by Tony Vidler
I am a professional. I am a salesman. These two things are not contradictory.
Why do we treat them as contradictions? Why do professional services treat the two as an either/or option….you can be one or the other, but not both?
Part of the problem is simply perception, and the perception of “selling” varies according to who you speak to…
The last picture in the montage really does sum it up correctly though….selling is about problem solving.
Oddly enough, so to is giving professional advice. That is about problem solving too.
Most professionals think they are selling time, or their expertise and ability to provide technical information. They aren’t…or shouldn’t be. They should be selling their ability to solve a customers problem.
To do that well requires “sales skills”. The ability to listen proactively, empathise and understand precisely what the customer is thinking and feeling, talk to the customer in ways that make sense and eliminate confusion (instead of adding to the confusion), and ultimately to determine the best course of action and convince a customer to take that path.
Great professional advisers are also great salespeople.
The problem for the “profession” of financial advice however is that not all great salespeople are great professionals. Or even great advisers.
There are certainly too many advisers who are selling without advising professionally. However, there are also too many professional advisers who are not selling – and that too is a problem which receives very little attention.
A superb professional with great technical competence and empathy for their customers is useless if they are rarely talking to customers. They are even more useless if they are talking to a relatively small number of customers and not using their skills to convince the customer to make a required change.
To be a great professional you have to sell. It really is that simple.
You can change the perception of “selling” for your customers if you get busy being a proactive professional who is helping them solve their problems. If you “sell” somebody on a change of course that results in them being able to achieve their goals or fix their problems, then you are a professional adviser.
We all should be selling….not just leaving it to the people who are only “salesmen”.