Many financial advisors resist the notion that they must be good at selling to be a successful advisor. Some go out of their way to distance themselves from the “salesperson” label. That’s fine because when you consider the totality of what quality financial advisors do, it doesn’t fit the traditional definition of “salesperson.” However, that doesn’t get around the fact that, regardless of their profession, for anyone to be successful, they must be able to sell.
Put more bluntly, financial advisors have no future if they can’t persuade or convince people to work with them or follow their advice. It can be more challenging than that because advisors are selling a high-value intangible, requiring people to trust that they can deliver on it. Considering that advisors must be able to overcome an inherent trust deficit between the industry and the public, they must work doubly hard at selling themselves and their services.
The good news is that “selling” doesn’t have to be hard if you know how to sell smarter. “Smart selling” comes from developing successful selling habits that, when mastered, can dramatically improve your ability to persuade people to your side without being “salesy.”
Here are the critical selling habits successful advisors master to create sustainable growth for their practices.
#1. Focus on the relationship
One commonality among successful advisors is they are laser-focused on building the relationship before anything else. They recognize the critical importance of establishing rapport, trust, and credibility with each prospect when they first meet because they know there’s no coming back if they fail to do so.
Maintaining that focus is a crucial mindset that must be supported by mastering several other vital selling habits, including asking connection-building questions, active listening, and demonstrating empathy.
#2. Focus on building a connection
There can be no trust between two people until there is a connection. People trust those with whom they can connect and who they genuinely like. When a connection is made, prospects can lower their defenses, allowing them to get to know you as a person. That’s the essence of a trusting relationship.
More than anything else, clients want their advisors to spend more time understanding who they are, their priorities, and their life ambitions. To enable that to happen, advisors must build the habit of making the first fifteen minutes of the initial meeting to be entirely about the prospect, allowing them to speak 95% of the time. It should be a natural and friendly conversation that encourages the prospect to tell their story. You facilitate that conversation by asking open-ended, connection-building questions, such as:
- Please tell me about yourself.
- Looking ahead 20 or 30 years, how do you define success?
- What keeps you up at night?
- What do you want most out of a financial advisor relationship?
Let your natural curiosity and genuine interest in what they say guide the conversation, which opens the door for you to tell your own ‘who I am’ or ‘why I’m here’ story to solidify the connection.
#3. Learn active listening
Have you ever been drawn to someone because they really listened to you, and you knew it? People who practice active listening tend to make deeper connections more quickly because they can demonstrate that they not only hear what you’re saying but also make you feel that what you have to say is important.
Advisors who actively listen to their prospects allow them to do most of the talking while giving them their undivided attention. They use natural inflections such as nodding or moving forward in their seat to show their interest. They draw them out with questions such as “That’s very interesting. Can you tell me more?”
Finally, they check their understanding of what you said by paraphrasing it and asking if they got it right. The foundation for trust is built when your prospect knows they’ve been heard and that you understand them.
#4. Look for opportunities to be empathetic
When you master the active listening habit, you’ll be better prepared to demonstrate empathy with your prospects, which is a sure way to build a connection. Prospects who sense you genuinely understand their feelings are more likely to be open to a personal connection.
A powerful way to demonstrate empathy is by relating your understanding of their feelings through a personal story. Humans have long used stories to connect with each other, and this is your chance to relate your own experiences through a “Who I am” or “Why I do what I do” story that ties in with your prospects’ experiences.
#5. Go past the “What” to find the “Why”
Most advisors are adept at discovering what their prospects want to achieve, but the most successful advisors form the habit of pursuing the “why.” Generally, people don’t necessarily act on what’s important to them. They are more likely to act when they understand why it’s important to them. Zeroing in on the “why” taps into the emotional reason for wanting to achieve a goal—what it means to them or how it will make them feel to accomplish it.
That’s the buying motive you need to uncover. By simply asking, “Why is that important to you?” and following up with, “How would that make you feel if you were to make that happen?—you get to the real reason why they will take action now.
When you make their buying motive the central focus of your discussion and solution, your prospects will know you have been listening to them and will be more receptive to you and your advice.
Related: Building Resiliency Through Successful Calling Habits