How to Sell Without Being Salesy

Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.

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Dear Readers,

For advisors, the idea of being a salesperson is distasteful at best, distressing at worst. When I presented at an AICPA conference, and I asked the audience to describe a salesperson, the responses were things like “slimy,” “used cars,” and “pushing insurance.” My recent article on dealing with difficult clients generated a response on APViewpoint from someone who said it reminded him of the “feel, felt, found” sales training that went on years ago.

It’s distressing that even acknowledging a client’s feelings and taking the time to understand what’s underneath their concerns would be considered as “salesy.”

Unfortunately for financial advisors who believe selling is wrong or bad, in order to grow one’s business and help as many investors as possible reach their goals, it’s important to sell. The best salespeople are not those with specific techniques, or those who try to one-up someone, or those who “overcome the objection.” The best salespeople are those who have a genuine interest in helping others, understanding their issues and concerns, and moving them to action somehow – even if the action is to decide against working with that particular advisor.

Without taking some steps, most prospects will never be aware of what you can do for them, and why it is important. This means telling your story, helping prospects to tell your story to their loved ones, and sharing what you can do (and also what you can’t do). It means having an orientation toward growth by letting the market know you are available and can help them.