Since this is a blog post I’ll get right to it. Not enough emphasis is being placed on closing. The reasons we typically hear range from a fear of being too salesy to the reluctance to confront the mortality of a deal. Flashbacks to Alec Baldwin’s famous “A-B-C” sales office scene in Glengarry Glen Ross also add to the pall. But to understand how to improve this, it’s important to understand some of the success factors that drive high close ratios:
1. Prospect fits criteria of past success and aligns with core competencies.
2. Initial contact came via credible outreach or respected referral.
3. Rapport was built and an authentic connection made.
4. Dialog revealed a true need or aspiration not yet met consistent with success factor #1.
5. Other influencers in the sales process were identified.
6. Several solution ideas were exchanged and feedback provided.
It's at Next where all the trouble starts. Is the client supposed to ask for the order? Does the client know that they are at the end of your process?
What we recommend is a meeting among parties that acts as a collective gathering of where everyone is in the relationship. We call this meeting The Relationship Review™. It’s an agenda as much as it is a conversation designed to do one thing: get the client to realize that it’s time to decide. Together you’ve left no stone unturned and it’s time to act. Here’s the flow:
Bottom Line: The goal of this conversation is to continue to engage the prospect. More important - you want the prospect to see the full extent of your effort. This meeting should demonstrate the depth of agreement on key points, the uniqueness of the needs uncovered and the pragmatism in your recommendation. You want to create the impression that you've both been diligent. The ask then, is very simple. You have demonstrated your/your firms’ commitment – now you are simply asking for theirs.
Need to improve the closing skills on your team? Check out our program Taking the Stress Out of Asking for the Business. Delivered online or at a location of your choice! Click here to learn more: www.billwaltonsalestraining.com/uploads/2/6/7/2/26723831/wmfactsheetpack-04-07-18_1.pdf
The perceived value of sales management and the nature of the role have morphed over the years. From the “top closer” to “product expert” to "administrator", the role is being redefined as there has never been a more dire mandate for new client acquisition.
Investing in sales leadership can yield top line revenue gains of up to 29% - Wilson Learning
To get there, help sales leaders adopt these 4 roles that are helping firms grow their topline:
Role 1: Enabler of Success
The bottom line - sound sales and performance management works best when it supports striving rather than keeping score. If you’re hiring right, your best people want to see the connection of their work to strategy, and strategy’s connection to value for clients. Your moderate (“movable middle”) performers need your coaching and training to help them get to their next level of performance. These four roles applied simultaneously will help your sales teams get there.
Click here to learn more about how Bill Walton Sales Training can help you develop high performing sales leaders in your organization: https://www.billwaltonsalestraining.com/wealth-management1.html
So here we are in the second quarter of 2018. If your numbers are on track – excellent! I was always a big fan of frontloading my sales year so I’m sure there’s a lot of you out there that aren’t satisfied. So here’s an entry that might help boost your close rates a bit. According to research from our last book, Taming the Four Headed Dragon, division and complex managers reported that less than 30% of advisors were closing prospects on an outcome. Likely fearing rejection or appearing too pushy, they’re letting too many opportunities sit on the pipeline with no defined path to next.
It’s all in how you create “fit”
Prospects know that any wealth management firm still standing is capable. But clients aren't buying on value proposition and history. They are buying based on fit. When there’s fit, prospects are likely to take action. When there’s fit, they share more. And when prospect’s share more, you receive a salesperson’s greatest gift– the client’s spoken words.
Use the CPS™ model to close on “fit”
A reliable way to sell around fit is to design prospect conversations around a specific client type with an associated set of problems that your firm’s solutions can address. We created a framework for closing on fit and it's called CPS™ – Client Type-Problem-Solution. By engaging in conversations grounded in who they are, their dissatisfaction with the current state (or goals not yet met), you create fit for an eventual recommendation because there’s context in the dialogue. Here are a few examples of how you can achieve greater fit based on some of client types our clients are engaging:
Messaging Example – Using CPS™ for Fit
So that's the theory on CPS. Here is some sample language to consider when designing your next conversation with a new prospect:
“Mr. and Mrs. Tyson thanks for meeting with me today. I was thinking about our last conversation about your honeymoon and your excitement for your future together – congratulations again. We work with many newly married couples that for the first time are thinking about comingling finances and planning for a future beyond just them.” [CLIENT TYPE]
“These clients think they have it covered with the numerous retirement accounts between them. But what we are finding is that many of these couples’ holdings are not asset allocated and thus hedged against market downturns or focused on a future goal like college or a second home.” [PROBLEM]
“So we help couples in your situations in a few ways. We ease them into the concept of combined finances by talking about joint goals and the timeframes for them. We tap into their investor personality and determine where each party might to retain some independence with their investments. I had a couple recently agree to start an IRA together with a few target dates mutual funds. They were pleased to able to take a step forward together while retaining some flexibility for each other.” [SOLUTION FIT]
Look for part two of the series as we talk about structuring the closing meeting. To learn more about our approach to closing, download a free chapter on closing from our book Taming the Four Headed Dragon.
If you sell in the B-to-B space you know that at some point Procurement or a formal buying committee will request to engage with you. Not new news. But what they want to see and what they expect has changed dramatically in the last 5 years and you may not be winning as many deals as a result.
For years I made a good living teaching presentation skills to salespeople. It was fun; you could see folks improve right in front of your eyes and for participants, watching your video was never as bad as it felt recording it. But with new business pitches being held in different meeting environments and the needs of stakeholders changing, the simple rules of touch, turn and talk don’t fully apply.
In most cases, your new business pitch was already submitted via some form of formal proposal. I can’t tell you how many sales teams try and recant all that was proposed. I literally had a client come to me with an 85-page deck for a 90-minute presentation! Well, the last time I checked 85 will get you a ticket in more ways than one. What clients want is to hear from the folks that will handle their business day –to-day. They want to meet the delivery mechanism of the service.
Doesn't sound so bad, right? Wrong. These subject matter experts rarely present, and are rarely asked about who they are and the significance of their role. These are the things that you’ll need to nail in a new business pitch. In fact – I hate the word pitch because what you’re really creating is an experience.
Here are 6 things you can do to ensure your best showing at your next new business presentation:
1. Assign a team leader. There HAS to be someone to act as the ambassador of the agenda - to direct the energy and focus of the assembled team.
2. Clear the agenda. Rather than launch right in, share that your team is prepared to tackle all of it. But ask if there are areas of deeper emphasis client stakeholders would like to focus on. Ideally you’d know this going in.
3. Know each other well. The client is looking for how oiled your machine is – you need to have regard for one another, be able to speak to each other’s strengths and connect to the purpose of the meeting and the client’s requirements.
4. Practice handoffs. What gets awkward in presentations is when it’s your turn as the presenter who rarely presents. Wait for your cue from the team leader; make your key points and end on a confident point. Then hand it off to the next presenter with an intro as to who they are and their significance.
5. Expect the tech to fail. If you are going to the client site, expect the outlets to be far away, the projector to have a bad bulb and the client to have forgotten their pen. Bring perfection with you – take an extra extension cord, power strip, projector and pens.
6. Pledge your commitment. The close at these presentations can be awkward, but they don't have to be. For the selling team, affirm your commitment by stating it and reiterating a key point from your presentation that was important to the client. Then, acknowledge that the client has a process, but that your team feels you’ve earned the right for their commitment and that your organization will give the client its highest energy and priority. And that's it. Assume equal business stature in these meetings. With the right prep, you wont have to worry about wearing an air of confidence. It will already be all over you. Good luck and good selling.
To make the most out of your next new business pitch, please contact us at 917-439-3271 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Princeton, NJ: September 14, 2017 - Today we delivered an Executive Briefing on 5 Trends Impacting Client Acquisition in Wealth Management in 2018. Sorry you couldn't make it!
Key themes: The struggling economies of developed nations, unrelenting expectations around service and technology, and the need for transparent pricing models, go-market-strategies with the right mix of service, tech and navigation, and client type segmentation. To download the presentation, click the PDF below. For a personal narrative on the topic, write to Bill Walton at email@example.com.
Contact: Bill Walton
Tel.: (917) 439-3271
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Princeton, NJ September 5, 2017 - Bill Walton Sales Training is upping the impact of the total "experience" around the finals in Retirement Benefits selling. The firm has rolled out an enhanced version of their Value Creating Finals Experience Training. In their new "From invite to good night" approach, the firm is injecting sleuthing, team management and personal messaging into the best practice of presenting to an agenda with multiple stakeholders. "In our view the RFP is already submitted. What prospects want is a window into how it will be to work with you and if you have the business acumen chops to serve our culture," says Bill Walton, the firm's founder and curriculum developer. "We are helping firms mesh our training with their value proposition and engage with live prospecting teams." added Walton.
Bill Walton Sales Training are experts in client acquisition in Wealth Management.
I think we’re all surprised by the fact we are in late August. We lead full lives and the lives of our prospects are full as well. But coming out of the Labor Day holiday we will all be met with a need for a plan to close the year. Now is the time to take stock of what’s worked, what hasn't and what we can all do differently to bring in a solid 2017. Here are 4 keys to accelerating your client acquisition efforts to finish strong:
Part 1: You and client acquisition – you are the indispensable resource!
To accelerate your pipeline, get prospects to see themselves in the relationship with you. Most probably they are working with another FA and they want to see if the effort is worth it to change. YOU ARE WORTH IT. Immerse yourself in the issues, challenges and aspirations of your best prospect types – make sure your messaging reflects them:
When prospects sense that you understand their unique situation they share more. The more they share the greater the impact of your recommendations. Be “issue fluent” in the issues that matter most to your prospects. Improve your business acumen and let your COIs know of your focus and why:
People have interesting relationships with their money and their pets. And they’re not always rational. Data shows the confidence level of prospects actually goes DOWN after a first meeting as the prospect of change and the skepticism of someone new doing better sets in. Your first meting goal has got to be to secure the second meeting!
Bonus – Closing: Let prospects know how much you’ve done to their benefit!
By this time you’ve followed your playbook to get to this stage. But the prospect doesn't have a copy. Bring them back to the value you’ve both created over time.
For more support for your client acquisition efforts this fall, visit www.billwaltonsalestraining.com or write to Bill Walton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
People who manage to get a lot accomplished each day aren't superhuman, they've just mastered a few simple habits. Some may be easy to guess: Keep your desk organized and aim for around eight hours of sleep a night.
In this episode, Moment Masters Show Host Shakira M. Brown a.k.a. Small Biz Whisperer interviews Bill Walton, President of Bill Walton Sales Training, a national authority on client acquisition, who provides helpful strategies to help you rethink productivity in a way that will provide you with not only more efficiency but also a better sales strategy. Now who wouldn’t want that? Click here to listen and learn how!
For sellers there’s always time to enjoy the lingering reverie of a sale gone well. The perfect touch points, the internal sponsorship, the business value you personally brought to the sale are all parts of a great deal. Who doesn't want more of that? But more and more of us are sitting scratching our heads trying to figure out why a prospect isn’t converting, why an opportunity isn’t advancing.
In competitive sales situations in wealth management, there’s a force out there to be reckoned with and it’s not about you or your firm. It’s not about the markets, and it’s certainly not about the lack of “wealth”. So what’s happening?
Financial professionals need to realize that anyone worth working with is likely engaging another advisor. In a way you want that – you want a prospect that sees the value of advice and thought partnership. More good news, many investors are mildly satisfied with their current advisor.
But it’s the negative perceptions around change that’s slowing the sales process down or stalling it altogether. Some see too much effort in locating statements, consolidating accounts or learning a new platform and user interface. Others fear the time it will take to educate another advisor on their affairs. Some just hate change. Period. So we de-veloped a diagnostic for assessing and working with prospects based on their appetite for change. For simplicity’s sake (and for a little fun) we’ve labeled these change types as five animals: The tiger, the eager beaver, the wise owl, the chicken and the alligator.
This prospect is excited by new and innovative developments in investing. They see change as opportunity rather than a risk. They ask inquisitive and challenging questions based on their own research.
Questions to assess if you’re working with a Tiger:
POINT: These are great clients to work with. Keep them informed, keep your commitments, and maintain a good information flow. They are low maintenance and will remain relatively loyal.
THE EAGER BEAVER
The eager beaver is excited by new and beneficial solutions and will eagerly be a proponent to their contacts. They’re often the first to adopt new ideas and will share their knowledge and insights with others.
Questions to assess if you’re working with an Eager Beaver:
POINT: Eager Beavers are your de facto salesforce so fully educate them on your process so they can accurately communicate it to others. Keep the idea flow rich.
THE WISE OWL
This prospect is willing to change with good reason. At the outset they see more risk than opportunity in change. They’re cautious about change and need time to think and deliberate.
Questions to assess if you’re working with a wise owl:
POINT: This change type is highly analytical, which provides a great opportunity
to inform and educate. There is comfort in the details for this change type.
Chicken’s are fearful and skeptical of change and will not change until it is proven and the majority of their peers have done so. The more you try to convince them, the more they will resist.
Questions to assess if you’re working with a chicken:
POINT: If you have good research at your fingertips combined with solid testimonials, the Chicken can be a valuable prospect.
This prospect is very alluring. They have asset levels that make them attractive and they are receptive to meeting. But their theory is, “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” and will work to refute your claims and the elements of your approach. Alligators despise change and will adopt only when it becomes the standard.
Questions to assess if you’re working with an alligator:
POINT: You may be tempted to work with the Alligator, especially if he or she has sizable assets or engages in serious debate that feels like interest. Be aware that change means loss to the Alligator, and you may wind up spinning your wheels with a prospect that will never commit.
Have any other thoughts on change and its impact on closing? Send us a note at email@example.com.
Coffee talk meetings are a great way to meet potential prospects. There’s typically no obligation on anyone’s part and coffee most often happens in comfortable places. Done well, coffee talk meetings can pave the way to a fruitful relationship. Unfortunately too many business developers are not thinking “pie”.
I’m occaisionally guilty of saying “I’d really love to pick your brain” or “When we get together I want to hear about your most pressing challenges”. I try not to make that the platform for all discussions but even the best slip up from time to time! Now we all know meetings like this can be really helpful – for us. What also tends to happen is the curse of “the two extremes”.
Extreme #1 - The seller totally surrenders the meeting to the prospect and scurries at the end to make a pitch or suggest a next step. It typically lacks context and faint pledges to email each other while jumping into cars never materialize.
Extreme #2 - On the other side of the spectrum is total domination – either pitching or questioning with little prospect engagement. These meetings feel good, but lack bite when attempting meaningful follow-up.
The best coffee talk meetings achieve the number one goal of any first meeting
– agreement to a second meeting.
So to have more productive meetings, think pie – you get half, and the prospect gets half. Also realize that your prospect wants to walk away with an asset for their time investment. This can be learning something new, a contact that can help their business, or an insight they would’ve never received without meeting you. Use this asset concept when setting the purpose and value of your next meeting.
Those of you who get caught in Extreme #1 should realize that this is your time too. Come prepared to engage the prospect in their issues or universal issues that you think they'd enjoy engaging in. For you Extreme #2 folks, work more curiosity into your conversations – think a smaller number of questions and push for clarity and intent.
What are your best coffee talk tips? Send me an email at bwalton@billwaltonsalestraining or join/post your thoughts in the Client Acquisition Group on LinkedIn.
Bill Walton Sales Training has over 60 years of collective Fortune 500 company experience in Sales, Sales Training and Field Sales Management. Our specialty is preparing individuals and organizations to present their value propositions in a way that results in higher close ratios. Our team are un-blurring the lines of differentiation between their client's fiercest competitors.