The very best salespeople don’t focus on closing. Yet when we ask wholesalers to identify their number 1 skill they believe needs improvement, closing wins hands down. From our perspective, “If you have a problem closing, your problem isn’t closing;” it’s something that has gone awry earlier in the sales conversation.
When a sales conversation helps an advisor solve a problem or take advantage of an opportunity—from advisor’s perspective not the wholesaler’s–closing is a natural progression. It’s easy for wholesalers to confuse their perspective with the advisors. After all, how could an advisor not see the benefit of a fund that is best in its class, 5 stars, sings, dances and crushes the competition? Therein lies the rub. Once the wholesaler strays to a one-sided (his perspective) convincing mode he’s in trouble. Earnest attempts to persuade “my product is better than what you are using and I can prove it” can gain short-term interest, but often fall flat when it comes to getting the advisor to take action. The litmus test that predicts successful closing is the degree to which the advisor is engaged in the conversation – not at the end, but throughout with the wholesaler posing thoughtful (not leading) questions, checking in, listening and uncovering what the product will help the advisor do. Here some common one-sided misperceptions and activities that get in the way of a successful close:
- Assuming stellar product performance is the primary buying criteria. If it is, you can be sure those assets won’t stick when the tide turns.
- Believing features make your product different and are a compelling reason to buy: “We’ve been in business for 101 years, we use a tops down, bottoms up approach, we have people ‘on the ground’ around the world, we give you access to institutional style investing (what firm doesn’t these days?)…”
- Thinking these statements are a buying signal:
- “Can you send/leave me some material?…”
- “It sounds interesting — Call me back after the market closes…”
- “I’ll take a look at it!”
- The wholesaler taking all the responsibility for a next step on themselves – “I’ll call you next week / I will send you / I will check back…”
- Using cheesy techniques: “If I can show you that… (Our fund is better than your fund) would you buy it?”
Would you buy from someone that used that line?
If you have done your job in engaging the advisor in the conversation, uncovering the business (vs. product) need, letting him come to his own conclusion and checking in to determine their willingness to take some action to move forward, you don’t need techniques to close. This is the essence of a consultative conversation, and yes we know it is easier said than done!