As a sales consultant I've noticed that there seems to be a gap in the way agents are connecting with their potential clients. As a potential client I've experienced a number of approaches by agents from varying companies, the interesting thing has been that most of them, even though from different organization all sounded the same and seem to make the same error.
Here are three things that are affecting agents;
1) The Sales Approach
It's no surprise that in a recent survey conducted forty-seven (47%) percent of financial advisors indicated that their sales approach was one area they believed needed improvement. I can attest to this as most approaches advisors made to me all seemed the same even though they came from different organizations.
So what's the problem with the approach? Firstly, just to be clear the sales approach they are mainly referring to is the sales call. Apart from it being generic, there is no value added to it what so ever. Customers gravitate to things they can immediately relate to within the shortest period of time so it's wise that agents make this call relatable.
Quote: "Slow down sell faster" - Kevin Davis
With the abundance of information via social media, I'm surprised that agents don't spend a little more time researching their prospects. The three main mediums that agents can use are;
LinkedIn: This gives you the prospects professional background and interests
Website: This gives you insight into the prospects company and the type of work he or she may be involved in.
Facebook: This gives you insight into the prospects personal/social activities and interests
From here agents can take some time to structure the right approach to that specific prospect or group of prospects.
2) Negative Stigma
With my many years in the working world and interactions with different financial advisors only one ever showed that he had a vested interest in me and that was a gentleman called Dayron Khan at Guardian Life. What was the difference between Dayron and the others? He consulted more than try to sell.
There's a unique difference between the two and one comes with a stigma. Customers don't like to be sold things they don't initially believe they need and in most instances agents try to sell you on their product more than try to first understand if there is a fit or if you are the right client. I've seen friends avoid calls from agents, mainly because they felt he/she was bothering them, trying to close something they don't want to invest in.
Quote: "How you position yourself is important" - Lyndon Brathwaite
So how can this be changed? Again it comes down to the approach but most importantly in how agents position themselves in their own industry. How existing and potential customers see you is important, the role of the advisor/consultant is extremely important because it allows clients to view you as an expert. The responsibility that comes with this title however, is that you have to be genuinely interested in identifying the customers needs and giving them the best solution possible.
One thing that advisors can start doing is positioning/carving a space for themselves by using social media to get their message out there. Most importantly they must have a message, one that resonates with the customer. One of the best examples of this is Malcolm "MJ" Harris as he is seen as an expert in this flooded world of financial advisors and does not push the message of insurance but of building wealth and how insurance can get you there.
3) No Unique Value Proposition
If I were to ask advisors what's their value proposition I'm sure all would say things related to their products, packages, etc. and that's fine no wrong answer there. But, if I asked "What's make you better?" or "Why should I buy from you?" then that's a whole other type of answer that quite frankly I'm not sure most can answer very well.
Quote: "Trust is the real currency" - Lyndon Brathwaite
Every sales person, especially agents must be able to see themselves as the differentiator. Most companies will have similar packages, but you (the agent) are the difference maker and how you position yourself, approach your customers, seek their best interest, advise them, etc. makes the difference. One of the key areas of sales is TRUST and once people trust you they will be willing to either listen more or act on what you are telling them.
The difference between my best and worst agents are 1) Discipline, 2) Focus 3) Goals - Agency Manager (Major Financial Institution)
Between 2008 to 2017 the world has had a myriad of different scandals mostly with financial institutions. Rebuilding trust is not easy but achievable and one of the main ways is to be more transparent and show customers you are more concerned about their well being and not yours.
Also with prospects having so many options, agents need their own space. I'm most certain that making adjustments to your sales strategy even if only 25% of what I spoke about is implemented there will be a gain in your results.
Give it a shot and make a difference for yourself and your customer.
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