Sell Well - Grow Well : "Main Bhi Fund Guru"
My 10 tips for IFAs to become champion salespersons
Pradeep Kumar Jain, Ranchi


Sell Well - Grow Well, a joint initiative between SBI Fund Guru and Wealth Forum, is an effort aimed at encouraging and guiding distributors on a path towards right selling - which we firmly believe is the best way to grow well on a sustainable basis.


In the new series within this section, called "Main Bhi Fund Guru", successful advisors share their winning sales strategies for the benefit of the wider distribution fraternity. In part one of this two part article (Click Here), Pradeepji - one of Eastern India's most successful advisors - shared the three pillars which are at the core of his sales strategies, and which have helped him grow his business successfully over the years. In this part, Pradeepji shares his top 10 tips - his distilled learnings over the years - for IFAs who wish to become champion salesmen.

I strongly believe that the one skill that every IFA must focus most on is how to become a champion sales person. You grow your business only when you can sell more. To sell more, you need to be a great salesman. Every effective advisor is a great salesman, as he knows how to convince clients to go with his advice. Its not enough to have product and market knowledge. What differentiates success from failure for IFAs is more to do with selling ability rather than deeper product insights. I am not suggesting that knowledge is not essential - I believe that we must always be well informed about products and markets. But, more important than trying to become champion fund managers, we must try and become champion salesmen.

In my several years in the sales arena, I have understood some aspects that I think work well. Here are a collection of my top 10 tips on how every IFA can become a champion salesman and give a big boost to his or her business. These are not in any particular order - all 10 are equally important, in my view.

1. Always remain in the limelight

You must strive to build an active media profile for yourself. Make an effort to contribute articles in local newspapers and magazines. Maintain your blog, if your clients are net savvy. Have your point of view known on important matters. Remaining in the limelight is essential for you to get a steady stream of prospects who are favourably disposed to you even before they meet you for the first time.

2. Demonstrate social leadership

Identify social platforms in your city or town and become an active member of these platforms. We have a chamber of commerce in Ranchi where I have served in various capacities including Secretary General and Director. Serving on these platforms not only helps you contribute to society, but also raises your profile in the eyes of all those who matter in the community around you. When people see you in leadership roles in society, they are more amenable to trust you and take your services as their personal financial advisor.

3. Always remain in your client's mind

Keep in touch with your clients regularly by constantly sending them relevant and useful information and insights. I don't believe only in sending emails, I also take the effort of creating and distributing hard copies of material I want to share with clients. Recently, we created a write up on how to draft a will and sent it out to all clients. It was well appreciated, and was passed on to their friends as well, which serves as good leads for us.

We have created these two characters - Bhola and Chatur - through which we communicate all our educational messages. These can even be simple but effective one liner SMS messages or communication through WhatsApp. The point is to find ways of engaging with clients on a regular basis and remain top of their mind always.

4. Learn to take many "nos" for every "yes" you seek

Often, we don't go out to meet prospects only because we don't want to hear a "no". We need to learn that in order to hear a "yes", we must first hear many "nos". I have told my team that I will be happy to pay them to hear "nos". I told them to go out and meet 10 prospects. Let all 10 say "no", I will anyway pay them Rs. 25 for each "no" they hear. Let them come back after meeting 10 prospects and hearing 10 "nos", and I will pay them Rs.250 for hearing these "nos". That got them out of office and into client calls. Sure, they hear "nos", but they also hear many "yeses". They met prospects who were willing to invest, but nobody approached them for business! For every 10 "nos" they hear and for every 250 rupees I pay to my team to hear these "nos", 1 "yes" gives enough business to more than make up for the cost and the effort. There are investors out there who are willing to give you business, if you only go out and seek it.

5. Keep talking, to keep selling

You have to keep talking, all the time, if you want to generate interest in your clients and prospects to give you more business. I keep talking, I keep asking. Being silent and hoping for a client to come to you with a specific problem is not the hallmark of a champion salesman. You have to generate interest in clients. The more I engage my clients in conversations, the more I know about what's happening in their lives, the more I can discern issues and problems that need a solution, the more I can offer solutions and get more sales. Its simple - keep talking, and you will keep selling.

6. Invest in good back office staff

If you want to be a champion salesman, first you need to create more time for sales and cut out all the time you spend on back office work. Invest in a good back office person or team, and entrust all routine operational matters including filling up forms to your back office staff. Keep asking yourself what aspects of work that you do can be delegated by you to somebody who costs 10% of your cost to your firm. If you continue to do work that can be done by somebody at one tenth of your cost, you are wasting your and your firm's most precious resource.

7. Are you pitching at the right frequency?

Imagine you are digging a bore well, without bothering to find out the approximate depth at which you are likely to strike the water bed. You dig 100 feet, 150 feet, 175 feet. You do a lot of digging, but don't get a drop of water. You get disheartened. But, if you had taken the trouble of finding out that other bore-wells in this area struck water around the 200 feet depth mark, you will dig another 25 feet after reaching 175 feet because you know you are likely to strike water soon.

Sales is an art and a science. You need to understand the frequency at which you need to pitch, to strike the right note for your sale to take place. This means investing in understanding selling, understanding buying behavior. Invest in learning how to sell. Don't assume that it is just a natural flair - it can and needs to be learnt.

8. Keep your motivation level high

Understand this one truth : buying is greatly influenced by the salesman's confidence. When your client sees a lot of energy and conviction in your pitch, he gets favourably inclined to accept your solution and buy what you are recommending. You may have your ups and downs like every human being does, but you must find a way to keep your motivation level high at all times, else it will tell in the way you come across to your clients.

There are tons of wonderful motivational videos available on YouTube. Whenever you are feeling down, access them, pump yourself up and go out into the marketplace and meet more investors. Just like your cell phone needs a daily recharge, you too need a periodic recharge. Don't ignore that else your battery will run out when it matters most.

9. What new insight are you going to share today?

We all build client relationships that we hope will last a lifetime. When you wish to engage with your clients over several years, you must ask yourself why this client will want to keep meeting you every month or every quarter for the next 20 years. What will motivate him to want to keep meeting you? If he thinks that here is a man who is just going on recycling the same knowledge and insights that he shared with me long ago, he has less inclination to want to meet me. If on the other hand, he knows that he can expect some new insight - on any aspect - not always markets - each time he meets me, he will look forward to meeting me. After every meeting, clients should go back with a feeling that I picked up something useful from him today. As I said, its not only markets - it can be insights on anything that is of interest to them. The point is to create a desire to want to meet us. For this, you need to keep learning. You can never stop learning, and need to set aside time each day to this critical aspect.

10. Emotional and spiritual connect

Finally, it is an advisor's emotional and spiritual connect that wins complete confidence and trust and that enables clients to go whole hog with the advisor's recommendations. You need to cultivate a personality that enables you to connect at the emotional and spiritual levels with your clients, which is far beyond the professional level at which it would otherwise remain. Intellectual connect is important, but emotional connect is what makes you a true champion.

All articles in the Sell Well - Grow Well section are created by Wealth Forum. These are not to be construed as opinions given by SBI Mutual Fund.

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