I plead guilty to enjoying a cold beer or two, and I’ve watched with amazement as the decade-long bull market in the craft beer industry shows no signs of abating.
Recently I was retained by a regional VP of sales for a large financial institution to evaluate the effectiveness of his team’s sale of investment advisory services provided to high-net-worth customers. He asked me to be a “mystery shopper,” and at his request, I met with one of his salespeople while posing as a high-net-worth customer considering the possibility of changing from my current financial advisor to another investment management firm.
Coincidentally, at the time I actually had a few concerns about my own personal financial advisor, and because I realized I might change firms as a result of my analysis, I told my client that in order to perform a realistic decision process, I would also meet with two of his company’s competitors. (It’s also why I asked to meet his best and most experienced advisor, figuring that’s who I’d want working for me should I decide to actually pick this firm.)
Over the next six weeks, I met as planned with the representatives of three different investment advisory firms, including one from my client’s firm. Each of the sales consultants was extremely effective at building rapport, making me feel comfortable, and creating a perception of caring.
Yet they all made the single most common mistake that salespeople in all industries make: They moved through the steps of their sales process—building trust, identifying needs, presenting their solutions, going for the close—without thinking about where I was in my decision-making process. They sold too fast.They put me on theirsales track, instead of joining me in mybuying process.
That’s why this book has the paradoxical title of “Slow Down, Sell Faster!” When you sell slower on each sales call—ask more questions and do many of the activities suggested in this book—your customers will buy faster. They will more fully recognize their needs and the urgency of those needs. The best solution (hopefully yours) will be more clearly defined and differentiated in ways the customer recognizes as important. It is this connection with the customer’s buying process that will differentiate you.
In this chapter, I want to talk in more detail about what I mean by saying these financial advisors sold too fast, discuss how customers buy, and present a new model of selling that matches the customer buying process.
My first face-to-face meeting with my client’s investment advisor went as follows (the labels are mine, the actions were the advisor’s):
Here are the five mistakes he made—all of which revolve around selling too fast:
Every salesperson wants to sell more. We all want to make more money and gain recognition for peak performance. As my experience with the financial advisor illustrates, the way to do this is to slow down.
Kevin Davis (Reno, NV) is president of TopLine Leadership, Inc., (www.toplineleadership.com), a sales and sales management training company serving clients from diverse sectors. He has 30-plus years of experience as a salesperson, sales manager, sales trainer, and consultant, and is the author of “Slow Down, Sell Faster!”