If you want to build a thriving practice based on getting great results for your clients, confidently selling your services and being an effective influencer are essential skills.
Yet it seems many advisers lack confidence or struggle with selling their services far more than necessary.
For example, they may feel under pressure, fear rejection or lack the kind of soft skills required to go beyond a purely transactional relationship.
One of the reasons that selling gets a bad name is because it is often done poorly. Yet when done well it is an act of high service to your client and an experience they enjoy.
There is something right at the heart of successfully selling your services that once understood, changes everything.
So, as we explore the key factors behind what makes someone highly effective at selling their services, it's worth beginning by looking at three common symptoms that can emerge from feelings of pressure.
Thinking you need to use sales techniques
A while back I worked with an adviser who was convinced that sales techniques were essential to getting a client to ‘sign up’.
In particular, he said you had to be a good ‘closer’. So, we did a little reflection together.
I asked him to think of one or two of his very best clients. People who he liked and trusted and who liked and trusted him.
I then asked him about the process.
He said when he was with these people he was never thinking about any kind of technique. He always wanted to give them time to think through their decisions and ask as many questions as they needed to.
So, the relationship was open, there was no feeling of pressure (either for him or his client) and there was complete trust.
I then asked him to think of a situation when things did not flow so well.
He thought of a client that he did not warm to and found ‘difficult’. They did not have a good rapport and the client always questioned the advice and rarely took it.
I was curious. How come when things were flowing naturally and easily he was not thinking about using any kind of technique? Surely if techniques were so important, then they should help you overcome the more challenging situations and clients?
The truth is that as soon as you start thinking about applying a technique (like trying to ‘close’ someone) it can easily compromise trust because it dehumanises the process.
There is also an incorrect assumption that techniques get the result for you. But if this were true they would always work. This is clearly not the case. In fact, there is something far more important which is always at play.
A fundamental truth
It is essential to realise that clients will pick up on how you're feeling.
If you are feeling comfortable, clear-minded and completely free from pressure, clients will have a great experience of you. Conversations will feel natural, easy and enjoyable. Business will take care of itself and you will feel no need to use techniques.
However if you are feeling uncomfortable, under pressure and self-conscious then the client's experience of you is likely to be a poor one. Any attempt to use a sales technique from here will often come across as manipulative.
So the way you are feeling is the foundation upon which everything else is built.
In our next article, we will look at further symptoms of behaviour under pressure, and the ultimate solution to pressure-free selling and influence.