Don’t let this title deceive you. We are not suggesting you eliminate the word “sales” from your organizational vocabulary. It’s a valid term and a critical performance metric. But, we ARE suggesting that transforming your approach from one focused on sales to a focus on serving will open the door to significantly enhanced success with prospects and clients… and therefore productivity.
“Your income is determined by how many people you serve and how well you serve them.”
The Go-Giver, by Bob Burg and John David Mann
Jim Collins, in his book Built to Last, offered compelling evidence that organizations whose primary purpose is to make money are not as enduringly successful as those who are driven by a purpose. Based on our experience in working with hundreds of financial services firms and the thousands of bankers and advisors within them, the same holds true for those who approach their clients with the sole intent to sell something, which unfortunately clients have come to expect. Those organizations and advisors who approach their clients with the pure intent to serve them and fulfill on a Client Promise will naturally be more successful with their clients and, in the end, actually sell more! This inherently makes sense, though few actually trust it.
Misunderstanding The Meaning of “Serve”
If not clarified quickly I might lose you, as the tendency is to arc to a common misunderstanding about this approach. Terminology like “serve” and “purity of intent” lead many to assume this means you just need to be really nice, show you care, do what the client asks and not push or “sell” anything. (Sounds like “relationship selling” by the way.) With this false assumption, many sales leaders and top-performing advisors/bankers roll their eyes and run away from it while others naïvely embrace it, concluding they can finally free themselves from the daily pressure of “selling.”
This is NOT what we mean. To truly “serve” in a way that will meaningfully enhance productivity calls for an intense commitment to the following:
- Spending the time to develop and maintain a high level of professional expertise
- Employing the discipline to continually enhance your game and work on your approach to ensure you are most effectively and skillfully engaging with clients and prospects in order to fulfill your Promise
- Going the extra mile to truly understand the prospect/client and his or her priorities (which is more than just asking what their objectives are or “what keeps you up at night”)
- Delivering thought leadership via a clear and compelling point-of-view about what is best for the prospect/client and what is not, with the skill to convey that point-of-view in a way that motivates them to take action and do what is needed to “get it right”
- Having the confidence to NOT sell something the client wants and the courage to walk away from the opportunity because you know it is not the right solution… even if the sale would make a huge impact on your results
Developing Your Approach
We have worked with several organizations and advisors/bankers helping them transition to this kind of client experience. While it takes a lot of thought, work and discipline, the formula for doing so is quite simple:
- Define your Purpose (why you do what you do) and your Client Promise (what you promise to deliver for every client). This is a critical step in ensuring your focus is on the client and what you promise to deliver to them, as opposed to the traditional Value Prop or "elevator speech" that is too often all about you and your company.
- Define the key steps in your sales and relationship management experience that will ensure your approach is aligned with and fulfills on your Promise.
- Develop the key client engagement competencies (skills) that ensure the most effective execution of those key steps.
- Establish the coaching routines and practices around those competencies that will help ensure the ongoing development and delivery of the intended experience.
- Incorporate and Practice!
For those of you who recognize this as a way to change the game and ramp up performance, beware! It is not easy to make this transition! The key is not only to understand it intellectually, but to embed this in your heart and soul, trust it, and not use it as just another sales tactic. Doing so will lead to a performance breakthrough and likely enliven the sense of meaning behind what you do every day. It also takes great confidence and conviction, particularly if you engage in this as an individual advisor without the buy-in from the firm and your leaders. When someone comes to you asking, “where are you in your investment management sales compared to goal?”, or “how many credit cards did you sell today?”, it is so easy to bail! But know, as long as you get in front of the right number of people and the right people, serving them in this way will blow away what you would have done with a focus on just trying to sell something.
At Greene Consulting, understanding that every single contact you have with your clients influences their opinion of you, our purpose is to empower OUR clients to deliver a more engaging and effective client experience with THEIR clients… so as to deliver on the promises they make.
For more detail or insight on this topic or any others that may be a challenge to you, feel free to contact me at 404-324-4600 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.