Mehdi achieved his success despite starting out with a severely limited grasp of the English language and American customs. Now, at the top of his industry, he is famous throughout the world—with a following in over forty countries. A Chinese admirer changed his own first name to Mehdi, and at least one other inspired insurance agent gave that name to his son.
At an Insurance Pro Shop seminar a few years ago, I had the honor of being asked to speak alongside Mehdi and the renowned publicist Wally Cato. Here are some of the Lessons I learned from Master Mehdi that day:
1. Doing the right thing for your clients results in more business and referrals. Mehdi does not attribute his success to any skill of his own—he believes it is his karmic reward for giving what he can to everyone he comes into contact with. His belief in this regard, and how it humbles him, shines through him as he speaks.
2. Love what you do. Mehdi told his audience that selling insurance is his hobby. He is up at 4 a.m. eager to start his day and doesn’t stop until his wife calls him to tell him to come home for dinner.
3. Be prepared to give them what they ask for, but always show them what you believe they should have. Mehdi talked about how he increases the size of his sales, and helps clients at the same time, by presenting insurance policies at signing time for amounts greater than what he had previously discussed with them.
“They always try to buy less than they should,” he told his audience. “I present to them what they really should have, and often, they agree when they see it.”
4. Make them clients first. “What do you do when a client doesn’t want what you believe is right for him?” a workshop attendee asked. “I give him what he does want, of course,” was Mehdi’s reply. But he continued:
“I wait two or three years [until we have a good relationship and my client trusts me],” he explained, “And then I show him a chart that has on the left side what he bought, and on the right side, what I believed was right for him. I ask him which plan looks better now…and he always points to the one on the right.”
None of this can happen, Mehdi told his audience, unless the person in question becomes a client first.
5. Never give up! A consistent theme in everything Mehdi spoke about was his persistence. “Whenever there is a problem,” he told his audience, “I sit down and create a solution. There’s always a solution.”
6. Talk “Nonsense”. That’s what Mehdi calls his delightful way of engaging people in conversation.
“If I’m going up in an elevator and I push ’4′, and the other man pushes ’8′, I say, ‘You must be twice as good as me’. When he asks me why I say that, I tell him that 8 is twice as good as 4.”
Mehdi reminded his audience that day that it makes people feel good when you’re having fun. As further proof that Mehdi walks his talk, he invited me to spend an afternoon with him at his office to pick his brain, and bought us lunch at his favorite Chinese restaurant—asking nothing in return.
Give first, talk small, and think big—and contact me for help with doing the right thing. Love what you do, and keep REACHING…
After two visits—a total of six hours—advisor Marianne had gotten an enthusiastic “thumbs up” from her new “almost clients”—a young professional couple with small children—to prepare a financial plan for them. The plan would specifically include some much-needed life insurance. There was no doubt the mission was going forward!
But a few days later, just before Marianne’s scheduled return with her specific proposal, the couple called to tell her they had decided to hold off on doing anything.
“I needed that sale,” Marianne complained to me during our coaching session.
“And that’s probably why you lost it,” I responded.
Our need is the ugliest thing we can show prospective clients. If they believe that your need to make money is more important than your delivery of the service they would be hiring you to do, they’ll back away. Retaining you or buying what you have to offer has to be their idea, not yours.
Blake, an attorney in Michigan, wrote me last week about his problem in getting prospective clients to engage his services.
“I find out what their situation is,” he writes, “and then I explain very carefully what I’ll be doing for them.”
“Then they ask about price. I tell them my hourly rate, which is competitive, but they say they want to think about it…and then, I don’t hear from them again.”
Professionals like Blake often don’t spend enough time developing a relationship with their clients, customers, or patients. They know their work. They know how to diagnose problems, and they know what the most likely solutions are. But they don’t know what their prospective clients really need: someone to hear them out; sympathy, empathy, and validation.
Here are some suggestions that might help you “close” more clients:
1. Ask more and better questions. “Situational” questions are essential for you in order to enable you to do your work, but they have relatively low value to a prospective client who already knows his or her own situation.
How does the situation make him or her feel? Why does he/she feel that way? What result would this person like to get from working with you? How will that make him/her feel better?
These kinds of questions don’t necessarily add any information to your business stats, but they help you to create a bond with your new client.
2. Find out if they’re committed to change before you talk about fees. Ask if she’s receiving value from the discussion and if she has any questions for you. Ask if she’d be interested in working with someone who could alter her status quo.
3. Find out what is causing them to hesitate. If he says, “Let me think about it,” find out what he agrees with and narrow down what his concerns are. Does he have reservations about your abilities? Is he looking for a better price? It’s okay—and important—to ask these questions.
If you want more clients to say “yes” and stick to it, start by making sure you spend the time to ask compelling questions, and base the solution you offer directly on their answers. Whether it’s in asking for the sale or asking for introductions, make it about them—not about your need.
Every week, I try to provide you with a message of value—either to keep you motivated, or to help you hone your skills to get more clients—or for whatever else you want in your life. Today’s message has an almost Shakespearian relevance:
“To Do” or “NOT to Do”…That is the Question!
During my workshops, when I ask participants to describe their biggest challenge, “Time Management” is often ahead of getting or keeping clients. But since we can’t really manage time—only our activities—thinking in this way can get us stuck in an approach-avoidance tango—with ourselves. So, this week, I want to see if I can shift your perspective.
If you have created a traditional “To Do” list that is now 31 pages long and leaving you feeling overwhelmed, throw it out! Or, at least, put it away in your drawer for a moment.
Before you do, however, pull from it the Six Things you believe are the most important and put them on a sheet of paper that you can keep on top of your desk (perhaps, pin it right next to that Memo to Self: Learn to Let Go!).
Prioritize those six things—and only those six things—from most important to least important, and only then, begin working on Number One, taking it as far as it can go. Tomorrow, maybe move on to Number Two…and so on.
In the early 1900s, the industrialist Charles Schwab paid consultant Ivy Lee $25,000 for this one idea. At first, Schwab did not believe that ignoring his huge list and focusing on just six things could possibly work. After a month, however, he was excited to find he had finished more projects in those four weeks than he had in any previous month. Try this strategy for just one month, and see for yourself.
While you’re at it, make another list of things “Not to Do”. As my colleague David Ward describes:
“You have unlimited choices. But you don’t have unlimited time…As you choose what to do, you also choose what not to do. The word “decide” means to “kill the other option”…If you want to accomplish great things, you must focus on great things and let go of things that are merely good. Give up good to go for great.”
A “Not to Do” List might look something like this:
1. Check my smart phone.
2. Turn on my email client.
3. Go on Facebook.
4. Reorganize my files.
5. Be hard on myself.
Remember: this is only for now. Set the hours between which you choose to abide by your “Not to Do” List. Then, schedule in the time slots when you’re allowed to break the rules, and put this “Not” list back in your drawer for the evening. Suddenly you’ll feel like you’re Managing Time. Your story about your own ineffectiveness will change.
You’ll be thrilled with how much less you Procrastinate when it’s one of the six items on your new “Not to Do” list.
If you need help simplifying what To Do and Not to Do, contact me. In the meantime, do what you can to keep REACHING…
With fewer than ten weeks to go in 2013, I’ve put together a list of the most effective ideas for my financial advisor friends to boost their holiday sales. Even if you’re not a financial or insurance professional, I know you’ll find at least some of these ideas useful.
1. Keep your schedule filled with appointments. If your goal is 8 appointments, don’t “try” to keep 8—keep them. If you need to fill your time slots with existing clients, turn those visits into referral opportunities.
2. Look through the information you’ve taken from existing clients to determine if there’s any way in which you haven’t yet served them. Maybe you need to discuss converting an existing term policy, or increasing their 403(b) contribution. Maybe you haven’t discussed long-term care with them. Is there a client who wouldn’t be helped by increasing his or her monthly contributions into retirement savings? Find out!
3. Use the holidays as an excuse to surprise and delight them. It takes a little extra time and few extra dollars, but the rewards can be incredible: a face painting kit or a barrel of pumpkins for Halloween, a fresh baked pie or a bowl of homemade cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving.
4. “Up” your offers. A client who needs $300,000 in life insurance might agree to $500,000 if given the option. A client who can put aside $300/month for investing might be able to stretch that to $500, if you explain the benefits. Just ask. If 1 in 4 prospects says “yes”, your year-end numbers will increase dramatically, just like that.
5. Ask for referrals as a way of helping someone start next year with a bang.
“Joe and Betty, thanks for letting me know how helpful I’ve been to you in getting your finances in order and in building toward the retirement you want. With the end of the year coming, I’ll bet you have at least a couple of friends who might like to get a new start on their financial situation for the New Year and may want the kind of service you’re getting. Who comes to mind that could use a hand?”
6. Ask for referrals as a way of giving a gift!
“Joe, how about giving your friend you mentioned the gift of a session with me to talk about his finances? It won’t cost him anything and I won’t pressure him to work with me if he doesn’t want to, but you’d be giving him an opportunity to get something life changing that will last…”
7. Focus on reaching out to people with whom you already have a connection. How many people attended a seminar or gave their names to you at a Home Show who you couldn’t reach right afterward, so you then just dropped those leads? Instead of cold calling people you’ve never met, revisit those “failed” contacts, starting with the most recent. If you can’t reach someone by phone, try a quick email, or drop a short message on social media. If you do connect, those people who you have met at least once are far more likely to agree to make an appointment with you than total strangers are.
8. Slow your fact-finding interviews down. It may seem counter-intuitive, but you’ll turn more first appointments into [first and] second appointment sales if you ask more questions, especially about consequences of acting and not acting. It’s not good enough to ask how someone feels about a million dollar insurance need. Dig deeply into the consequences of not having that insurance in place. (If they can’t keep the house, where will they live? Is that okay with them?) Then, make sure your presentation addresses the consequences that they brought up in response to your questions. (This will ensure that they can stay in their house, at least until the kids start college.)
9. Keep your need out of it. You have numbers you want to reach, but the days of the “Contest Close” have long passed. Do they need your help, or not? Is what you’re offering them the best thing for them, or would something that gets you a smaller fee actually be better for them?
10. When it comes to services they need, don’t please your prospects or clients, and don’t sell to them, serve them. If they’re telling you that they’re going to put off applying for the insurance they need, and you believe that the delay does not serve them, tell them passionately that they’re wrong. Be proud of being in sales, but don’t sell, and don’t put having them like you above doing what’s best for them.
*Image courtesy of Mint.com.
For most advisors, the Fourth Quarter means a year-end blitz to improve their production numbers, hours billed, and company or office standings. Realistically, there are only a few ways to do this:
The majority will focus on the first of these, squeezing in as many cold calls, workshops, and client-appreciation events as they can. They’ll rush around, becoming exhausted and frazzled—but not necessarily maneuvering themselves into a better position—by the time the holidays hit.
Many top producers, however, will slowly and meticulously examine their top clients’ files to see if there are more ways they can serve them, planning out their referral discussions, and looking for ways to surprise and delight them enough that these advocates will tell their friends and family members about the magical experiences they are having. More business from existing clients and more quality referrals—without the frazzle and exhaustion. Their Strategy is Simple:
1. Serve them. Set appointments with your best clients. Review their files first to see if there’s any way you can help them that you aren’t already—whether it will produce immediate income for you or not. If they need an introduction to an accountant or a good podiatrist, serve them by being the source.
2. Use the holidays as an excuse to surprise and delight them. Fortunately, while the upcoming season may feel like crunch time, it also presents some great opportunities to get your clients talking about you. The first of these opportunities is actually Halloween. Just think of all the ghoulish possibilities!
Do your best clients have children who will be dressing up? How about investing in the Klutz Face Painting Book? It comes with easy-to-remove face paints and detailed instructions for creating characters. Or, pick up and deliver some great pumpkins and bring them to their homes.
For Thanksgiving, find out if your best clients will be traveling and, if not, order them a wonderful pumpkin or apple pie from a local bakery or pie company. Hand-deliver it a day or two before the Holiday—or on Thanksgiving morning.
Two years ago, my coaching client, Don, was invited in to meet his financial client’s family when he showed up at the door with pie. In the presence of her relatives, his grateful client announced how much she enjoyed doing business with her advisor—how much they had accomplished and how much more they would have to do. A few days later, one of her guests contacted Don about starting to work together.
If pies aren’t your thing, be creative. It’s about astonishing your clients in a way that gets them smiling about their relationship with you and raving about you to the people they know. Brainstorm with your team. Is there something unique and special you can do to show them how important they are to you?
3. Talk about helping their families and friends. With another financial year coming to a close, do your clients have friends or family members who might need your services? If you can specifically identify someone in their circles, ask about him or her. If not, ask them if they know someone who might need your help before the quarter’s done.
You can still go ahead and make those cold calls, book those workshops and events, but put your emphasis on existing clients—the people who already do business with you and will be joyous to rave about you to those they love. If you need more tips on serving up the right surprises, contact me. Either way, keep delivering what you do best, and keep REACHING…
GIVE SOMEONE THE GIFT OF SELF/SALES HELP
Send someone a thoughtful and thought-provoking gift this season:
Autographed copies of my books, The High Diving Board and Become a Client Magnet. I’ll even include a personal note that you can customize. There’s no extra charge for the signing, nor for holiday gift-wrapping. Simply click here to order the 2-book package, and make sure to edit the Gift Options and/or Add a Comment or Request to let me know your needs.
Nine coaches, myself included, were sitting in a hotel meeting room in Scottsdale, Arizona, mesmerized by Master Coach Steve Hardison, the guest speaker at our workshop. To have Hardison coach you exclusively, you have to be willing to pay $150,000 up front, plus all of your travel and lodging to, from, and in Arizona (no refunds!) in order to meet him in his office at your appointed time every week.
Extending his fingers out into the room and gesturing above and all around us, Hardison urged: “There is no work to do out there, anywhere…Zero!”
“Our minds complicate the whole thing,” he continued. “Listen to what you say here (pointing to his head) and here (pointing to his heart).”
“Everything is from the inside. Nothing is from over here (pointing to the outside world). Dial the right station. When you tune in to what you really want, it will show up. You are god with a small ‘g’. You are creating your life.”
“What could you speak into the world that would upgrade your thinking from a Ford Escort to the car of your dreams?” Hardison asked. “We are the sum total of what we speak about ourselves and the world. Our entire world is what we’ve spoken and thought. I speak it, and my world begins to occur for me. This is what’s going to happen. Every action we take is based on how the world is occurring for us.”
Hardison then told a story about once attending a movie, right before which he stood up and announced to the entire theater that he’d be giving away his client Steve Chandler’s new book after the film to anyone who promised to read it. The people he’d come to the show with slinked down in their seats in fear of being associated with the crazy guy making a self-help announcement in the movie theater. One friend asked him, “Can you do that in a movie theater?” But after the movie, people lined up at the trunk of his car to pick up one of his client’s new books.
Imagine how successful you would be if the way your world occurred to you was the way the world occurs to Hardison: that you can ask anyone—anyone you choose to ask—to meet with you; you could ask anyone for a referral, or to buy whatever you’re offering. And their answer wouldn’t matter. It doesn’t mean anything. It’s just an expression of a preference.
“Would you like one of my client’s new books?”
“Would you like to upgrade that popcorn to a Large for 50 cents more?”
“Would you like to sit down and talk with me about your financial situation?”
The world-renowned insurance agent Mehdi Fakharzadeh, now in his nineties, asks the underwriters in his insurance company to issue two insurance policies for a new client: one for the amount they discussed, and one for double that amount. When he goes to deliver the policy, he shows his client both and explains the difference in the monthly fee. More often than you might think, the client takes the larger policy. The client has more protection and Mehdi earns a larger commission. Everybody wins.
But this only happens because the way the world occurs to Mehdi, he can comfortably offer a surprise, double-sized policy to his client while he is delivering what he or she expects, and without worrying that he has overstepped.
If you’re not where you want to be in your career (or in your life), it’s probably not because you need more information. What you need is a transformation—an alteration (or, an upgrade) in how your world is occurring to you.
To have me coach you exclusively, you just have to be willing to make the change. Contact me, and whatever upgrade you desire, I’ll help you find the keys. You’ll have to know they’re somewhere inside, but until you’re sure they’re in your hands, we’ll keep REACHING…
I’ve shared a good deal of information with you recently on being willing to brand (and speak up about) the special service experience that only you offer. Consider this a prequel to all of that. Good; so, you’re special! But before we get into it…
The last time you sat down with a prospect, you probably went through some awkward small talk while you anticipated getting down to fact finding, when you could relax a little. After all, you’ve helped clients like this many times before. You’ve listened to them answer your questions and waited patiently until it was your turn to talk about insurance or financial concepts and strategies.
Then, as you got into your prepared interviews and well-practiced presentations, your confidence would grow a little, because now you had the opportunity to show your stuff. You were able to explain what you might do for each of these prospective clients. You told them why you love your work. You told them why your approach is unique—and it is—and that always felt great to share, didn’t it? And they always seemed really interested in the conversation you were leading. So all that was left was for you to ask them to get started—to “close”.
I mean, after all, potential clients only have one decision to make, right? It’s simple: Would you like to work with me—yes or no?
Unfortunately, it isn’t that simple. Prospects actually have Three Decisions in front of them, beginning at the time when you first approach them for an appointment:
(1) Whether to spend some of their precious time with you. If you’re sitting down with them, they’ve already made this decision in your favor.
(2) Whether they want to change their status quo. A prospect may have no particular regard for his current advisor, and he may fully recognize the need for more or better insurance or professional advice, but he may still not want to do anything about it. This is the concept of inertia: A prospect at rest tends to stay at rest.
(3) Finally, the prospect has to decide that if he is willing to change, he wants that change to be with you.
If you’ve ever heard the words “I’d love to work with you…” and then couldn’t get the prospect back to hear your proposal, then you were probably short-changing yourself on appreciating the magnitude (and rarity) of the Second Decision. It’s one of the biggest mistakes advisors make in the sales process.
Deciding to change—from no advisor to having an advisor, from one advisor to another, from no insurance to having insurance, from one investment to another—is actually the most difficult of the Three Decisions. The prospect is weighing the status quo against what a change will mean, what the issues are, what his or her competing commitments are and what new commitments (financial, medical, legal, and mental) will involve, and who else might be impacted by this change.
She may have an advisor she doesn’t like. She may actually know she needs help, or more insurance, or some other change in her financial or insurance situation. But she just hasn’t yet made the commitment to do it. If a potential client has not yet decided she is ready to work with someone new, and you charge in with your “solutions” and your “methodology” and your “training, experience, and credentials”, you have launched an irrelevant conversation.
You might think they need to understand the benefits of what you’re proposing, but in the absence of the Second Decision, prospects have no interest in hearing your Third-Decision Discussion—the “why you”. Until a prospect has made the Second Decision, Third-Decision behavior (discussing the solutions only you can provide) is futile.
Talking about your unique services with someone before the person has decided to change is one of the biggest reasons you’ve often heard those positive comments about your work, and then are surprised [yet again] when the prospect cuts off communication. He or she may have truly been enthusiastic about the idea of working with you, even if he or she hadn’t made the commitment to do it. A single contradictory conversation with a brother-in-law, an accountant, or even a plumber could have been enough to send your shaky prospect back into hiding.
Ask questions to make sure the prospect is ready to hear solutions. The reward will be more meaningful commitments to hearing you out and moving into the Third Decision—in other words, fewer wasted presentations, and fewer lost sales.
If you could use help moving your potential clients into their Third Decision, you only need to decide you’re ready to make a change before you contact me. In the meantime, keep REACHING…
*This article was inspired by a recent writing shared with me by my coaching colleague, Rich Litvin. I admit to “borrowing” some of his ideas and language.
You know the feeling: You gave the presentation of your life! You were “on fire”. Every question was met with a dazzling, intelligent, emotional, cogent, coherent answer. Every idea that you could share with your clients or prospective clients found its way into your head and flowed bountifully into your words. But…
As you’re driving home, you’re not so sure. They seemed to love the first feature you spoke about, but there was something about their comparison of your second feature to the competitor’s that might have indicated a preference for the competitor’s services…
And then, there were those few awkward seconds when your attempt at humor went right over their heads…
And those few moments when you remember feeling you were a bit “salesy” or sounded a little too desperate.
And a piece of food from lunch was stuck in your teeth!…and your tie was on, but it was sticking out from under your shirt collar…and the stain you failed to notice until now…
Growing your network, giving presentations, interviewing for clients—or for work—definitely has its ups and downs. When the adrenaline rush starts to dissipate, the self-doubts to which we are all susceptible come flooding in. We begin to analyze everything we’ve done, finding fault with enough things to replace all the confidence we had a few moments before with an empty, aching feeling that we’ve somehow botched the whole endeavor.
Courtesy of DeviantArt.com
It’s The “But” Monster at work. In my book, The High Diving Board, I talk about this creature whose original purpose was to prevent you from roaming out into the streets, or beyond the borders of your “safe neighborhood“. As you grew and expanded that “neighborhood”, however, The “But” Monster learned to hide better, but grew with you. Now, when he pops up out of nowhere, he’s huge, and he’s angry that you got past him in the first place to make that important call or presentation.
So, he welcomes you back home to him with the doubts that should have kept you from venturing out in the first place. He tells you, “Yes, you wanted to fly, BUT…you’re really out of your league here.” Or, “Sure it was a good presentation, BUT…you don’t really know that much and your competition is probably much better, anyway.” Or, “It was a good presentation, BUT…they were probably stuck staring at that food in your teeth.”
“Why don’t you just stay here where it’s safe?” he urges. And he could be speaking powerfully enough to keep you wallowing in that self-doubt, and causing you to avoid the next venture altogether.
BUT…don’t let The But Monster beat you!!! Here are some ideas that might help:
a) You can’t stop the negative feelings from arising, so let them. Your lifelong gatekeeper is strong, immortal, and immutable. The one thing you can do is let him rattle on, but recognize that the doubts he raises are a natural reaction to your choice to go beyond your safe neighborhood. If you’ve accepted the concept that it’s okay to be afraid in the pursuit of your goals, then accept this corollary: You can’t stop the self-doubts, but you can decide not to let them slow you down.
b) It doesn’t matter, anyway. No deal, no presentation, and no single event should matter so much that actually “blowing it” could possibly destroy your life or career. Get over your doubts about this one by jumping right into the next one. Hey—if nothing else, you’ll have a new disaster to worry about!
c) Let go of your outcomes. Set your goals, do the things you need to do to reach those goals, and then stop worrying about how an individual situation works out. For every call or presentation you actually mess up, there will be another you get right.
If you need help changing your attitude toward the bumps in the road to your success, and toward your very own incidental “But” Monster, contact me. Or hone this outlook and other skills by joining me for my Mastering Client Referrals Workshop on Saturday, October 19th.
In the meantime, keep REACHING…
COME TO PRINCETON IN OCTOBER
AND BECOME A REFERRAL MASTER
If you’re a financial or insurance professional, join me on Saturday, October 19th for an all-day
Mastering Client Referrals Workshop.
Boost your year-end sales and start 2014 on a roll. For details, take a look at
Register by Friday to take advantage of the Early Registration Discount. Or call me at (609) 454-3810 and we’ll talk about whether this program makes sense for you.
Most people don’t really understand what courage is. When I ask them to define it in my workshops on Overcoming Fear, the answer I often get is “the absence of fear”.
But this answer isn’t accurate. While there are a few seemingly fearless fighters, most military personnel will admit, when you ask them, that they were afraid much of the time they were in the field.
Courage is not the absence of fear; it’s action in the face of fear. These brave people risk—and sometimes sacrifice—their lives, but not without fear. They do what has to be done, despite the fear.
Wherever I go, I find professionals and entrepreneurs struggling to grow their businesses or advance their careers. These are people with all of the technical skills they need to be successful, but they’re still, somehow, not getting what they want.
Other times, more simply:
(3) they haven’t yet decided to make the change.
If you feel like your practice ought to be growing, but you’re just stuck, start by recognizing that one, both, or all three of these factors might be at play. If fear is one of them, understand that it’s okay to be afraid when it comes to stepping into sales and marketing and other “dangerous battlefields“. Admit that you are afraid. But don’t respond by backing away.
Ultimately, the fear itself can’t hold us back from having what we want and need in our businesses or lives—how we view fear and our learned response to fear are the real threats. We feel the “fear factor”—the butterflies in our stomachs, the rapid pounding in our chests—and the little voice in our heads warns us: “It’s not okay, back away.” And we obey.
When we were children, this response probably saved our lives many times. We’d feel those feelings when we came too close to a hot stove or stepped into the street. But as adults, if we so much as think of picking up the phone to make that prospecting call, or attending a networking event, or making a presentation—our “back away” response keeps us from doing what we need to do.
The good news is that if we learned this response, we can unlearn it and replace it with something better:
“It’s okay to be afraid, but if this is my goal, then I have to do it.”
If you can get past the fear on your own, do it. If you can’t, decide to hire someone who can help you, or contact me to take a step in the right direction and back onto the playing field. No matter what you choose to do, if you have a mission, keep REACHING…
Are you aggressively selling your services and finding that few prospective clients—even those who are clearly in your target market—are buying?
“What is selling?” I ask at the beginning of many of my programs.
This question elicits a variety of answers that provide a window into the thinking of the professionals and entrepreneurs in attendance:
“Trying to convince someone to buy what you offer,” says one.
“Saying things that persuade someone to agree to buy your services,” says another.
“Manipulating someone into feeling he or she has to have what you offer,” a third might say.
“If your view of ‘selling’ your services is something along these lines, it’s no wonder that you can’t fill your practice or find enough clients for your businesses,” I tell them.
“STOP SELLING YOUR SERVICES!”
After pausing for effect, I explain, “If by ‘selling’ you mean some kind of noisy, pushy, aggressive ‘hawking’ of your services, you’ve already either sensed or discovered that ‘selling’, as you’ve defined it, doesn’t work.”
“But what if you had a different view of selling?” I ask them. “What if selling was asking appropriate questions so that your prospective clients understand that they need what you offer?“
“Stop selling,” I tell them. “Start attracting business instead.“
For the rest of the seminar, we usually discuss the distinction. Among the points I ask them to consider are these:
a) How to develop an “attraction” mindset. What you offer is something valuable—something that people want or need. If you have any clients at all, you’ve already proven that. People ought to know about your practice or business. You should be proud to tell them about it. But you don’t have to “push” it on them.
b) How to resist the urge to “sell” and ask great questions instead. The “selling” that doesn’t work usually involves identifying a potential client and then trying to “close” him or her on a meeting with you or on the purchase of your services.
Tell a prospective client what you do and then ask his permission to explore his situation. The conversation might end right there, but since people do like to buy—and you’re not selling—he’s likely to agree to let you explore. Once you have permission, ask questions designed to unearth some specific need or desire.
c) How to address the specific need or desire. Then, instead of talking about generic features and advantages of your services, discuss how what you do meets the specific need or desire uncovered by your questions.
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