Know What You’re Selling…

Know what you are selling…

While it may seem obvious, I’ll bet that more salespeople get this wrong than right (by a large margin).

I recently had lunch with someone who has been in my virtual network for sometime now, but who I’d just met for the first time. He’s a financial advisor, and in all honesty, I realized that we’d had different expectations for the meeting (I’ll go into setting expectations in a future post). I was trying to simply extend thanks for some information he had given me (nothing to do with financial advice), but he was looking to sign me as a new client.

Since I really had no interest in hiring a new financial advisor, the lunch turned into a coaching session. I found myself searching for something to talk about, trying to prevent a very uncomfortable hour and a half. Fortunately, he was very open to being coached as well, and in the end we both received value from the meeting (I got a blog post out of it…).

As far as financial advisors go, he has more credentials than most, and certainly far more than is required for licensing. So, as he was trying to find ways to set himself apart, his focus was on his PhD and other educational differentiators. The problem was, I didn’t care- and neither would most of his potential clients. This leads me into the first point I made in this post-know what you are selling.

There’s an old saying: “that guy could sell ice to Eskimos.” It’s meant to describe overly charismatic individuals, but I believe it highlights something more. The fact that no matter what product or service you are selling – that’s not what your customers are buying – they’re buying solutions to problems. Perhaps the most famous example of this comes from the movie The Wolf of Wall Street – “sell me this pen…”.

Back to my lunch meeting- what is a financial advisor selling? If your answer has anything to do with financial instruments – please stop right there – you are going down the wrong path. Most people don’t know enough about investment options to make educated decisions, and even fewer are willing to spend their retirement money on something they don’t understand. What people do want is the security of knowing they will be able to retire by a certain age and support a specific lifestyle. That’s what a financial advisor is selling – a financial future that fits clients’ specific needs.

Salespeople only sell one thing, regardless of the product/service or industry – solutions to problems. And they accomplish that through trust.

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