Selling Techniques – Storytelling, Analogies, and Real World Examples
Selling Techniques – Why we need them
Not long after passing my series 7, I was so excited to share the wealth of information I gained, that you may as well have handed me a microphone. Every meeting I went to, whether it was a discovery (1st introductory meeting) or delivery (2nd proposal meeting), I found myself babbling about REIT’s, municipal bonds or plain-vanilla collateralized mortgage obligations. Like the young boy in the picture above, I was singing my heart out. I wanted prospects to be impressed by what I knew. The problem was, I was singing to no one. It took me a while to realize that. But one day, I finally realized it. I finally realized that clients could care less about what I could prove to them I know. They were not impressed with my charts, graphs and ‘state of the art portfolio team.’ No. All they were interested in was finding out if I was trustworthy, and if I was going to look out for their best interest at a fair price. That’s it. That’s the extent of what you have to demonstrate to your prospect or client if you want to win the business. As a licensed registered representative, you don’t have to prove to them you know your stuff. They expect it! We don’t walk into our doctor’s office and expect them to justify their medical degree. We don’t board a plane and walk over to the cockpit to question the pilots about their qualifications. We trust that they know what they’re doing and are there for a reason. Same thing goes for us. When a couple comes in to meet with you, once they’ve left your office, the husband will look at the wife and say, “so what did you think of him/her.” Once that happens, I highly doubt the wife is going to look at her husband and say, “you know, I liked their explanation of Northwest Quadrants, it resonated with me.” NO! She is going to express how YOU made her feel and how she felt about YOU. So the questions then become, how do you go about earning your prospect’s trust and confidence and what can you do to make them feel as if you are the BEST person for the job? Over 20 years ago, the most publicized criminal trials in American history shook the nation to its core. O.J. Simpson was acquitted of the alleged murder charges for his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and family friend Ron Goldman. In the closing arguments, Johnny Cochran, the lead attorney representing O.J., repeated a phrase he was reiterating the entire trial, “if it doesn’t fit, you must acquit” referring to the glove found at the crime scene. The jury was held for 8 months and took only 4 hours to deliver a verdict. There was compelling DNA evidence, expert testimonials, and overwhelming evidence linking O.J. to the crime, yet when the jury members interviewed afterward, that phrase was reiterated time and time again. Some people may argue otherwise, but in my opinion, that phrase had the biggest implication in the jury’s decision to acquit O.J. So, why is that? How is it that seven words can have more impact than expert DNA analysis and evidence? It’s because it was plain English. It was catchy and easy to remember. And it spoke to a pivotal visual demonstration in the case. The most successful advisors do exactly that. They take complex financial lingo and translate it to something easy to understand for their prospect or client. By doing so, they empower their clients to make decisions. It’s the exact opposite of what I was doing, and what most advisors do today. We often like to use big words and read complex data to sound smart. For the average client, that just overwhelms them and pushes them further from making a decision. They don’t want charts, and graphs, and data points. They want plain English. They want stories. They want analogies. They want REAL WORLD examples. We are naturally programmed to listen to stories.
Selling Technique 1 – Real World Examples
I once heard an advisor asks one simple question when a prospect is on the fence about moving forward. He asks, “Mr. Mrs. Client when you started your business, would you say everything went perfectly the first time around?” The client responds with “no.” Then he replies by saying, “Of course not. But you learned, adjusted, and you prevailed. Retiring will be the biggest financial decision you are ever going to make. The reason you hire me is that I have helped over 200 clients retire successfully… the first time.
Selling Technique 2 – Analogies
When you use an analogy make sure it is around what your end goal is. For instance, I typically had clients who couldn’t pull the trigger; they didn’t see the sense of urgency. So if you face a similar struggle try and stress the sense of urgency by using analogies they can understand. Here’s an example: “Mr./Mrs. Prospect or Client if you had a flight tomorrow that was departing in the morning, how would you prepare for it?” (Allow them to respond) Then say, “In my opinion, there are three types of people.” “The first group are planners. They plan far in advance, have their alarm set, have their luggage ready, their ride confirmed, checked in with updates about their flight sent directly to their phone, and they leave their home with ample time to get to the airport in case of unexpected weather or traffic. These people board their plane, and get to their destination.” “The second group are wishy-washy. They have some plan, some of their luggage is packed, they leave with time to make it, but unfortunately the unexpected occurs. And, because they didn’t plan for it, they miss their flight. Most investors are in this category. These people may or may not make it. It’s crapshoot.” “The third are flakes. They think they can figure everything out last minute. They wake up late; they leave late, and they never make it to their destination.” Wrap it all up by saying, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail, and my job is to ensure you have a plan and to get you to your flight on time.” We remember analogies and real world examples because we can relate to them. I once met an advisor who overcame the fee objection by the following. He said, “Look Mr. Mrs. Prospect/Client I’ll be the first to tell you if you’re looking for the cheapest in town, it’s not going to be me – If that’s what you’re looking for I recommend going to a discount brokerage. However, if you’re looking for someone to help send your kids to college and keep you on track for retirement, then that is me, and I would love to help you accomplish those goals.” Another Advisor uses a laptop computer analogy. He says, “Mr./Mrs. Prospect/Client if you were in the market for a laptop, how would you go about deciding which one to choose?” (Allowing them to respond) He then says, “For me, when I compare prices I look at features, quality and what I get in return for the price. Similarly, when clients work with us, it’s not because we are the lowest in cost, it’s because they know what they are getting in return. They know the value and quality we provide. They know that we take the time to understand each of their needs and provide customized financial solutions tailored to these requirements. And, most importantly, they know they are receiving first-class service.” One of my favorite strategies is to draw similarities by comparing what you do to your prospect’s profession. For instance, say you’re meeting with a doctor who doesn’t want to share any of his information. He’s being tough and is asking for recommendations without providing anything. You can say, “Dr. Prospect; I’m sure you would agree if I came into your office and had an issue you wouldn’t just take a quick look at me and pull out your prescription pad to write me a script. At least, I would hope not (giggle). No, you would have the nurse take my vitals, document my family history, and then you would ask me questions about my symptoms and what I was experiencing. Only then, once you’ve collected enough information, would you feel comfortable diagnosing me and recommending treatment. It’s the same thing here. I can’t just tell you what’s going to be the right ‘cure’ for you. I have to collect individual data so that I can ensure I give you the appropriate recommendation.” Drawing similarities to a person’s field is a highly effective strategy, and one of my favorites.
Selling Technique 3 – Storytelling
The most effective selling technique, in my opinion, is storytelling. Since birth humans have been programmed to listen to stories. Through stories, people relate and you begin to trigger the emotional buying trigger. Think about everyday life. The GoFund Me page that you come across on your facebook feed has a story. The Americas Got Talent Contestants in tonight’s show have a story. Even the song you listen to on your way home has a story and even may remind you of a story or point in time in your life. What makes a good story? It doesn’t have to be long, it just has to get the point across. It has to have the message that you want the listener to take away. For the sake of overcoming an objection, it has to have obstacles and those obstacles or challenges were overcome.
Most prospects and clients will make financial decisions based on emotion. If you lead your proposals with 50-page reports and financial data, your prospect, or client will feel overwhelmed and they will more than likely “need time to think about it.” If you share stories draw on analogies and give real world examples, you make it easy for your prospects or client to digest the information and by doing so you increase your chances of winning the business.