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Understanding the Psychology of Sales

If I could go back in time, I’d start by choosing a different major in college. Instead of business, I’d choose psychology, because, let’s be honest, so much of what we do as salespeople is psychology.

As financial planners, it’s our primary duty to lay out a path for our clients to follow. Yet, you can create the perfect plan, leading to the perfect outcome, as specified by the client, and still, they won’t bite.

I’ve spent countless hours over the course of my career, quite literally scratching my head, wondering what I could be missing.

Here’s what I’ve come up with:

  • Prospects have preconceived notions of who you are. You must differentiate yourself from the get-go. Otherwise, you’ll get lost in the mix.
  • Clients don’t always know what they want or how to articulate it.
  • Clients appreciate when you walk them through the planning process, rather than giving the best answer right away.
  • Men and women approach financial services differently — you must know how to serve both sides.
  • If you want to close on a couple, your plan must serve them both, equally.
  • Never ignore or patronize the female in a couple.
  • Don’t use overly technical or too advanced language with prospects and clients.
  • If you are a female advisor, pay close attention to not intimidating your male client’s partner.

Here are three ways to really understand your client and get to the root of their desires.

1. Be an active listener.

If you’re not retaining the information provided by your client, you can’t adequately serve them. There’s a huge difference between listening and active listening.

I liken it to the difference between hearing and listening, where hearing is the simple act of your ears absorbing sound, listening, and especially active listening is not only hearing the words but absorbing their content and attributing meaning.

Active listening is a honed skill. Here are a few tips:

  • Maintain eye contact. Your attention should be on your client and your client only.
  • Suspend your reply until you have all the information you need. In other words, don’t start planning your next reply and tune out the rest of what your client has to say.
  • Listen to all potential opportunities. During a conversation, you will start to pick up on areas where you can sell, then tune out the rest. This will inevitably hinder your opportunities and turn off your client!

2. Nurture the relationship.

Long-term relationships should be your goal. A surefire way to turn off a client is by getting straight to business, focused solely on the sale and not on the client.

Building rapport with your client is a never-ending process and can be your differentiating factor from competitors.

Here’s how you can build rapport:

  • Let your guard down and just talk with your client before getting into the nitty gritty.
  • Find areas of commonality.
  • Remember what they say, such as names of family members, favorite sports teams or restaurants and bring it up again.
  • Remember their coffee or drink order and have it ready when they come to a meeting.
  • Mimic their body language and positioning.

3. Ask about their vision and purpose.

To serve your clients, as best as you can, you must understand their vision. Where do they want to be and how are you going to get them there?

Avoid focusing solely on what they want or need at present and take a broader perspective. Establish the expectation of a long-term relationship and how you’re going to serve their needs down the road continuously.

Secondly, discover their purpose or their “why.”

  • Purpose is different from vision, as it is the foundation. 
  • Vision is the outcome, purpose is the motivator.

Understanding their purpose will greatly inform your financial planning process.

Without knowing who your client is, you might as well be going at it blindfolded. Get to know your prospects and clients, so you give them your best.

Did we miss any tips on the psychology of sales? Let us know in the comments below!

We’d love to hear from you.

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Understanding the Psychology of Sales
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Without knowing who your client is, you might as well be going at it blindfolded. Get to know your prospects and clients, so you give them your best.
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