imgbd Fund Guru: Sell Well - Grow Well

9 essential sales skills

Whether you are a seasoned mutual fund distributor or just getting started in your career in distribution, selling smartly is a must-have skill. Here are nine essential sales skills that every sales person should cultivate. While you may have most of the requisite skills, there may be a few areas where you may be lagging behind. Read to identify a sales skill that you may have to polish some more to achieve your maximum sales potential.

  1. Prospecting: Identifying a prospect strategy that works for you is not only key to having a continuous sales pipeline, but also to ensure that you are not wasting your valuable time and energy. So take time to analyze a) how are you gathering leads and whether it is effective b) how are choosing which prospects to concentrate on. Here are some questions you should ask yourself: Are you networking at the right places? Are you able to add prospects to your pipeline every month or has it stopped growing? Do you have a preferred client segment where you have seen higher conversions? Are you doing enough to generate more leads in this preferred client segment?

  2. Questioning: The questions that you pose to your prospective client gives you the opportunity to stand out from among the crowd and show that the services you have to offer is distinctive. So take the time to understand your clients and ask pertinent questions that is tailored to them to really understand their risk appetite, the kind of products they are looking for, their investment horizon and the aims of their investment. Scrutinize the list of common questions you ask your client - does it give you appropriate information to understand their financial needs, personality? Do the questions make the client think highly of your skills? Are the questions too generic? Are the questions tailored to the personality and social style of the client?

  3. Listening: While it sounds easy, listening is actually a really hard skill and takes practice. You need to pay complete attention to your client to establish a connection with them - they need to see you as more than another financial advisor and they need to feel that as a client, they matter to you. When you are with a client, turn your entire focus to your client and make sure the client knows it. Give complete attention by switching off any unwanted interruptions like phones and this makes the client feel important. Also pay attention and read the body language of client to understand where their concerns might be. It is said that 80% of communication is through non-verbal cues and this will give you clues where the client may be enthusiastic and where they are not convinced about a financial product. This will give you an advantage in dealing with clients.

  4. Presentation skills: You may have the skills and financial knowledge but how are you presenting this information to the client? There are two aspects to the presentation - the content and the verbal presentation itself. It is important to be adaptive to the situation and become skilled with adaptive selling. What does that mean practically? So before you start with your presentation, take a moment to understand the potential knowledge of your client. If they look knowledgeable, then showing your financial knowledge of the current markets will impress them and they may feel that you are the right person to handle their investments. However, if it looks like they have limited or little financial markets knowledge, you can run the risk of overwhelming the client with too much information. This can make them instinctively distrust you because they are not sure of the information you have given them. So, make your content pertinent to client's needs and do not stick solely to the script and give a canned presentation. Adapt to the situation.

  5. Rapport-building: Developing a connection is key to ensure that you build a long-lasting client relationship. So take a look at your focus - are you speaking very fast in order to make a sale instead of focusing on building a connection? Does the client feel like they can trust you to give them the right information? What kind of impression do you make on your client? How would they describe you? Active listening and adaptive selling will help you build the rapport.

  6. Objection handling: Whether it is a client with a small Rs. 2000 SIP or a client looking to invest a few lakhs, they will have concerns. Some of their concerns will be expressed in the form of objections to your pitch. How you handle those objections can make or break the deal. So ask yourself if you make these common mistakes in your enthusiasm to sign a client - Do you immediately rebut and get into a confrontation with your client? Do you try to go over their heads to push them into a sale? Do you immediately show frustration or other negative emotions in response to objections? Do you hear and understand their concerns? The better way to handle objections would be to a) empathize b) clarify c) seek permission. Empathize by verbally stating that you understand, respect or appreciate their concern. Clarify if you have understood their objection by restating it in your own words. Offer a solution to their concern but offer it as a solution that they would have to approve on. "So would it be okay with you if....."

  7. Persistence: There is a fine line between being persistent and turning off the client. Issues with persistence show up in two areas - prospecting / initial meeting with client and objection handling. So be careful with the line between pursuing a prospect to them avoiding you because they feel like you are stalking them. Do you get so focused on closing the sale that you alienate the client because they feel you are too pushy? How far do you push your client towards signing a product they may not be keen on? These are hard questions to reflect on but it is key to ensure that you are not the financial advisor that clients want to run away from because they find you too pushy.

  8. Organization skills: It is easy to feel overwhelmed and being organized will help you sell better. So ask yourself - How organized are you in terms of your pipeline? Where do you spend most of your time and is it effective? Do you consistently analyze to see how many calls it takes to close a sale? Do you have an understanding of how much time is needed with the different types of clients in order to close a sale? Analyzing and being organized will help you stay above the chaos.

  9. Focus: Are you letting stress, fear of rejection or call reluctance impact your technique? Are you distracted by the needs of multiple clients that you are not able to cater to the one in front of you? Developing a sharp focus on "one-client-at-a-time" will help you give your best to the client whom you are with, will help you reiterate to the client that he is very valuable to you, and will help you derive the best results from your sales efforts. Lack of focus will just make you run around doing a lot in terms of activity, but achieving little in terms of results.

If you think after reading these 9 skills that they are genuinely required for your business success, take a moment to grab a paper and pen, read this article again, but this time, start writing down which skills you think you need to sharpen. You will be surprised, irrespective of how experienced you are, to note that the paper is not blank when you are done reading this again. What you've now written down will be your key take-aways from this little refresher course on selling skills that you need to sharpen.

Share this article