Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Provoking The Sale To Close How advisors are moving away from solution-based and product-focused selling methods

Maribeth Kuzmeski, MBA
RedZone Marketing

In today’s difficult market conditions, it has become more important than ever to generate a stream of new buyers to keep the firm operating in the profit-zone and not operating out of fear. And, there are certain sales strategies that are working right now that are reducing the fears and paralysis of investors and getting them to take action quickly.

A Provocative Selling Approach:
In the March 2009 issue of Harvard Business Review, “In a Downturn, Provoke Your Customers,” the article details a unique and successful approach to sales. It is a sales approach that, interestingly, some financial advisors have already been using in this downturn with success. The article calls the technique, “Provocation-based selling.” It is different from the traditional consultative selling approach that is focused on a solution and goes way beyond product-based selling that is focused on features and benefits.

Now, provoking a client to buy must of course be in their best interest. The objective is to persuade a prospect that the solutions you have do not just sound good, they are essential. But this approach doesn’t focus on the obvious concerns an investor has. Instead, the approach directs a prospect to the other things that perhaps are of even greater concern to them.

One advisor who is having a lot of success in these difficult times gathering new clients and new assets shared how he uses this provocation-based selling approach. It is focused on getting the client to do something because a client who does nothing right now could be permanently affecting their future.

“I regularly hold seminars to introduce people to my firm. Recently, during my appointments with the people who attended my most recent seminar I realized that I was going to have to go way beyond the obvious in order to get anyone to invest today,” the advisor said. “But I felt so strongly that for some people, having exposure to the market was the right thing (in the right products of course).”

A husband and wife he was meeting with recently began describing all their concerns about their current assets invested with another advisor. They said that the stock market was too volatile, they didn’t want to lose more money, they were scared they may be eating their dog’s food in retirement, etc. So the advisor took this as an opportunity to ask about ALL of their concerns - not just the immediate stock market issues. “Let’s lay it all out,” the advisor said. And then he went to the white board in his conference room and began to write.

The couple, in their early 60’s, were concerned about their health, concerned about the well-being of their children and grandchildren, really wanted to enjoy life on their terms and not just get by, were scared they’d have to sell their second home in Virginia, wanted to leave a legacy to their favorite cause/ charity so that all they worked for would live on when they pass, etc. The advisor kept writing and writing.

The advisor then started asking them what their solutions were for some of the most important things on their list. How would they avoid a negative conclusion and achieve their goals?

It turned out that none of their life-long goals would be possible without an alteration in their financial situation. “Not having the money invested and not giving themselves a strategy for growth and protection would have meant that surely most of the things they worked their lives for wouldn’t be possible,” the advisor said. “Especially if they put the money under their mattress.”

Now this may seem like a common sense strategy, but the advisors that have been using their version of this provocation-selling approach say that it is more complex than it seems. This approach takes the focus beyond today’s investment situation and gets to the real heart of the matter. The advisor ultimately wants and gets the prospect to come to the conclusion that they can’t afford not to do something.

And, according to the advisors using this technique, it rarely involves getting into the specifics of the stock market history, or their opinions of the market and whether it is at the bottom, middle or wherever. It is all about the person’s concerns on the other side of the table. It also typically shortens the sales cycle because the client wants to make the decision. Advisors have shared with us significant results in closing new business – especially as it compares to the decline in new business that some of their colleagues are unfortunately experiencing.

The Steps of the Provocation Sale:

  1. Uncover the client’s hidden concerns.
  2. Raise those critical concerns to the forefront and their potential solutions.
  3. Develop your provocative view point on their critical concerns based on your solutions.
  4. Share a story about another client (keeping their name and telling details confidential, of course) in a similar situation and the solutions you prescribed for them.
  5. Close on the provocation that gives them the NEED to take action and do business with you now in order to solve their crucial concerns.

Traditional solution-based selling has the individual considering whether you can solve their immediate needs (i.e. keep them from losing money in the stock market). Provocation-selling transforms their thinking about what their deeper challenge really is and that you have the solution.

Be sure to hear Maribeth LIVE online on December 8th. Find out more here:

1 comment:

Alexander said...

A good post very interesting