Creating a Consultative Environment in Selling

Once all of the rapport-building is done and you’re ready to get down to business, it’s important to set the tone for your time with these clients. I suggest creating a consultative feeling by using a legal pad to make notes. In some types of selling, this doesn’t make sense, but it is helpful if you can do it. When you make notes of their concerns or other details they are sharing, the potential buyers feel that you’re truly interested in them. They feel you care enough to pay attention to their pain points. [Read more…]

Award Winning Book

I’m proud to announce that my latest book, Selling in Tough Times, has won the 2011 National Trophy for Business Books in the category of Tools & Methods in France.

Here’s a brief except of the book that I hope you find useful:

Steeling Yourself for Survival by Tom
Hopkins from Selling in Tough Times

In order to survive any challenge that negatively impacts your selling career, you need to follow the Boy Scout motto of “being prepared.” So, how do you prepare yourself for some unknown event that may pop up on the horizon?

You begin with a commitment to personal growth. Personal growth is a process of increasing your knowledge and effectiveness so you can serve more, earn more and contribute more to the betterment of yourself, your family and all of humankind. It demands an investment of time, effort and money. Keep in mind that if you’re not moving ahead, you’re falling behind.

[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).

The Most Effective Product Demonstration Ever!

As with most things in life, there are many ways to accomplish a single task. Wise business professionals are constantly on the lookout for better ways to make their points or present their products. In our book, Sell It Today, Sell It Now, Pat Leiby and I teach a proven-effective procedure for product presentations or demonstrations that is sure to work for you. It is a critical part of the Sell It Today system that can turn you into a one-time closing champion.

Our procedure begins with preparation. Thinking about the client you will present to next, break down your product demonstration into segments highlighting each individual feature of your product or service that you know will benefit this client.

[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>>

Dealing with the Competition

We are in some very competitive times. People are hesitant to make buying decisions so businesses are making previously unheard of offers to get whatever slice of the market pie they can. If any of your clients tell you they’re considering doing business with the competition, you need to be prepared.

If you’re at the top of your game, you constantly act as if each and every client may consider making a change at any time. In other words: If you want to keep them as clients, treat them like gold. If you do, they’ll find it difficult to part with you and your high level of service even if the competition comes in with a better offer on a similar product.

If you’re prepared to hear an inkling of change, you’ll come across like the true expert you are rather than someone scrambling to keep their business. You’ll want to fight a clean fight with the competition, but never give up a client without a fight! [Read more…]

Know Before You Go

presentationsBefore you begin a presentation, hopefully, you have prepared, planned and practiced. Here are some thoughts on the type of preparation you should be doing:

  • Each and every piece of equipment you bring with you has been tested before your arrival. Everything works!
  • Your presentation has been beautifully customized and detailed according to this particular client’s needs.
  • All of your presentation materials are ready for prime-time–clean, neat and well-organized.
  • If a power supply is required, you know where it is and have an extension cord with you.
  • You have dedicated yourself to protecting other people’s furniture. You
    always place a pad or cloth under your demonstration materials. This includes anything you write on.

There’s truth in the old saying that a little preparation goes a long way! Invest your time wisely and you’ll soon have more happy clients.

LEARN MORE>>

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

 

Let Your Clients Do the Bragging

Top professionals in nearly every field of selling understand the value of a good client. Each client’s business not only adds to your personal bottom line, but it can lead to even more business through referrals. However, the best salespeople have learned how to get more business because of an existing client even from a non-referred lead. How do they do this? By getting permission to use the client’s name.

There are several ways of using a client’s name. You can simply name-drop to a prospective new client. “Over 85 of your new neighbors in this development have come to us for their mortgages.” Or, “Is so-and-so with the same last name related to you? I was just curious because he’s used our services as well.”

Be aware, you can only drop names of actual clients. It’s wise to get names that are authorized for use from higher ups in your company. They will have received permission and will know that this person or company is happy with your service. Remember the privacy issues related to many industries and only use this strategy with proper permission from the client…and only mention the name, nothing about the product or money amounts.

Many sales representatives use our “Higher Authority Close” and have their prominent person actually talk with a prospective client for you. To do this, you would need to have a satisfied client agree to take or make a call on your behalf. If they’re taking a call during a meeting you have scheduled with a potential new client, be sure to also schedule with the higher authority. This may be a little time consuming for both you and the existing client. However, it’s highly effective when used with the proper client and product.

Be considerate of the higher authority and don’t ask them to do this for every potential new client—just the key or large sales. If Jim Johnson is a well-known local sports figure and you’re meeting with Sam Smith, who’s just been acquired by the local team, just having the two of them make a professional connection could prove beneficial for each of them. You, the person who brought them together, then achieves a double win! You score both accounts AND the potential for reciprocal or appreciative efforts on their part.

The simplest method for using a satisfied client’s name is to have him or her write you a letter about how happy he or she is. Once you’ve gotten him or her happily involved in your product, you have earned the right to ask for a testimonial letter. All you have to do is say these words: “Mr. or Ms. Client, I’m so pleased that you are enjoying the benefits of our program. And, I so appreciate the opportunity I have of personally servicing your account.” (By the way, if they aren’t perfectly satisfied with both the product and your level of service, don’t waste your time on this.) “Since you’re so happy with it, you wouldn’t mind dashing off a short letter about our experience together that I might show to another prospective client, would you?”

If your clients show any hesitation, or even if they agree but look as though it’s just one more thing to add to their to-do list, say this: “In fact, to save you time, I would be happy to write up something brief that you could simply put on your stationery and approve.”

You might be wondering why you would do this. Well, first of all, you’ll be sure it gets done in a timely manner. The client may agree to do it, then put it at the bottom of his or her never-ending list of things to do.

Secondly, you’ll write a much better letter than he or she will. Don’t laugh at this. You’d be surprised to learn how many people don’t mind giving endorsements or testimonials, but just don’t want to do the work involved. And, why not write it yourself. I recommend that you draft half a dozen possibilities of words that would work to your advantage. Then, be ready with something like this:

“Dear Jim,

The time we shared during the acquisition of our new mortgage was truly a pleasure. I so appreciated the detailed information you provided including how we might address some of our needs that may change in the future. You hit the nail on the head with handling our concerns in your presentation and we’re so happy we went ahead with the loan you recommended. It is perfect for us. We look forward to working with you on a continuing basis for many years to come.”

                                                                                    John and Mary Smith

See how nice that is? And if you’ve done your job properly, they will be happy to approve it for your usage with other prospective clients. It’s painless for them and priceless for you.

Work on the ways clients can do the bragging for you and you’ll soon find yourself closing not only more sales, but closing sales more easily.

Learn more about working with clients>>

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

Arouse Emotions, Don’t Sell Logic

No skill that you can acquire in sales will enhance your earning power more than learning how to arouse emotions in your buyers in ways that are positive to the sale. The exact words you use will depend on your offering, your personality, your buyers, and market conditions. Positive emotions trigger sales; negative emotions destroy sales. As you work at developing the skills to evoke emotions in your potential clients, always keep that concept in mind. You can destroy sales as rapidly as you can create them through the clumsy use of, or the lack of control over, the emotional setting. Also remember that your actions, manners, words (and how you say them), your grooming, and your clothes are all things that trigger emotions in your future clients — whether you want them to or not.

The mere fact that you’re a salesperson may arouse negative emotions and people could start fighting you consciously or not. Your future clients are either emotionally for you or against you right at the get-go — and you can divide your chances of selling them by a hundred if they’re against you.

To understand the emotions that sell, sit down with your children and study the television commercials they watch. You’ll see advertising that goes for the emotions. Logic in sales is a gun without a trigger. You can twirl it all you care to, but you can’t fire it. Emotion has a trigger. You can hit a target with it. Every time you generate a positive emotion, you’re pulling the trigger on another accurate shot at closing the sale.

What is the emotional process that leads to a purchase? It begins with a new development in the buyer’s self-image. That is, the buyers see themselves in a new way — enjoying the benefits of your product or service.

If the projected purchase is small in relation to the buyer’s income, the self-image change need only be small. But if the purchase is a large one, the change in self-image that makes the purchase possible will be large. Such changes can occur very quickly. They can take place within a few minutes, or even in a matter of seconds.

Champion salespeople are adept at spotting these changes in self-image as they occur during sales presentations. They are quick to reinforce the buyers’ realization that they can have, enjoy, deserve, need, and are worthy of the marvelous new goodie they like. Do that, and they won’t just like your product; they’ll want it, need it, and realize they can’t get along without it — then they’ll buy it.

Excerpted from “How to Master the Art of Selling.”

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