I'm writing this article in the downtime between sessions at a conference for wealth management representatives. I had an interesting conversation with one of the reps in attendance. He told me a story about a friend of his that had a very successful wealth management firm that he grew from the ground up to multi-billions in assets under management. It was built on gritty cold calling and aggressive selling techniques 30 years ago. Once he built his business to a certain point he focused his attention on maintaining his portfolio and providing excellent customer service. After he successfully put all of his kids through college he decided to try to add new clients again using the same techniques that he built his business with in the first place. As you can imagine, he failed miserably. In talking with this rep, he was having similar struggles adding new clients to his portfolio. The moral of this story is that prospects are constantly changing and consequently, sales strategy is also continually transforming.
I am a bit of a nerd when it comes to sales strategies and selling techniques. I enjoy reading articles and books that explain how others are seeing success. But there is a lot of stuff out there, including the article you're reading right now. So how do you stay ahead of the curve? The most popular sales techniques become white noise to our prospects because they get peppered with the same sales presentations that follow the same script the moment they become popular.
Here are 4 keys to always being relevant as droves of new sales techniques swirl around you every day:
Sales is difficult. Be you. Do your own thing. The beauty of sales is that there is no right or wrong way to do it. Find your own style and commit to it. Don't read something online or in a book and regurgitate it exactly to your prospects. It's ineffective, it sounds rehearsed, and your prospects are smarter than that. If you want to be successful constantly learn and be a student of sales but make it your own.
Be genuine and real. Be human. Open up. Say what you mean and mean what you say. If you believe what you are saying and doing, it is much more impactful to a client or prospect. If you don't believe in what you are selling, run! Get a new job. Ultimately, you are trying to build rapport and gain trust from your prospects. You can't do that if they don't believe a word that comes out of your mouth.
Honesty is absolutely key. Transparency in the sales process leads to a much better experience as a customer. One of the goals in the sales process is for your prospects to know exactly what they are getting. If a prospect can't afford your product, tell them. Their time is valuable, don't waste it. You understand which prospects are a good fit for your product. Share that with your prospects. You'll find that when you're transparent with your prospects, you'll have a much leaner pipeline of legitimate opportunities and happier clients.
Pay attention. Ask questions. Be interested and interesting. Listening is the most important part of the sales process. Your prospects agreed to have a meeting with you because they have some problem or pain that they think you may be able to solve. Let them tell you how to sell them. When you listen to your prospect you can ask meaningful questions and get valuable information to advance the sale.
None of this is groundbreaking. In fact, most of it is probably common sense. Despite all of the articles and books claiming to change sales forever, there is no magic fairy dust to sprinkle on a sales process to make it effective. The way to guarantee your success in anything is by having the right, positive attitude and putting forth the required effort.