questionnaire provided by my firm.” “Send
it to me,” I said. He did. Gasp.
It was seven pages of dense financial
questions. The first few pages plunged
into seven tables gathering info on assets,
income, and retirement savings.
Me: How many second appointments
do you get?
FA: Hardly any.
My client had fallen into one of eight
potholes on the yellow brick road to sales
success. He got his discovery interview
all wrong. Big mess.
The questions on this and other similar “financial planning” questionnaires
do not address this fact: The prospects
in your office came for help. Diving into
investment questions first gives them no
clue they can get help, because you do
not know what their problem is!
Do not ask questions about investments
until you find out why the individual or
couple is in your office in the first place.
In my opinion, the greatest sales book of all
time is “How I Raised Myself from Failure
to Success Through Sales” by Frank Bettger.
While first published in 1952, it is still
in print. You can buy it on Amazon. You
should own it, read it, absorb it and put
it into practice.
Perhaps Bettger’s most famous statement is: “Show a man what he wants, and
he will move heaven and earth to get it.”
(Keep in mind this book was written in
1952. The sales people then were sales-
men. I’m quoting Bettger as he wrote it,
not as it would be written today.)
Me: That makes sense, doesn’t it?
You: Sure, and I’m guessing I find out
what people want by asking them questions, correct?
Me: Bingo! You ask questions. But get
this: Countless financial planning questionnaires provide lists of lifetime goals. (Don’t
believe me? Google “financial planning
questionnaire.”) You are invited to show
these to the client and ask them to choose
the lifetime goal that is most appropriate.
Chuck that questionnaire, OK? Your
questionnaire should be the questions
you want to ask. You are the person they
came to see. You are the expert. The ques-
tionnaire should be yours
Before you say a word about invest-
ments, find out what your prospective cli-
ents want, what they fear, what they value.
By discovering what moves them, you can
fulfill Bettger’s commandment, “Show a
man what he wants.” Then and only then
should you gather the investment data.
Eight Steps on the Road to Sales
To develop a professional grade presentation, you need to master these eight areas
of sales. In the remaining space in this
article, I cannot do them all justice, but
I can tell you where these potential sinkholes are: ( 1) branding, ( 2) discovery, ( 3)
proposal preparation, ( 4) client education,
( 5) proposal presentation, ( 6) question
answering, ( 7) closing and ( 8) onboarding.
Remember, sales is a step-by-step
process. These are the steps. Properly executed, you walk right over the potholes.
Branding: Ever wonder why successful financial advisors have a “brag wall?”
Vanity? Nope. Branding.
A well-designed brag wall should communicate one’s credentials. Isn’t that what
happens in a doctor’s office?
Your branding tools are: brag wall, website, LinkedIn, brochure, and references
(if your firm allows it). Branding yourself
as an expert financial advisor shortens the
selling cycle and closes a higher percentage.
Discovery: Have at least two written
questionnaires. One gathers info about
the family, values, and goals. What are
these individuals trying to accomplish?
Why have they come to see you?
Keep asking these questions until you
are certain. The second questionnaire
gathers the financial data.
Proposal Preparation: Failure on
this step guarantees not just a pothole,
but that you will fall into a sinkhole and
never be seen again as far as this prospect is concerned.
The worst proposal I have ever seen was
prepared by one of the major firms. It was
37 pages long with 11 pages of disclaimers.
It even included charts of Monte Carlo
simulations that look like multi-colored
spaghetti hurled on a wall. A good proposal should be five or six pages.
Client Education: A major reason
people don’t buy is: They do not have a
clue what you are talking about! You have
jumped into dollar cost averaging, indexing,
ETFs and (gasp) point-and-figure charting.
Your prospects, Bob Jones, founder
of Bob’s Plumbing Supply, and his wife
Betty, homemaker extraordinaire, do
not even know the difference between
a common stock and a preferred stock.
You’re talking about indexing? Dollar
cost averaging? What on earth is that?
ETFs? Is that a vitamin supplement?
Proposal Presentation: I’ve run
out of space. I still need to cover proposal
presentation, question answering (more
important than you have any reason to
believe), closing and onboarding.
You can find the rest of this article on
my “Good Way to Sell” website at www.
Get it. Read it. Overhaul your presentation.
(If you believe you might be suffering
from Sales Skills Deficiency Disorder, feel
free to download “The Good Way to Sell.”
It’s a compilation of nine articles on selling,
seven of them from the original Research
Magazine series. We have updated the
original series and added two additional
articles at www.billgoodmarketing.com/
Bill Good is chairman of Bill Good Marketing. His Gorilla CRM System helps advisors
double their production or work half as much;
see www.billgood.com. His seminar program,
“No More Pies,” helps advisors manage ETF
portfolios using technical analysis; see www.
nomorepies.net. And his blog, financialadis-orsmarketing.net, has useful information for
advisors who need to beef up their marketing.
To preview Bill as a speaker, see his You Tube