Nothing makes people more nervous than talking about money, even though the only things certain in life are death and taxes. We’re told it’s not polite, or even gauche, to bring it up at the dinner table. And heaven forbid you talk about how much you earn (although the tide on that is certainly turning).
But not you — you’re in financial services sales, slinging all kinds of products that are devoted to helping people live their best financial selves. Maybe it’s life insurance, or banking software, or investment products. Whatever your specialization is, one thing’s certain: you’re passionate about the things that help people understand their money.
You’ve got the position (including your licence or certification, perhaps) but now you’re wondering: how can I not only help my clients make bank, but make a nice sum for myself as well? We’ve collected the following tips that’ll do just that. Let’s get into it.
1. Be Prepared for a Grueling Schedule
We’re mentioning this first because we want to be honest with you: you’ve signed up for one of the most stressful kinds of sales out there. Sure, big rewards will come from your sacrifice, but only if you’re honest with yourself and make the right preparations in order to physically survive.
Some firms operate 24/7. Are you prepared to work the graveyard shift? How about starting work at 6 a.m. Eastern time, even if you’re on the west coast? You’ll be serving clients that often have zero time during their own busy work days. How does working many nights and weekends sound to you?
Make sure you establish just how much availability your boss or office expects of you. Once you understand when you need to work, schedule what time you need for your self-care (sleeping, eating, exercising, socializing). Remember that your self-care schedule may need to be flexible, but it should not be eliminated. All work and no play doesn’t just make you dull — it’ll seriously affect your earning potential.
Phew, glad we got that out of the way. Onto the money making advice!
2. Collect New or Rare Insights to Fuel your Sales Pitch
It’s often said that the idea of “new” is one of the most potent advertising techniques out there. Scarcity and surprise tactics tie for second.
So it’s worth it to review just what kind of sources you’re consuming to keep on the tip-top of financial services data and news. Use a content aggregator like Feedly to collect your favorite sources that regularly report on your industry. Examples include:
- Blogs published by your colleagues or competitors on LinkedIn
- Find those colleagues or competitors on Twitter and examine what they’re retweeting
- Finance-focused publications like The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, ThinkAdvisor, etc.
- Trade magazines like Insurance Journal, Finance Advisor Magazine, etc.
- Press releases coming over the wire, filtered for your industry and specialization
- Collections of sources at universities renowned for their economic focus, like Rutgers
In a profession as figure-driven as finance, it makes sense to include well-researched industry trends in your pitch. And the newer, weirder, or alarming they are, the more they’ll motivate your prospective client to make the deal.
Beyond stats, figures, and reports, think about what kind of internal trends you’re seeing at your firm or among your clients. Anecdotal observations can be just as powerful with a dose of magical storytelling. Figure out what you or your firm is doing better than anyone else, and connect it to your lead’s needs.
3. Remember to Always Respect your Clients
In the massively popular television series “The West Wing,” there’s a scene where President Jed Bartlet consults with a priest he’s known for a long time on a significant issue brewing in his office.
Because of their long history, the priest asks whether Jed would like to be called “Jed” or “Mr. President” during their meeting. Jed asks the priest to call him Mr. President and explains why it’s not because of ego.
“There are certain decisions I have to make while I’m in this room. Do I send troops into harm’s way? Which fatal disease gets the most research money?” he continues. “It’s helpful in those situations not to think of yourself as the man but as the office.”
Although few of us have the massive reach of consequence as the President of the United States, the spirit of this exchange rings true for any who deal in sensitive sales matters.
When life gets busy or routine, it’s easy to start thinking about your leads or clients like numbers in a spreadsheet rather than the dynamic human beings they actually are. Or, even worse, it may become convenient to base your advice on what feels instinctual to you rather than the kinds of data or research a client’s needs actually deserve.
Developing a level of respect in your conversations — and demanding it in exchange — in a similar way as President Jed Bartlet can help retain the level of trust and dependability that your industry needs and your clients demand.
According to Majorie Adams, president and CEO of Fourlane, there are a few ways you can do this:
- Reschedule meetings if either side is running late, assuring everyone that your time as well as theirs is valuable.
- Don’t be afraid to disagree with your client if it’s not in the best interests of everyone in the conversation.
- Push your client to make decisions rather than wax poetically; efficiency will make everyone more money in the long run.
“These statements may go against the old adage, ‘the customer is always right,’ but we’ve found they truly help us to gain trust,” says Adams to Forbes. “It’s possible to build long-term relationships with your clients when they understand you are working toward a common goal and don’t waste their time. This leads to more sales, even if they aren’t immediate.”
If you want to learn more about how you can use automation to build better relationships and trust with your clients, check out this custom infographic we created:
4. Get to Know your Target Client’s Needs and Dreams
It goes without saying that you’re collecting all the typical demographics to understand your market. Their age, income bracket, location, yadda yadda yadda. And these are certainly crucial to your success.
But do you know what their dreams are? Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a mind reader. When thinking about your clients, get specific and consider what:
- Famous person your client aspires to be
- Big lifestyle milestones are coming up for them
- Large purchases they’re considering
- Things that might be worrying them at night
Planning for the future, let alone a hopeful one, is scary for anyone. Giving your client the permission to dream big by helping them figure out actionable ways to pursue them will endear you to them for a lifetime.
Consider the difference between a middle-aged couple about to shell out for their kid’s college education, versus a young adult squirreling away pocket change to backpack across Europe one day. Which rings true to your market? Or is it another kind of person entirely?
This is a helpful tactic when considering things to promote on your blog or social media streams. Identifying useful content that appeals to their hopes and wishes can signal authenticity to your leads and signal that you don’t want them just to financially survive, but thrive.
5. Treat your Initial Interview like a Working Meeting
Mike Schultz, president of RAIN group, recently shared his experience in selecting a new financial adviser. After interviewing three prospective service providers, he found the one that impressed him the most was the one that asked questions beforehand, did their homework, and brought original ideas to the meeting.
“Since Adviser #1 had asked me a series of questions ahead of time, we were able to use our meeting time to discuss ideas he prepared,” he says in an article on IRIS. “It felt more like a working meeting than a sales pitch.”
Another way of putting it is that this financial services salesperson brought value to the meeting by offering actionable advice. This requires a level of collaboration that can’t be done by simply leading a prospective client through a boilerplate powerpoint presentation of your firm’s general services.
Asking questions ahead of time can help you figure out unique answers that will make you feel like a partner in their needs instead of just another salesperson. You’ll be the best choice because you’ve made yourself the only choice by way of personalization.
“When you put clients first, you will build a successful practice because clients will brag and refer others to you,” Tony Drake, who owns his own financial advisory firm, tells Forbes. “Whether it’s our industry or others, do the right thing first and the rest will sort itself out.”
Speaking of referrals…
6. Ask for Referrals
Seems simple, but ask your colleagues about this and it’s sure to be a contentious conversation. They’ll either assume their clients do so automatically, or will site feelings awkwardness and not wanting to seem too “salesy.”
But look at it from your client’s perspective — if you have a great relationship with a vendor and they have helped you solve problems in ways that delighted you, how would you respond if they asked you for a referral? With pleasure! And you may not have previously thought of doing so, but now that they asked, you probably know someone who would absolutely benefit from what you already enjoy.
There are loads of ways to do this that can feel authentic and eliminate your hesitancy.
- Create a ready made social media post they can share with a click of a button.
- Be casual in your tone and just ask if they know anyone that might benefit from your services.
Another reason why you ask for referrals? People trust their friends over marketing tactics when it comes to financial services. Pitching these kinds of leads will require less time building trust and give you more time to paint a path of mutual success.
In summation, the best way to succeed in financial service sales is to consider it a lifestyle, not a dispassionate nine-to-five.
Because of the sensitive nature of this kind of sales, a level of discipline is mandatory for your success. But with the tips above, it’s clear that it’s not impossible — if you treat it like the commitment it deserves to be.