Many will argue that “sales is sales.” I’ll contend that the financial services industry has two paths that professionals can take when approaching new client acquisition (sales): the transaction-based sales path or the consultative sales path.
In a transactional sales model, the value is found within the product and price is often the focus. The consultative approach to sales puts the value emphasis on the planning services offered, with the product and price being secondary.
The transactional relies more on emotion and solving “a problem.” In the financial services world, it tends to be very short sighted and singularly focused. People who do business with these types of financial services providers tend to be customers, not clients.
The consultative approach tends to have a much longer sales cycle, puts a heavier focus on a the relationship, and results in a relationship that is more aptly categorized as a client.
Prospective clients who follow an advisor-driven consultative approach to sales have three primary questions they want answered from an advisor:
- Do I like this person? It sounds simple, but a prospective client needs to like you if they plan to do business with you from a consultative standpoint. A transaction customer puts far less importance on the answer to this question. Think about it like this… when I go to buy a new stove or pair of jeans, I don’t really care that much about whether I like the salesperson. Don’t get me wrong, it helps… but it’s not the basis for my decision
- Do I trust this person? Trust is at the core of any relationship, especially when it has to do with money. There are plenty of things you can do to earn one’s trust. Third party validation and credibility are one. Quality time is another. Study after study suggests that you need to spend a certain number of hours with somebody before you can trust them. Translation: the one or two call close just ain’t gonna get it done.
- Do I think they can get me to the bright, sunny future that I hope for? This is far more important than you may realize. This is where honesty is important. You can tell them that it can happen, but if you aren’t being honest with them, they won’t remain a client for long (keep reading to find out way. Show them how to help them reach their future goals… but don’t start doing this until questions number one and two have been answered yes.
Once they’ve become a client… they need you to continually answer two questions:
- Am I still OK?
- Is my bright, sunny future still in tact?
Those two questions have plenty of overlap, but those need to be the focus of every review you have with your clients if you want them to remain clients. I’ve oversimplified things a bit, but if you can put your focus on being able to continually answer these questions for prospective clients and existing clients, you’ll be in a much better spot to continue to build a referral culture within your practice. At the end of the day, a clearly defined sales process can be one of the most important marketing tools you possess.