by Tony Vidler
Sometimes the best thing an adviser can do is admit to themselves that their sales numbers just suck.
It’s the age-old “you can’t improve something until you admit that there is something wrong with it“. The reason for pointing out the obvious here is that there are plenty of people who actually do okay at their marketing and relationship management, but are still not quite getting the client numbers or revenue that they expect or hope for. Sales skills are fine and the relationship management abilities are as good as they need to be for many advisers….but sales still suck.
Enough effort has been put into their online presence, building referral relationships or incentives, and networking with influencers….yet… for all the leads and potential opportunities created the conversion ratio’s just suck. They’re getting enough opportunities, but just not converting them into new business and revenue.
In that case there is an “idea” problem.
The conversations with prospects are missing the mark because you aren’t talking about ideas that matter to them.
Nearly every time I encounter this “marketing is fine but sales suck” problem it is the same issue:
Generally this just doesn’t resonate with most consumers today, so surprise surprise!….prospects don’t convert into clients. Or existing clients don’t take the further advice or recommendations.
The product or the technical talk only resonates when it is attached to an idea that captures the prospects imagination or attention, and what triggers that is explaining how things will be different to how they are now. The “idea” is always about what can create a positive change to the current situation or plan. Technical know-how is just explaining how that can be done.
Instead of an approach which essentially goes like:
“I have this clever product or strategy and you should use it“
The conversation needs to shift to:
“I have this clever idea and this is how you’ll be better off if you use it“
This is not quite the same as hitting the “what’s in it for me?” (W.I.I.F.M.) question, which is essential in our marketing. The W.I.I.F.M. is necessary in marketing to get attention and create initial interest with strangers. Drawing attention straight away to A benefit gives prospects reason to participate in the marketing process. It is what draws them into the process to begin with. That is not the same as converting them to a particular course of action though.
We are talking about when the marketing has worked and they are already participating in our advice process – we are at the point where we are having personal conversations with them – and they aren’t quite converting…..that’s where the “idea problem” is an issue.
There is a strong tendency for today’s advisers to settle into discussions based on product or technical concepts because that is where our expertise lies and what so many have been trained to do, and it is therefore where we feel most comfortable and “in control”. It is not helped by those areas being the focus of professional bodies, regulators and industry stakeholders, who in turn lead advisers to believe that those aspects are the most important to consumers.
Wrong. They aren’t.
Think about it this way: Most of us as consumers take our car to a mechanic and say “it’s not running well”. The only real response most of us want from the mechanic is “I know how to sort that and you’ll be ready for the Indy 500 in no time”. We don’t really want to know what they are doing to make that happen…we just want it done and want to be back on the road again. (sure; there are people who ae exceptions of course, but the majority of us fit into this line of thinking).
Consumers care mostly about how your ideas and advice can change their world for the better. They are looking for those great ideas….so if your marketing is working fine but the conversions suck then there is a very good chance that you simply need to shift the conversation to what your great ideas are. Rather than “sell” a lower cost mortgage product; “sell” the ability to change their net worth rapidly to become multiple property owners. Rather than “sell” a financial plan; “sell” the idea of being able to tell the boss to stick his job 5 years earlier than they thought they could. Rather than “sell” a disability insurance product; “sell” “guaranteeing your lifestyle no matter what”.
The technical stuff will have its time later in the process.
You can’t use your technical wizardry until a consumer has agreed to become a client, so the thing that matters more is to have good ideas about how you can change things for them. Talk about those first and your sales won’t suck quite so much.