Rapport Building – Step 1: The Power of Your Smile

Your primary goal when working with a new potential client is to get them to like you, trust you and want to listen to you. That’s the absolute most basic foundation of all of my training. The reason you take the actions and use the words I teach is that they’ve all been designed and proven to make you likeable, demonstrate trustworthiness, and say something worth listening to.

This is one of the most miniscule strategies I teach, yet it can make or break your career. Don’t dismiss this or take this information lightly because it’s one of the first things people see in an intial contact and it sets the stage for how the rest of your contact goes. [Read more…]

The Financial Services Presentation

You truly are a wondrous person with much to offer. You’re a champion, after all. Now all you have to do is let your potential clients discover that for themselves. And how do people learn? They’re taught, that’s how. Part of your task as a professional salesperson is to act as an instructor and a lot of this instructing takes place in the presentation phase of selling.

The presentation phase for financial services addresses four basic, yet critical subjects. These are:

  • Who we are
  • What we’ve done
  • What we’ll do for you
  • The amount of investment required to accomplish your financial goals

If you are to master the art of selling financial services, you must teach these core “lessons” within your presentation and you must teach them thoroughly. Until your prospective clients fully understand the information in these areas, they will give you verbal and visual cues you need to pay attention to in order to proceed with the sales process. Just as any teacher in any classroom, you must educate so that your students can formulate questions which then allow you to provide even more education – specifically how your offering perfectly matches their specific financial needs.

People Need Three Things from a Presentation

As any good teacher knows, not everything someone needs or thinks he or she needs is necessarily good for them. When it comes to presentations, all legitimate prospective clients have three basic needs and since these are logical and also help you build toward the close, it’s important that you cover these essential bases.

  1. People need to feel that they are being educated. As a professional this is one of your major goals. It is also important to make sure that these people know that they are being educated. Information and education are effective tools and like any tool they can be abused. A manipulator will withhold or use information to gain an advantage over a prospective client. A champion uses the same tools to discover and meet real needs and more directly involve the potential client in the process.
  2. People need to be motivated. Even if you’re offering the most exciting and perfect solution, if you don’t transmit your own excitement to them, they won’t be motivated to own. If you think back, I’m sure you’ll agree that your best teachers were the ones who were able to get you excited about the subject at hand. That can be a real challenge for you because the people you are serving are probably on an emotional rollercoaster ride. One minute they’re totally happy and excited and the next they’re scared and depressed. As their salesperson (teacher) it is your job to keep their spirits up and motivate them to (1) continue with the sales process and (2) see the wisdom of getting involved with your offering.
  3. People need to have fun. Again, which teachers made the biggest impact on your education? Those who made learning an exciting and fun adventure top my personal list. I realize that selling financial services is a serious matter and it should be given all due respect. But your clients and potential clients need to enjoy the process. It’s perfectly okay to joke around during a presentation, provided it’s appropriate and you keep things under control. Anything you can do to reduce the tension helps you make your points and serve their needs.

Learn more>>

My upcoming Sales Academy and my online courses have been approved by the CFP Board and the Financial Planning Standards Council (FPSC) for continuing education credits.

This information is copyrighted by Tom Hopkins International, Inc. for reprint permission, contact Judy Slack (judys@tomhopkins.com).

Work Smarter, Not Harder in Network Marketing

When it comes to getting involved in network marketing, most people experience a certain degree of fear. That’s perfectly normal. While the prospect of having your own business is exciting, if it’s your first time considering such an ‘independent’ venture, many pitfalls also come to mind. Stop right now and turn those negative fears into positive actions. Let’s focus instead on the skills you need to succeed.

The skills you need most are “people” skills. This includes an understanding of some very basic principles involving how and where to meet new people, making good first impressions, getting to know them and building the relationship.

How and Where to Meet New People

We all meet new people all the time through our jobs, while traveling, at social events, and so on. Yet, when we think about ‘having’ to meet new people to build a business, many panic at what to do. That’s because meeting new people [Read more…]

The Survey Approach to Prospecting

If you have access to a postal mailing list for potential clients, I suggest sending them a simple, one-page letter of introduction then following up with a phone call. [Even better, if you can network with someone else who already does business with the people you’re trying to approach, get their permission to send the letter under their name.] If you have access to email lists, consider using those addresses in a similar manner.

The letter needs to be personalized with the recipient’s name. Don’t send letters with a salutation of “Dear Friend” or “To Whom It May Concern”. Here’s a sample letter derived from my book, Sales Prospecting for Dummies. [Read more…]

What you should know about building trust

During one of the most brutal battles of World War I, the fighting stopped for one particular evening. Christmas Eve. Men on both sides of the battle lines hunkered down in their cold fox holes for at least one night of peace.

Soon, a Christmas carol was heard floating on the cold air across the contested ground. The language was different, but everyone knew the tune and soon both sides were singing together. Before the evening was over several of the men emerged from their muddy trenches, met in “no man’s land,” and exchanged greetings and even humble Christmas gifts with their enemies.

If battle-hardened men who were in the midst of trying to conquer each other’s territory can find common ground in no man’s land, then certainly we salespeople can do the same thing on the showroom floor, at the executive desk, or the dining room table.

Finding that common ground is critical to building a level of trust that lowers sales resistance. During this early segment of the sales process, you should search for areas of interest you share with each new person you meet. The supply of topics is practically endless. For example, family, the weather, sports, hobbies, or current events are natural choices in consumer sales. If you’re in business-to-business sales, you can always ask those questions as well as questions about their company, products or industry. [Read more…]

The Feel, Felt, Found Strategy

The Feel, Felt, Found technique is an age-tested, proven strategy of moving your customers gently to a new way of thinking. There are three separate parts to Feel, Felt, Found: “I understand how you feel.” This wording lets a customer know that you heard him or her and can relate. “Initially, other (top purchasing agents

The Feel, Felt, Found technique is an age-tested, proven strategy of moving your customers gently to a new way of thinking. There are three separate parts to Feel, Felt, Found:

  • “I understand how you feel.” This wording lets a customer know that you heard him or her and can relate.
  • “Initially, other (top purchasing agents, CEOs, mothers…) felt that way.” You are letting him or her know that this initial thought is common, meaning that the situation can change.
  • “What they found, however, was that after doing ‘X’ was that ‘Y” happened.

‘X’ is what you want your customer to do (purchase your product or put a deposit down now…).

‘Y’ is something positive your customer will receive that he or she cares a great deal about.

This other group of people changed their minds, did what you recommended they do, and were very pleased with the outcome.

Phraseology: “So, Steve… tell me something you would like right now.”

Steve responds, “I want to be as successful as you, Tom.”

“Steve, I understand how you feel. Initially, other ambitious salespeople felt the same way. What they discovered by staying positive and working hard at their craft each day was that they were very pleased with their own success.”

, CEOs, mothers…) felt that way.” You are letting him or her know that this initial thought is common, meaning that the situation can change. “What they found, however, was that after doing ‘X’ was that ‘Y” happened. ‘X’ is what you want your customer to do (purchase your product or put a deposit down now…). ‘Y’ is something positive your customer will receive that he or she cares a great deal about. This other group of people changed their minds, did what you recommended they do, and were very pleased with the outcome. Phraseology: “So, Steve… tell me something you would like right now.” Steve responds, “I want to be as successful as you, Tom.” “Steve, I understand how you feel. Initially, other ambitious salespeople felt the same way. What they discovered by staying positive and working hard at their craft each day was that they were very pleased with their own success.”

LEARN MORE>>

Use an Intent Statement

I recommend the use of intent statements to set the stage for every presentation. An intent statement is designed to reduce sales resistance that is created by the unknown. When potential clients don’t know what to expect next their minds tend to wander and their anxieties build.

Your intent statements tell your clients clearly what they can expect from your time together and relieve any sales pressure they are imagining. It accomplishes two very important tasks:

1. It introduces an agenda of sorts so everyone has a clear picture of what to expect.

2. It lets your potential clients know that it’s okay to say “no.” (No, I’m not crazy…read on!) [Read more…]

Listening Cues

listening cuesLearn to listen for specific clues as to how to best present information to new potential clients. By that I mean to listen for them to say, “I see what you mean,” or, “We look for ____ in a supplier” which usually means they relate best in a visual manner. Gear up your visual aids or computer graphics presentation for this person. Use lots of color, charts, photos, graphs, and diagrams.

For those people who say, “I hear what you’re saying,” you’d better gear your presentation to be more of an oral report. Be sure to include plenty of descriptive word pictures.

When people ask about investment information before you cover all the benefits they’re looking for, they’re probably “bottom-line” kind of people and your dollars-and-cents information had better shine.

People who like to “get a feel for” something will need to have something to touch during your presentation.

Remember, it’s the little things that make the biggest difference!

This information is copyrighted by Tom Hopkins International, Inc. for reprint permission, contact Judy Slack (judys@tomhopkins.com).

Understanding People’s Natural Fears

 

Think for a moment about what the greatest enemy is to the process of helping people come to a decision that’s truly good for them and getting an agreement for them to own your product or service. What is it that jumps in and brings presentations that were previously sailing smoothly along to a screeching halt? You may think it’s the competition or maybe the financial aspects of your proposal. Perhaps you think it’s the prospective client’s inability to make a decision.   Well, if you think any of those things, you are right. But, with selling being what it is — a bottom line business — let’s dig deeper and find the bottom line of what lies between you and your ‘future client’ coming to an agreement.   If you look at all the enemies you and your associates can come up with, you’ll find they have a common denominator. That common denominator is a thing called FEAR.

Fear is the greatest enemy you’ll ever encounter as a professional salesperson. Your fears, the prospect’s fear, market and trend fears and so on.   What do we fear? As salespeople, we fear saying or doing things that may halt a potential sale. Hopefully, you’ll learn to recognize and conquer your fears through continual education, practice, drill and rehearsal of strategies and tactics that will keep you ahead of the pack.   A tough part of our jobs as salespeople is in helping others understand and overcome their fears so we can earn the opportunity to help them make decisions. Fear is what builds that wall of resistance we so often run into. You must master the skills to either climb over or break through those walls.   When you recognize your potential clients’ fears as barriers to giving them excellent service, you are then ready to learn how to dismantle that wall, one brick at a time, thus gaining their confidence and trust. Your goal is to get them to like you and trust you by serving them with warmth and empathy. The first step in accomplishing this is to show them you understand and offer reassurance and a bit of education.   Here are some other common, normal and potentially paralyzing fears that many people face in decision-making situations and what you should do about them.

1. Your prospective client is initially afraid of you.
This is simply because you are a salesperson. I think you’ll agree with me that most people do not generally accept salespeople with open arms. Even if you are going to help someone you already know — a friend or acquaintance or even a relative — when you get down to business, certain fears will arise. It’s bound to happen in 99% of your presentations. (I’ll give you a 1% non-fear situation with your parents or grandparents, simply because in most cases they’ll believe in you and trust you no matter what role you play with them.) What do you do about the others?   Accept it. There are some people who are going to be afraid of you just as there are patients who are panic-stricken when they have appointments with doctors or dentists. What you need to do to conquer the fear of salespeople is to master the skill of putting people at ease. Learn to use a relaxed manner and tone of voice. Use rapport-setting comments and questions that show them you are interested in the people who own the home, not just in moving product.

2. They have a fear of making a mistake.
We all have that one, don’t we? We’ve all made decisions we’ve later regretted. Perhaps we relied on someone when we weren’t sure of his or her knowledge on the matter. When you are the salesperson, your prospective client must recognize you as an expert. You know this business. You should have knowledge about aspects of your product or service that they haven’t even considered. To help people overcome the fear of making a mistake, you need to lay out all the details they require in an easy-to-understand manner. Once they gain confidence in their knowledge, making a decision will be easy.

3. They fear being lied to.
Face it, the selling profession is still suffering from the antics of those less-than-scrupulous folks who used to be known to say anything to ‘close the deal.’ This is where your literature, testimonial letters and referrals come in. People are more likely to believe the written word than the spoken word so let them read the good news about your product or service for themselves. Let them see how happy the people you currently serve as clients are with the product and your service in particular.


4. They’re afraid of owing money
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Most people have a tremendous fear of debt. If your product or service requires financing of some sort, you’ll have to be ready to address this concern. Covering the financial details very carefully is key here.   You’ll also encounter those people who will try to haggle with you over any investment. Most people wouldn’t attempt to negotiate with a company or financial institution so you need to address financial details by referring to the lender once you reach that point. Be ready, though, for those who will try to negotiate with you about your fee. This challenge may appear in many variations, depending upon the negotiating skills of your clients. They may go at it in a roundabout way such as saying, “Another company we talked with will charge a lot less.” When you hear that remark, here’s what I recommend you say, “You know, I’ve learned something over the years. People look for three things when they spend money. They look for the finest quality, the best service, and of course, the lowest investment. I’ve also found that no company can offer all three. They can’t offer the finest quality and the best service for the lowest investment and I’m curious, for your long-term happiness, which of the three would you be most willing to give up? Fine quality? Excellent service? Or the lowest fee?” Most will respond that quality and service are of utmost concern, which overcomes the concern about the fee. Your next move would be to re-iterate everything you will do for them. Again, sell the value of the service you and your company provide.

5. Many people are afraid of losing face.
Have you ever made a poor decision that was big enough that most of your friends and family members knew about it? If you have, you know exactly what I mean here. If not, believe me when I say it can be totally demeaning and embarrassing. Often a situation like that makes you feel like a child again — insecure and powerless.   For that reason, many potential clients will stall making the decision to own your product or service. Knowing that this could be a challenge, your primary goal should be to help them feel secure with you. Let them know they are not relinquishing total power to you. You are simply acting in their behalf, performing a service they need to have done.

6. They are afraid of the unknown.
A lack of understanding is a reasonable cause for delaying any transaction. If your company has national name recognition, that should help eliminate some of this fear. If you work for a local company, I suggest you work with your fellow agents to earn a great local reputation. It will save you a lot of time over the years.   I have long noticed that former teachers often make the best salespeople. Correction, good former teachers almost always achieve champion status when they make the switch to careers in sales. Selling is little more than a matter of educating the people on the benefits of doing business with you. Once you educate them, they will feel confident in making a wise decision.   Some of seller’s most common fears may seem irrational to you, but remember, you are an educated, professional expert. You have eliminated the unknown from being a potential fear through your own education and personal experience in the business. You have already been involved in more transactions in your career than the average person will be in his or her entire lifetime (unless they join the ranks of sales professionals themselves.)

7. Your decision-makers may have had bad past experience with a salesperson or with a product or service like yours.
Have they ever made a decision like this before? If not, it’ll be like going back to kindergarten for the teacher in you. You’ll have to bring them up to speed on exactly what to expect before you can expect them to make a decision.   If they have made a decision like this before, what kind of experience was it for them? You need to ask the proper questions to get those answers. If they hesitate to tell you, you may assume it was a bad past experience and you’ll have to overcome a lot more fear than if they’ve never owned a product like yours before.

8. Their fear may be based on third party information. Someone they admire or respect may have told them to keep their existing product, or to wait for a sale. That third party will stand between you and them until you convince or persuade them that you can help them more than that person because you are the expert. You’ll have to work hard to earn their trust. You may even have to enlist the aid of some of your past happy clients as references.   You must be prepared to do whatever it takes to replace any fears they may have with confidence in the decision they’re making and in the service you will provide.   No one wants to handle a transaction in which the client may be dissatisfied with the result. Believe me, there will be cases where the grief you will get from that client won’t be worth the fee you’ll earn on the product or service. It doesn’t happen often, but you must go into every presentation with a very curious interest in the who, what, when, where and why of the situation. When you’ve satisfied yourself that this decision is in their best interest, then it’s your duty as an expert in your industry to convince them that this decision is truly good for them.  

This information is copyrighted by Tom Hopkins International, Inc. for reprint permission, contact Judy Slack (judys@tomhopkins.com).

 

 

 

 

 

Building Client Relationships

When it comes to building long-term relationships with clients, it’s very similar to building long-term friendships. In kindergarten, children are encouraged to make new friends by talking with others, inviting them to play, and being “nice” to them. They often hear these words: “To have a friend, you have to be a friend.”

In many business situations, clients often become more than clients. They become friends…not necessarily the kind you would invite to non-business gatherings, but people you truly care about and who care about you. [Read more…]