advisors initially respond that they know how to accomplish most of the above, but they aren't consistently acting on this knowledge. A healthy discussion typically follows, where a consensus is reached that even if they “think” they know what to do and how to do it, if they are not doing it consistently, they might not really know as much as they claim to. In other words, they're rusty at best.

Regardless of what you might think about your sales skills, my suggestion is to make 2008 “the year of mastering affluent sales skills.” Consider the following action plan to help you get started:

STEP 1: Determine your ideal client profile ($1 million to $2 million, $3 million to $5 million, etc.)

STEP 2: Create a master list of every person you know (or know of) who might fit your profile.

STEP 3: Begin the process of getting face-to-face with each person on this list.

  • If you know this person well, ask for permission to engage in a brief business discussion; you want an opportunity to compete for their business.

  • If you don't know this person very well, your task is to develop rapport and advance the relationship. You must earn the right to ask for their business. Look to establish common ground, identify common interests, activities and acquaintances. You want to stimulate a creative point of contact that will put you face-to-face with this person.

Nothing will refine your affluent sales skills like getting face-to-face with ideal prospects and selling your services. Keep working on your sales skills!

Writer's BIO: Matt Oechsli is author of Building a Successful 21st Century Financial Practice: Attracting, Servicing & Retaining Affluent Clients. oechsli.com

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