It’s not about you

Clarity is of purpose always essential to a successful project.

That being said, many of us who work in sales are usually clear on what we want: the sale, of course. However, this isn’t enough if you’re going to build productive business relationships. Over the years, I’ve seen many sales professionals make the mistake of seeing their prospects and even their clients as a piggy bank. In the financial industry this was particularly true.

A lot of young brokers would just try to pounce on the sale with no regard for the consequences of pushing a client toward a transaction solely to get a commission. Unfortunately, one of these consequences is that, should the deal go sour, the client may very well realize that you’ve played him. Now, there are great closers out there who will persuade the client to continue doing business, even with the intention of continuing to ‘churn and burn’ the account. I knew one such man. Let’s call him Mike.

Mike was a charming guy, and a skilled closer. He ‘d closed a deal with one gentleman I was familiar with, so one day I picked up the phone and gave the client a call. The client told me a story that didn’t surprise me. Mike had closed him on shares of EDS and then later got him to sell the stock at a loss, racking up two commissions within a couple of weeks. The stock later rose significantly, and instead of taking a profit, the client was out about $30,000. Needless to say, he was not happy, and realized that Mike had just pushed him to sell so he’d get the commission. Mike didn’t care about losing the client, since he’d just move on to another one. However, Mike failed to realize one thing:

Clients have friends and colleagues. Mike would move on to his next victim, but he’d never gain access to that one client’s network. That client in particular was a prominent and highly connected businessman, who later proved to be a valuable resource for my business. In his selfish approach to business, Mike missed out on an opportunity to expand his prospects through referrals, and he also missed out on the chance to serve that client’s other investment needs, which were considerable- and lucrative for the right advisor.

Always make sure that your prospecting isn’t about you. Be clear on your prospects’ and clients’ needs, goals, and business intentions, even outside of the immediate context of  whatever you’re trying to sell them. Their seemingly unrelated activities and objectives can have consequences that will shape your relationship with them, so it is in your best interest to look out for their best interest. As I’ve said in other posts, using your existing contacts to benefit your clients in ways not directly related to your relationship with them will increase your value to them, and a genuine interest in their success will help you find ways to make your services more useful to them and more profitable to you.