“I hear you, but to me, if someone asks ‘What’s going on in the markets?’ I’m going to share with them exactly what I know,” Josh stated rather defensively. He then concluded with, “When someone asks a question that allows me to showcase my knowledge, I’m all in.”
Josh was making a classic mistake in the art of selling to the affluent. He was looking for opportunities to display his smarts, and in particular, his knowledge about the markets. Unfortunately for Josh, today’s affluent aren’t impressed. Nobody likes being around a know-it-all, a braggart, or someone who talks too much.
What continues to amaze us is how straightforward and fundamental critical sales abilities are, and how rarely they are properly taught and coached. The majority of these talents are common interpersonal skills like asking questions and listening.
When giving someone “air time” in conversation, they’ll often provide you with windows of opportunity to sell your services. For that reason, it’s important to keep your antenna tuned in for sales opportunities at all times.
However, your sales attempts should not be painfully obvious to those you are prospecting. Your sales skills need to be so refined, so well crafted, that they’re seamless. To perform this successfully, you’ll need to master the following:
#1: Emotionally Connecting
This is, without a doubt, the most important sales skill to develop. Being able to emotionally connect is an ability that any financial advisor can achieve if they put in the right effort. It all comes down to genuinely caring about the other person’s life and connecting with them on that level. It’s here where empathy and rapport building play a critical role. Mastering this technique has the fortunate consequence of making you magnetic in all personal relationships, both professional and social.
Learning how to put your ego aside and get people to talk about themselves is a skill that will give insight into who they really are — their needs, wants, and concerns. Not only does this provide you with windows of opportunity, you’ll also have a better understanding of when and how to offer your services. Conversation is a give-and-take situation, and in this case, giving is much more lucrative.
#3: Asking Questions
A person skilled at asking open-ended questions will control most, if not all, conversations. This, of course, holds true for financial advisors. A financial advisor needs a prepared arsenal of questions they can ask in a conversational, personal, and professional manner in order to successfully guide their client interactions. However, quality is more important than quantity in this situation. We’ve all been irritated by the individual who asks too many questions, as if you’re being interrogated or someone is being overly nosy. Asking a lot of questions isn’t enough to effectively communicate with your client. There’s an art form to asking questions that involves …
#4: Listening and Asking Follow-Up Questions
A skilled questioner is also a skilled listener. Listening to the response of any open-ended question will always provide an opportunity for a comment and then to ask a follow-up question. This is a wonderful thing as it indicates that you’re listening, you’re interested in what your client has to say, and you want to hear more.
#5: Conversational and Concise
Every word that comes out of your mouth should be conversational in tone. This puts people at ease, generates trust, and allows for more insight into the person you’re having a discussion with. Again, demonstrating how much you know about a given issue by talking too much is a sales turn-off and a common mistake. This may sound obvious, but striving to be both conversational and concise will likely show that it requires both self-awareness and practice on your part. Take notice of other financial advisors and you’ll discover that this isn’t the norm. Fortunately, being both conversational and concise is a sales skill that can be learned.
#6: Relaxed Confidence
A constant within every personal interaction is an energy transference. Everyone has heard of the terms positive energy and negative energy. We’ve all been around people that made us feel uncomfortable (negative energy) and people who make us feel comfortable (positive energy). The best way to ensure that you’re consistently transferring positive energy in conversation is to develop the skill of relaxed confidence. This requires learning how to be comfortable being yourself. If you find difficulty in staying relaxed, it helps to learn how to use diaphragmatic breathing to settle any nervous energy, and to understand how body language impacts both your energy and your presence.
#7: Answering Questions
Questions are a two-way street. Yes, you’ll control most conversations by mastering the skill of asking questions, listening, and asking follow-up questions. That said, you need to be prepared to answer questions coming your way without trying to showcase your knowledge or becoming defensive.
Let’s take the proverbial “What’s going on in the markets?” which Josh saw as an opportunity to showcase his knowledge. Good sales skills will enable you to answer that question and create a window of opportunity for what we refer to as a mini-close —
“We’re seeing ____ right now in the markets.” Then redirect — “Here’s what we’re focused on with our clients.” Pause and then mini-close — “Maybe you and I should be having those conversations as well. Would you be open to talking with us?”
The key points in answering a question is to be direct –– answer the question concisely and be prepared to mini-close. The sales skills are in answering a professional question involving a direct, concise answer, redirecting the conversation, and mini-closing for a professional meeting.
None of these sales skills are complex, but for financial advisors like Josh, they might require an attitude adjustment in order to begin mastery of these essential sales skills.