You're listening to “Financial Advisor Marketing”—the best show on the planet for financial advisors who want to get more clients, without all the stress. You're about to get the real scoop on everything from lead generation to closing the deal.
James is the founder of TheAdvisorCoach.com, where you can find an entire suite of products designed to help financial advisors grow their businesses more rapidly than ever before. Now, here is your host, James Pollard.
James: Yo, financial advisors, welcome to another episode of the Financial Advisor Marketing podcast. As always, I am your host, J-A-M-E-S, Mr. “Smoking Meat and Packing Heat” Pollard, and this episode is going to be about cheesy sales tactics I wish advisors would stop using.
Now, I've been told many times that I'm a great salesperson, and, typically, I don't have a problem accepting praise. If people tell me that I'm great at getting financial advisors more clients, I’ll say, Heck, yes, you're darn right I am, I'm one of the best in the world at that, because I worked hard at my skills and I am phenomenal at getting financial advisors more clients. But sales, meh, I'm not so sure. [01:13.3]
I never set out to be a great salesperson. I have never had the mentality that I am improving my sales skills. Sure, I have studied sales material. I've gone through so many different trainings, but I’ve never had that mentality that I was setting out and that my intention—I think “intention” is the right word to use here—that my intention was to be a wonderful salesperson.
What actually happened was I learned sales backwards. I am neck-deep in the marketing world. I come from the marketing world. I am a marketer first and foremost. I study marketing and copywriting. I've analyzed the greatest sales letters ever written from John Carlton to Gary Bencivenga to Gary Halbert to Dan Kennedy, just masters of their crafts. I’ve written them out by hand, so the patterns and the styles get seared into my brain. [02:01.3]
That advice came from one of the greatest of all time. His name is Gary Halbert. I just mentioned him, and he said that you should write out these sales letters by hand—99% of people who read his stuff, who even study copywriting, don't do this. They don't have the will to just sit there and write out by hand, but I’ve done it and it's one of the most valuable exercises I’ve ever done, because, like I said, those patterns and the styles got seared into my brain, seared into my mind.
Those letters written by those people were so successful, not because of some sorcery, but it was because they were dripping with sales effectiveness. Advertising copywriting, in the industry, it's called salesmanship in print. I learned sales because of that. I was studying salesmanship in print.
I had a feel for this. It was in my bones long before I started studying the traditional salespeople like Gitomer and Cardone and Hopkins and Tracy, and these sorts of sales trainers. I already had a good feel for it and people confused that with being a natural salesperson. [03:08.1]
I am not a natural salesperson. If you put me in a room and tried to start me off with just sales before putting me in the marketing world, I would've struggled so hard, but because I came from the marketing world, I got to know sales. What a lot of people should do, and if I could go back in time, I would've studied sales first. People should study sales first, then go to marketing. I would've learned what works in a one-on-one selling situation. That way I could easily recognize it in a one-to-many selling situation.
A lot of people get held back because they don't understand this. They don't realize if something works one on one, it will probably work one to many. A good example of this is giving a presentation to one person versus giving a presentation through a recorded webinar. [03:56.4]
The webinar is a marketing asset you can use again and again independently of your time and you can use those same sales skills inside the webinar, the same exact skills that are used to, quote unquote, “close” someone, and we're going to talk about that later in the episode. “Close” someone in a one-to-one presentation, one-to-one meeting.
They're the same skills that can be used to close an entire audience over a prerecorded webinar, an evergreen webinar, an asset that continues to work for you, whether you are working, whether you are sleeping, whether you're sick, whether you're on vacation, whether you're at a wedding, whether you're at a funeral, it doesn't matter.
Let's get into the cheesy sales mistakes I see financial advisors making, the mistakes I wish they would drop.
Number one is beating around the bush. Is it important to build rapport? Yes. Is it important to build a relationship? Yes. But at some point you need to be direct with people and clear about what you want, and financial advisors typically fall into one of two camps. There are some industries out there, there are some occupations where people kind of fall into the middle. I don't see that with financial advisors. I definitely see two extremes here. [05:02.0]
The first extreme, the first camp, is where they send long, 16-paragraph LinkedIn messages, asking for an appointment right away. This is too direct and it doesn't work very well. The second camp is where financial advisors will lurk around the prospective client. They'll engage with them, follow up, build rapport for a long, long time and never ask for the appointment.
There's a fine line between building rapport and being direct. Having a niche, I will admit, I talk about having a niche all the time. Here we go. I'm fulfilling my obligation to discuss niche marketing again. It makes it so much easier. If your marketing makes it clear that you serve dentists and you approach dentists directly, then it's not as weird. It's not as weird for you to be direct. But if you're a generalist and you approach people directly, then they have every right to be skeptical, because they don't see the information that you serve people just like them. They don't know who you are. [06:03.2]
I personally tend to be more direct than most people, and who knows, maybe I could benefit by not being as direct, but being direct is in my nature now. It's part of my identity. I’ve learned to be direct. I wasn't always direct. I am an introvert naturally, but when I want something, I just don't see the benefit in not telling people what I want. I see a benefit in being direct. I see the benefit in getting what I want, and the only way to get what I want is to ask for it.
But the bottom line is, right now, I'm not squeamish about selling because I know how much value I bring to financial advisors. I know both intellectually and spiritually that if a financial advisor does business with me, that advisor's life will be enriched as a result, and it will be enriched far more than the money the advisor gives up in the short term.
In my mind, when I ask people to do business with me, I am the one giving them money. They're not giving me money. I am giving them money. I'm not squeamish because I know I would want someone to give me money, too. [07:08.6]
When you dig deep into this, you realize I'm living life based on the golden rule. I am treating people the way I would want to be treated. If someone can enrich my life, I want that person to do it. I wouldn't want that person to be scared or to beat around the bush for six months, a year, two years, just liking and commenting, but never asking for the appointment, just hanging out, just checking in. “How are you doing? Bumping this to the top of your inbox,” but never asking for the appointment.
A big reason people aren't more direct is because they're afraid of being rejected. And I get it, no one likes rejection, but I would rather get rejected sooner rather than later, if it's going to happen anyway. That way, I can move on.
Plus, rejection is a qualifying mechanism. It means one of two things. First, it means that the person is genuinely without a need for the products and services being offered. If someone already has a brand new refrigerator, there's likely not a need for that person to buy the exact same make and model of refrigerator. It would make sense if that person rejected me. [08:12.2]
Second is that my messaging might be off. I may not be explaining my concepts as well as I otherwise could—and I am guilty of this. I think we all are. I will admit my flaws here. I am guilty of this. I have stuff that has transformed financial advisors’ lives, but there are people listening to this podcast episode right now who are still skeptical. It means I haven't done a good enough job of demonstrating to these people that I can provide more benefit than the dollars they're circulating in the marketplace. I take full and complete responsibility for that. I will do a better job in the future.
Number two, projecting their beliefs, and one of the best business books I’ve ever read, it's a little obscure book called How to Sell at Prices Higher Than Your Competitors by Lawrence Steinmetz, and I suggest you read it if you have trouble discussing price with your clients. But the most interesting part of that book was not about justifying prices. It was about the mental side of pricing. [09:14.3]
Mr. Steinmetz said he would fire any sales reps who were price shoppers in their own lives. Why? Because those sales reps would project their price-shopping beliefs onto their prospects. The sales reps would mistakenly believe that their prospects buy on price, and in reality price is almost always more important in the mind of the seller than the buyer.
The person trying to sell the price ends up doing all sorts of mental jumping jacks to justify that price or worrying about what prospects think or worrying about charging too much. But price is relative. Is $100,000 a lot for a car? It depends. What if it's a beat up 2003 Toyota Camry with 200,000 miles? Ooh, $100,000 for that bad boy, gasp. Yeah, that's a little too much, right? That might be a lot of money. But what if it's a brand new Rolls-Royce? Then it's not much money at all. [10:10.8]
And just because you can't afford something or you don't want to buy something, doesn't mean someone else won't want it. You know Depends, the adult diapers? I have no need for Depends right now. Thank God, thank heavens, thank everyone, thank L. Ron Hubbard, thank Buddha that I don't need to wear the Depends right now. Maybe one day I will, so I'm not going to pass judgment on those who need it, but if someone tried to sell me that, I wouldn't need them. I would say no. And it would be wrong of me to look at someone who has a need for Depends and for me to project my belief, “Oh, I don't need these” or “These are silly” or whatever, I wouldn't want to do that. I would not want to do that. It would be a mistake.
The same thing is for people who are selling exercise equipment who don't really use it. My argument would be that you need to use it and you need to believe in your product. But you shouldn't project your belief, just because you think something is unnecessary or something is frivolous. [11:09.8]
There's a golden paper clip, I think it's gold, that Tiffany offers. It's several thousand dollars, I think, for this paper clip. Just because you think it's frivolous, that you think it's a waste to spend that much money on a paper clip, doesn't mean someone else thinks that.
The same is true with beliefs about selling. If you have a belief that selling is a bad thing, that's what you will project onto your prospective clients. You will believe that you are doing a bad thing, that you should feel guilty and ashamed. If you have a belief that selling is a wonderful service, that you're enriching other people's lives, then you will project that, too. There are two sides to the same coin.
You will feel incredible about what you do and how you help people, so you can project your beliefs in a good way, but you should not necessarily project your beliefs at all. I would rather have you be neutral than either negative or positive, but if you can't help yourself from projecting your beliefs, at least make sure you're projecting some good ones, or I don't even want to say good ones. I should say beliefs that serve you. [12:13.7]
Hey, financial advisors. If you'd like even more help building your business, I invite you to subscribe to James' monthly paper-and-ink newsletter, “The James Pollard Inner Circle”. When you join today, you'll get more than $1,000 worth of bonuses, including exclusive interviews that aren't available anywhere else. Head on over to TheAdvisorCoach.com/coaching to learn more.
Number three, focusing on closing instead of opening. One of the most hyped up parts of selling in sales training is the close. There are entire books, seminars and programs about closing, and in sales terms, closing is the moment when a prospect decides to become a client. You're supposed to use the Ben Franklin close or the bear trap close, alternate choice close or whatever it's called, in order to get that person to make a commitment. [13:04.8]
But guess what? I tell financial advisors to focus on opening instead of closing, because you could be the best closer in the world, but if nobody is in front of you, then it doesn't matter, and I’ve found that a mediocre closure with a full pipeline can beat the pants off a great closure with a small pipeline.
Let me say it again. I’ve found that a mediocre closure with a full pipeline can beat the pants off a great closer with a small pipeline. Okay? Now, of course, closing is important. I'm not telling you to write it off entirely. I just think it's overrated. So many people focus on closing when they should be focused on getting in front of more people.
Let's talk numbers. Which would you rather have—100 prospects with a 20% closing rate or 20 prospects with a 75% closing rate? If you could do math, you’d realize that having more prospects is the better deal. Plus, plus, numbers aside, having a full pipeline gives you an incredible psychological edge. It gives you the ability to say, “Next,” and quickly move on if someone rejects you. [14:20.8]
I had an email exchange with an Inner Circle member who is renting a mailing list. This mailing list has 10,000 people in his niche. He's going to mail the way I describe in the newsletter. Let's have a moment of silence, thoughts, and prayers for everybody who is not subscribed, seriously.
The typical direct mail response rate is usually about 2%, but that varies a lot based on the list and what's being mailed. If the list is garbage, the response rate could be zero. If the list is amazing, but the offer is garbage, the response rate could still be zero. Okay, that's my disclaimer.
But this guy is doing it right, and if I were a betting man, I would say, he's going to get at least a 2% response rate on this list with his offer. That means he's going to get at least—let's count it up. What’s 2% of 10,000? Gasp, 200 appointments from this one mailing alone at least. [15:12.7]
Could be 400, could be 600, I don't know yet. He doesn't know yet because he hasn't done it, I don't think. I do know that if this works, he should rent the list again. He should mail it again. He should mail it until he hits break even.
But let's do some math. Let's switch gears and go back to numbers again. Let's say it costs him $5,000 to rent the list. Plus, another $10,000 for the mailing, so 10,000 different mailers, a dollar a pop. I'm keeping the math nice and easy. You can get your mailing down to less than that. You can spend a little bit more, who knows? But I'm saying $15,000 total. Divide that by 200 and you get a cost per appointment of $75.
How many appointments would you buy if you could get them for $75 each? And these aren't just random people either. These are all people in his niche. These are people he would want to work with. It didn't take him six months. It took him maybe, I don't know, half a day total. He didn't have to spend five years posting on social media. He didn't have to hurt his fingers and his ears making cold calls. [16:16.8]
Imagine making 10,000 cold calls. Now imagine sending 10,000 mailers where someone else is doing the work. You can put a stamp on something and another person will come to your mailbox, pick that thing up, take it from Delaware, my home state, the greatest estate in the country.
People sleep on Delaware. They don't realize that it's close to Washington, Philadelphia, Baltimore, New York City beaches, and it's one of the flattest states in the country, which means it's incredible for driving, but I digress.
Somebody else will take that letter. Another human being will work for you for the price of a stamp. Take that letter from Delaware and take it to San Francisco, California, all the way across the country for the price of a stamp. They will put that letter in the other person's mailbox and that person will go out and check it and open at his or her leisure. [17:08.2]
You can get an entire page or two or three or four to give your message and make your case. Don't you think that's one of the best things? Don't you think that's a marketing opportunity that maybe you should seize? Focus on opening.
Next mistake, next cheesy sales tactic. I don't even know what this is. It’s sales mistakes or sales tactics, one of those things. Number four, ignoring probabilities. This could be an entire podcast episode by itself, but I'm going to give you one specific example about what sales trainers call hot and cold streaks.
The date, picture this. Do you know, have you ever watched Golden Girls with Sophia, the oldest lady there where she says, “Picture it, Sicily in 1918,” or whatever? So, I'm going to do what she does. Picture it. August, 1913, the location is the Monte Carlo Casino. It was an ordinary night until someone noticed that the roulette wheel landed on black several times in a row. [18:12.6]
People got interested. They started placing bigger bets. They thought that if the ball had fallen on black so many times, it had to come up red sometime soon. But it didn't. Spin 24 landed on black, so that's 24 times in a row that this ball landed on black. Gamblers up the ante, spin 25 landed on black. They bet even more, confident that the next spin would be red. They were going to get rich. But Spin 26 landed on black and the casino made millions along the way.
This is the gambler's fallacy. It's the belief that a random event is more or less likely to happen, based on the results from a previous event. People thought that the ball landing on red was more likely to happen because 20 something times before it had landed on black. That's the gambler's fallacy. [19:10.0]
Another classic example involves flipping a coin. If the coin lands on heads seven times in a row, people will mistakenly argue that this increases the likelihood of it finally landing on tails, but, in reality, it's still a 50-50 chance. The previous events have no impact on the future ones. I wish more financial advisors understood this and applied it to their sales and their prospecting process, because it will prevent them from going on these hot or these cold streaks.
For example, getting harshly rejected 10 times in a row, it can play tricks on your mind. I understand this, I get rejected all the time. But if you think about it objectively, previous rejections have nothing to do with your future results. Absolutely nothing. Each interaction with a prospective client should be, in theory, at least, a completely isolated event. As such, if you're working with a sales system with a 10% probability of success, it will continue to have that same probability no matter what happens. Everything in between is purely random. [20:14.7]
Sadly, financial advisors who get on a, quote-unquote, “cold streak” with prospective clients, they're quick to beat themselves up, will lose hope in the system, and when this happens, the system doesn't fail the advisor. The advisor fails the system. That's an important distinction.
A huge, huge percentage of sales success comes down to consistently exploiting probabilities. If you keep showing up, you will develop a long-term average. This is not theory. This is not my opinion. This is math. If your long-term average is 10% and you get in front of 100 people, you are going to get 10 people to respond on average. If you show up in front of a thousand people, you are going to get 100 people to respond on average. [20:59.5]
It's up to you to get to the point where you know your averages, where you can exploit there's probabilities, where you can use them to your advantage—and if you're smart, you'll try to improve those probabilities over time so you can increase your income while keeping your time commitment the same.
Now, the final cheesy sales tactic I wish financial advisors would stop doing is failing to reduce intimidation. They use jargon. There's a lot of stuff that I could say here where people will make their sales process more intimidating. It's a very high-level concept. I have discussed this in my Inner Circle newsletters, so I'm not going to give away any paid information here. If you're not a subscriber, again, thoughts and prayers. But I will tell you that if your sales process doesn't reduce intimidation, I guarantee it, you're leaving money on the table, and a great way to reduce intimidation is to get clear about what you do. [22:00.5]
Another one of my favorite books—I brought up the Lawrence Steinmetz book. I'm going to give you another book recommendation—it's called Ten Greatest Salespersons by Robert L. Shook. It was originally published in 1978. I have a first-edition copy on the bookshelf behind me. You can't see it, but it is on the bookshelf behind me. You’ve just got to trust me on this one.
It contains timeless wisdom about sales across multiple industries, ranging from cars to computers, and a specific salesperson I first learned about from this was a guy named Buck Rodgers. Sadly, I never got to meet him because he passed away in 2014. Still, he has left a huge impression on me, just from this little chapter. It's incredible how much of an impact people can have on your life without them even knowing it and in such a small way, or at least for them.
He was IBM's vice president of marketing while working and served as director on seven corporate boards in his, I call it retirement, but is it really a retirement? I mean, that man was a worker. Here's a direct quote from him in the book. “Many are under the impression that there's a certain mystique about a computer, IBM's most widely-recognized product. That's a fallacy. We simply supply a solution to our customers’ problems.” [23:14.8]
He realized he was selling computers, which are complex to begin with, and in the 1970s, an era in which people didn't know much about them and were quite frankly intimidated by them, they seemed even more complex than they are today.
I like this quote because I see a direct parallel with selling financial services. A financial plan or a financial product can be a mysterious, intimidating thing for prospective clients. However, the key is to focus on them and their problems instead of whatever it is you offer. Remember, you're not selling the computer itself. You're not selling the mystique. You are simply supplying a solution to your customer's problem. [23:58.3]
If you can effectively communicate how you solve your prospect's problem or problems, selling comes easier. For example, a Roth IRA solution is a way to prevent people from leaving Uncle Sam a tip. That's the problem. A life insurance policy, the solution, is a way for people to ensure their families don't endure financial hardship in the event of their death. That's the problem. A financial plan solution gives people clear steps, so they don't feel overwhelmed by their lack of direction. That's the problem. I could give you example after example.
My point with this is that the best salespeople aren't really selling at all. They provide clarity about how they solve problems. Clarity is a way to reduce intimidation. It is wonderful when people clearly understand what they should do, they understand what the problem is, they understand what the solution is, they understand where you're coming from, they understand why you're talking to them. Clarity on all of these things reduces intimidation. [25:01.5]
That is it. If you enjoyed this episode, please leave a review wherever you listen to a podcast. It helps the show. It helps me, and it helps you because you're going to feel good about helping somebody, right? Share it on social media. Tag me in it. I'll engage with it.
Thank you so much for listening. I really do, from the bottom of my heart, appreciate you, and I’ll catch you next week.
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