Yes, we know: You're not a broker, but a wealth manager or a financial consultant or whatever. That sounds nice, and it may even be true. But to your firm's management, you're still a producer. And that means selling. Whatever style of investing advice you provide, the first step is to bring in the assets.
For reps who are serious about improving their sales technique — and for those who need a little brush-up — there is a cottage industry of experts who teach people the science (or is it an art?) of the sale. Some focus specifically on registered reps; others aim at a more general audience. Registered Rep. recently sampled selling programs available on audiotapes and CDs. These provide a convenient way to squeeze in some training during your daily commute. And, at about $65 or so, the tapes are a lot cheaper than the $10,000 the top gurus charge for their seminars.
You'll notice that a number of the big names, such as Leo Pusateri, Mark Magnacca and Richard Hunter, aren't included. That's because they don't sell tapes, preferring to do more customized work. We couldn't review every tape in existence, so if we missed a good one, sorry. (But let us know and we'll take a look at your favorite next time.)
Brian Tracy, The Psychology of Selling: The Art of Closing Sales (briantracy.com, 858-481-2977, $65) There's a reason Brian Tracy has achieved rock-star status as the premier selling and time-management trainer and speaker: He's good. In this series of six tapes, his no-nonsense presentation is entertaining and energetic. The basic idea is that the key to successful selling lies in psychological qualities, like self-confidence and self-esteem. People buy from people they like, so you'll perform better if you actually like yourself and are confident in your skills. He breaks down the entire sales process, from understanding why customers buy to how to approach a prospect, handle objections and close the sale. There's also a section devoted to time management.
Sprinkled throughout are nuggets of insight. Like, to sell intangible products, you must be comfortable discussing ideas and concepts. It's important to remember that selling intangible products is not like selling a car. Tracy also talks about goal setting: You should set monthly, weekly and daily goals and create a plan on how to achieve them. Here's an interesting bit: Women shouldn't smile when they first meet a prospect, but men should (women must appear serious-minded to overcome stereotypes; smile later). You can tell a customer is ready to buy when he changes his behavior or voice pattern — say, shifting his posture or talking faster. Another tip: When meeting prospects in their home, don't use the living room. It's too relaxing.
Tracy also offers interesting ideas about different buying personalities. Of course, you need to determine which one your prospect is and tailor your pitch accordingly. So you're never caught off guard, it's best to have three different approaches ready. There's even a useful manual summarizing the essential points which includes a few questions in each section to keep you thinking.
Bill Brooks, The Impact Selling System: How to Sell Faster, Easier and Resistance Free! (thebrooksgroup.com, 800-633-7762, $97) This is another soup-to-nuts series covering the entire sales process. Brooks has a more avuncular sound than Tracy, and you have less of a “I-can't-miss-a-minute-of-this” feeling as you listen. But, his sensible, well-reasoned advice is still useful.
Brooks offers a six-step “Impact” system, which stands for Investigate, Meet, Probe, Apply, Convince and Tie It Up. Investigate, for example, is what you do to locate likely prospects. Probe is the stage where you find out what makes the client tick. In the Apply step, when you address the task of building value, don't be afraid to ask, point blank, what your prospective customer likes, or doesn't like, about your service. If you get a negative response, then go back a step and ask more probing questions. Brooks peppers his advice with anecdotes and examples to help flesh out his points.
Bill Good, Pick the Cherries, Not the Pits (billgood.com, 800-678-1480, $129) You might not want to listen to these tapes in public — Good will have you laughing aloud. Sounding like a cross between comedians Paul Lind and Jonathan Winters, Good imparts a slew of useful ideas for reps about the art of telephone prospecting and how to target the cherries — promising prospects — and stay away from the undesirable pits. He does it primarily through stories — amusing, enlightening, and, yes, useful stories that illustrate his various points. You know you're supposed to sound pleasant — you're not likely to forget that after hearing the tale of one trainee “who sounded like he was sucking on a lemon.” There's also the story of the salesman who came in exhausted every day because he spent his evening hours fighting with his wife. Good, who ran a sales training program, threatened to fire him unless he signed a written agreement that they would only argue between 5 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Sundays. (That was part of a lesson on the importance of getting enough sleep.)
At the same time, Good covers a wide range of material. How many cherries per hour you should get, how many calls per hour you need to make, how many times to let the phone ring, how to file and organize your list of prospects, how to produce an effective script — along with examples of scripts to use.
He eschews the standard wisdom that you should never let a prospective customer shoo you off the line by asking to get some literature in the mail. If you find that every person you call wants something in writing, he points out, maybe that's what they really want. Sounds reasonable. (By the way, there's also a 120-page manual, with pointers on developing lists and 40 pages of scripts.)
Tom Hopkins, Low-Profile Selling: Act Like a Lamb, Sell Like a Lion (tomhopkins.com, 800-528-0446, $79.95) Hopkins is also quite entertaining, clearly a born performer, assuming various characters and cracking jokes. But there's a lot of substance behind that amiability. As you'd expect from the title, Hopkins' angle is that you need to assume a softer approach to be successful. So, he takes you through the sales process with that theme in mind. For example, he presents 17 fear-producing words to avoid, and the warm, low-key substitutes. (“Own” instead of “buy,” “visit” for “appointment.”) He also gives examples of high-pressure sales pitches, vs. ones that are mellower — and, ultimately, more effective. He also has some interesting things to say about how to position yourself vis-à-vis the competition — how, for example, to make the most of a prospect who ends up using the services of a competitor and how to get his business back a few years down the line.
Matt Oechsli, The Power of Referrals (oechsli.com, 800-883-6582, $18) Referrals are one of the most effective ways for financial services professionals to find new clients. But, contends Oechsli (a columnist for this magazine), most reps are uncomfortable asking for them. In this short, but extremely useful tape, he provides a strategy to make that process easier, to turn referrals into a regular, habitual part of your sales activities.
The meat of Oechsli's lessons is a step-by-step strategy: The first step is figuring out what kind of client you most want, and analyzing which of your existing clients match that profile. Then, figure out what circles they move in and the types of people they deal with, from church membership to sports activities — associations that are likely to reap promising prospects. Next, do some digging and get specific names of people within those groups and, finally, ask your clients if they would let you use them as a referral. Since, it's likely you won't know how to ask, Oechsli includes a brief script for what to say.
Side B of the tape includes seven self-affirmations to repeat to yourself, aimed at helping you become a referral machine. Here's one of them: “I think big and am always looking for ways to grow.”
Paul Karasik, How to Double Your Production with Client Events (paulkarasik.com, 800-770-9466, $30) This may be the ultimate nuts-and-bolts sales lesson. Karasik contends that you can get the most bang for your buck by organizing events for your clients. That can mean anything from watching a hockey game to attending the theater, as long as it's something that appeals to your client. Of course, that means first determining who that person is. And it requires asking existing clients who fit that mold for names of friends and associates whom they think might like to attend. Karasik explains how to ask for those names and then how to approach them.
The bulk of the discussion focuses on exactly how to organize one such event — a dinner. And, there really is everything you ever wanted to know about how to accomplish that task: what type of restaurant to hold it in, when to invite the guests, what kind of speakers to get, how to get the rest of your staff involved, whom to spend time with at the dinner, and so on. The idea is to get the effort down to a system that can be repeated many times successfully. If you can't accomplish that feat after listening to this detailed advice, you're in the wrong business.
More Worthwile Tapes
If you've got the time, they've got the seminar
|Paul Karasik||Seminar Selling for the Financial Services Industry||paulkarasik.com 800-770-9466||$95||Why and how to run financial services seminars.|
|Matt Oechsli||The New Psychology of Selling||oechsli.com 800-883-6582||$65||How to forge long-lasting relationships with customers.|
|Orvel Ray Wilson||Ten Characteristics of a Sales Guerrilla||guerrillagroup.com 800-247-9145||$20||Amusing discussion of traits that lead to sales success.|
|Brian Tracy||Advanced Selling Techniques||briantracy.com 858-481-2977||$65||How to study your competition and analyze where the decision-making power is in a company — and other lessons.|
|Zig Ziglar||Secrets of Closing the Sale||zigziglar.com 800-527-0306||$119.95||Advice and techniques for everything from voice training to how to ask questions.|