To Sell is to be Human
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When were you last moved to take action? For me, external forces influence my behavior many times a day.
When did you last move someone to act? Just as likely, you influence others daily.
When did you last close a sale?
Did that question make you uncomfortable?
As a financial advisor, part of your job to inspire action – save, invest, or get a will, living trust, power of attorney. You teach people to be intentional about their financial decisions and actions.
Your prospects and clients need your expertise and you have a desire to help.
Yet, when it comes to business, many advisors are deeply uncomfortable with selling. The idea of promoting and speaking about their expertise and services evokes fear and shame. Often selling is so difficult it leads to inaction and avoidance.
To sell is to move people to act (often in their best self-interest).
To sell is human
The old perception of sales as sleezy, one-sided and manipulative is inaccurate and outdated. Of course, there are people who fit that stereotype.
But that doesn’t have to be you.
“To sell is human,” according to author Daniel Pink.
Pink’s research found that nine out of 10 people sell daily. Whether you like it or not, you are selling. Why not get intentional about it?
By the time a prospect is having a conversation with you, they likely have done their research, know what they want and think you may be able to help them.
If you believe you can help someone, would you? Of course, you would.
Starting today, stop thinking about sales as selling. Start thinking about it as helping, influencing and moving someone to act in their best interest because that is what you’re doing.
The science-backed ABCs of selling
In Pink’s book, To Sell is Human, The Surprising Truths About Moving Others, he redefines the antiquated concept, “always be closing (ABC),” to capture and modernize the skills needed to succeed based on science-backed research.
To strengthen your sales muscle you need to focus on:
- Buoyancy; and
Attunement is aligning around goals. Listening is critical to identify what someone (really) wants. What someone says they want isn’t necessarily what they really want.
The stereotypical salesperson is always talking, forcing their agenda. Yet, the best salespeople are skilled in the art of listening. A very small percentage of communication is verbal. Most communication is non-verbal and can be captured by tuning into body language, tone of voice and your intuition. A great listener will sift through the noise to identify what matters. Often this requires restating what you think you heard for confirmation and the use of clarifying questions to dig deeper to uncover the truths.
Buoyancy is the ability to manage and overcome rejection and negative beliefs. Based on Pink’s research, interrogative self-talk (not affirmations or a pep talk) is the most effect method for staying buoyant. Ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” and see what comes up.
Also ask yourself, “Do I believe I can help?” If the answer is “yes,” then you change from selling to helping.
Clarity is the use of questions to drive insights and decisions. Use clarifying questions to move from problem solving to problem finding. Get curious to motivate action. You may see a problem that a prospect or client can’t. Instead of telling (or selling), asking is an effective way to ignite an unperceived but present need.
It’s important that you understand their needs for two reasons: to help identify if you can help as a professional partner; and more importantly, to move from selling to believing that you can provide a needed service.
So what’s stopping you?
What stories or doubts are keeping you small or stuck? Name and reframe them for what they are.
To sell is to be who you are. To sell is to be others-focused.
Get comfortable with discomfort
There are three components to effective sales.
- Infrastructure; and
Belief is the deep knowledge that you have value to add, expertise people need, and clarity with how you can help. Confidence in your abilities is foundational. Focusing your marketing and sales on work that taps into your zone of genius is one way to quickly get comfortable with what you have to offer (The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks provides a good framework to uncover your genius).
You don’t have to be everything to everyone; you can simply be the best version of you. Focus on the things that you are most proud of and are most impactful to your ideal, future clients. Stop worrying about how your competition is selling themselves. Remind yourself, I don’t compete, I create.
A lot of sales is process and data management. Infrastructure includes data management, a pipeline, an effective CRM and a client service model. Great infrastructure includes the processes, best practices and culture that define your prospect and clients’ experience, supports their buying decision and moves them to act and become an advocate.
Every advisor I know claims to provide exceptional service. If that’s true for you, I challenge you to define what exceptional service means and to operationalize it.
Last but certainly not least are sales skills. You can be successful with belief and infrastructure, but developing sales skills has a compounding effect. It took time to develop expertise as an advisor; it takes time and effort to develop sales skills too. However, sales starts by being genuinely yourself. There are many different types of sales people: consultative, authoritarian, persuasive, etc. Start with your strengths and comfort zone; there is no need trying to be someone you’re not.
Especially if you are (or plan to be) spending money on marketing, what happens after you get the lead? If you don’t have a good answer there is work to do.
People need help with their finances to live the lives they desire with confidence and freedom.
Your prospects and clients need you to be able to sell and to move them to act in their best self-interest.
Who will you move to act today?
I partner with RIAs and financial professionals looking to unlock their potential by getting intentional and comfortable with sales. Growth strategist and coach, accountability partner, change maker – those are some of the names I’ve been called over the past 15 years. What happens after you get a lead? If you looking to move more prospects to clients and clients to advocates, I’d love to help. Learn more resources at www.shaunamace.com or contact me at [email protected].