Asking for the business is a part of the sales process mired in pressure. There’s pressure to make something happen. Alternatively, there is a huge amount of anxiety produced by worrying that something might not happen. Tension is visceral; it’s in your body, tone, and the energy you bring to a client conversation. You feel it and so do they. Often this ‘needy’ energy repels clients from working with you and propels them to not walk but run the other way. This is that pushy and salesy personality you aim to avoid.
Unfortunately, the fear of showing up as pushy and salesy holds you back from showing up at all. Instead of asking for the business, the pendulum swings to the other side, where you undervalue, over-serve, undercharge, and literally give the business away. This is not a smart sales strategy. Sure, it may get you an immediate sale, but you’ve reduced yourself down to a transaction that can be negotiated upon, competed with, and commoditized. You don’t feel good about yourself or your offers, and your clients don’t believe they’ve received the best option. Even if they get the best price, their spidey senses alert them that this ‘special price’ is going to cost them somewhere down the line.
What if you could alleviate all that pressure?
What if you could get the sale and never have to ask for the business again?
What if, instead of asking for business, you created invitations?
Asking for the business carries a demanding, it’s-all-about -me posture. Creating invitations is like showing up as the host of an exclusive party –a party where your client is the guest of honour. It’s not about you, it’s about them. More specifically, it’s about who they will get to be, what they will get to do, and what they will have because they said yes to this invitation.
Becoming a Transformational Seller shifts your mindset from thinking you’re selling products and services to realizing you’re helping clients solve problems, achieve goals, and fulfill dreams. You stop asking for the business because there’s nothing to sell. You start creating invitations to a vision of the future that clients can’t wait to buy.
How do you make this shift from asking to inviting? Let’s explore three different ways you could bring more ease, joy, and profit to your business by creating conditions for invitations to happen.
- Focus on your most valued currency – trust.
I picked up this story from best selling author Seth Godin. Let’s pretend you’re at a busy NYC train station. You’ve got $20 in your pocket and offer it to anyone who’s willing to give you $5 for it. You’re asking complete strangers if they’ve got $5 bucks in exchange for your $20. It’s a terrible deal for you, and most people will ignore you, look the other way, or think you’ve gone mad. By the end of the day, you walk away with that same $20 in your pocket. Nobody has taken a chance on a complete stranger, even if it makes them $15 richer.
Now let’s say you deposit $20 into someone’s mailbox every day over the next five days. On day six you knock on the door and ask if they’ve got $5 to trade for your $20. They chuckle, realizing that you’re the one who’s been leaving them twenties all week. They say Of Course right away, knowing they’ve been benefiting from your generosity all week.
Same transaction, different outcomes. One offer was too good to be true, while the other too safe to refuse. What was the difference? Compared to the train station, the mailbox approach turned a stranger into an acquaintance and then, with the knock on the door, into a friend. There was a sustained investment into the relationship and evidence of value delivered consistently in advance of asking anything. Ultimately, this repeated, generous behaviour with no strings attached established trust.
In an October 2020 study conducted by Salesforce, 82% of customers agree a company’s trustworthiness matters more than it did a year ago. Plus, according to a 2020 Accenture Global Consumer Banking study only 29% trusted their bank to look after their long-term financial well-being, down from 43% two years before. Today more than ever, trust is the exchange your value is traded on. It’s the primary currency you’re negotiating with.
You demonstrate your trustworthiness by going first and investing in your clients’ relationship with no expectations of anything in return. You show them you care by putting their interests ahead of yours. You prove your value by being generous with your ideas, insights, and understanding before you get their business, and even more when you do. Ultimately when you show them value, that value is validated by the business you gain because they trust you.
If clients aren’t aware you exist, they can’t find you.
If clients don’t know you, they can’t trust you.
If clients can’t trust you, they won’t do business with you.
Generous Visibility is how you get seen, heard, and understood by your clients. This is how you show them value, establish trust, and create conditions for invitations to happen. This is how you’ll be granted permission to deepen your relationship.
The Generous Visibility strategy doesn’t only help you gain trust, build rapport, and strengthen your reputation, it helps you connect with ideal clients. Looking for ways to help people get more of what they want is way easier than selling products.
Generous Visibility in Action – examples to get you started:
Gradually, with your intentional acts of Generous Visibility, clients learn that you are someone that has their best interests at heart, someone they can turn to for advice, and someone they can choose to do business with. Trust is the foundation that sets up perfect conditions to invite clients to work with you.
2. Win their hearts and be rewarded with their business.
There’s a functional value of what you’re selling. This refers to the transactional nature of your products or services. For example, a mortgage with an open and variable rate provides clients with the ability to apply lump sum payments as they receive quarterly bonuses. There’s also an emotional value of what you’re selling that refers to the transformational impact a client enjoys. With this same mortgage, clients have the flexibility and freedom to be debt-free faster, avoid penalty headaches, and have confidence in their future as they take action to fulfill their goals.
You’ve heard this adage before, clients make a decision based on emotion, and then rationalize their way to the emotional choice they’ve already decided upon. Sometimes you end up falling back on rational reasons when clients emphasize features and price over results and impact.
A Harvard Business Review Study on ‘The New Science of Customer Emotions’ illustrated the power of connecting to a clients’ emotions. A major bank was introducing a new credit card to Millennials. They uncovered that for this segment key emotional motivators were “protect the environment” and “be the persona I want to be.” They crafted messaging and features to connect with this ideal client. It worked! It was their fastest growing new credit card with a 70% increase to the segment and new account growth rose by 40%. The boost was attributed to connecting to the customers’ emotional motivators.
Emotional motivators are feelings that drive customer behaviour. When you understand clients’ needs and desires, you can create a human, empathetic and emotional connection. Your clients want to feel security, success in life, and a sense of freedom. They want to protect the environment, stand out from the crowd, and be a better version of themselves. It’s up to you to listen, ask and learn what emotional desire is moving them and how your solutions help them get more of that.
When a customer is emotionally connected, they are 52% more valuable than those who are highly satisfied. When it comes to financial services, a fully connected customer is 35% more valuable. Again, you knew this intuitively, and the data supports it (your mind can rest easy now).
Gallup tells us that 1 in 5 customers are emotionally connected to their primary bank. To establish emotional connection, focus on your clients’ financial wellbeing. Financial wellbeing is intensely emotional, that is, viscerally felt. If you win their hearts, you will be rewarded with their business. But more importantly you will deliver on your promise to help your clients be financially healthy, wealthy, and wise.
3. Be more invested in the transformation than they are.
Earlier this month I was getting all squirmy about following up with a client. ‘Squirm’ is a technical term we use in my Sales Coaching Accelerator program that refers to the uncomfortable feeling you get when you want to reach out to a client, sit down to write a blog, post an article on LinkedIn, or extend an invitation to a client to work together. It’s motivated by things like:
- Fear – will they say yes?
- Doubt – do you have anything valuable to offer?
- Judgment – what will people think or say?
- Expectation – what if they say no?
These fears are stories we make up based on past experiences and what we observe from others. They’re programmed to keep us safe and in the known and familiar. Hence why so many don’t reach out, don’t write, don’t post, and don’t invite.
Back to my story. As I was preparing to follow-up with this client for the fourth time since our meet up, I hesitated. The inner chatter in my head started saying things like, “you’re bothering her, stop pestering, she’ll think you’re trying to sell her something, ” and “she hasn’t replied to your three prior emails, why would she now?” I noticed how this voice in my head was trying to give me reasons why I should not follow-up.
Yes, even though I teach this stuff, I can still get stuck in the weeds. You know why? I’m human. Most days I’m good to go, but this million-year-old program wired into our survival brain sneaks in attempting a take over. It doesn’t care if you’ll change someone’s life, use your brilliant difference, or create a better life for yourself and your family. All it knows is that you’re getting outside your comfort zone and its job is to pull you back to safety.
Well, I caught on quickly and overcame it by following through. You see, your follow-up isn’t about you. It’s not about you checking in to see if they want to book a meeting to talk about your products and services, nor is it about inquiring to see if they’re interested in the ideas and solutions you offer. Your follow up is about them following through on the transformation they most want to have.
I recalled that this client’s team was struggling with sales and growing their market share. I remembered how much she loved her work but didn’t love selling it. I also remembered that I could help her get more of what she wanted. Once I reconnected to the transformation she was seeking, I was no longer following up, rather following through. I was helping her follow through on her goals, dreams, and aspirations for her team and company. It had nothing to do with me, my products, or my sales goals.
I sent the email, and a day later she replied with a long note thanking me for reaching out and keeping her top of mind. She numbered off a few things that have kept her away from her inbox and made a hearty list of the goals she wanted to discuss with me. We booked a meeting to get her back on track towards the goals she had for her team. Looking back now, if I didn’t follow through with this client, she would not have a clear plan and strategy on how her team was going to increase market share and revenues, and how her company was going to be the best place to work, and that would be very sad.
Your clients are busy, working and living in their tornado lives. Every now and then they come up for air to recalibrate and re-align themselves to their goals and priorities. Hopefully you get to be one of those people they share them with. Then, they leave your office or drop off the Zoom call, and just like that, get sucked back into the swirl of their daily lives. It’s up to you to remind them to follow through on their goals and dreams. You need to be more invested in their transformation than they are. You need to remind them what is possible for them when they learn how to spend less, save more, borrow better and plan for their future. Your follow-up isn’t a bother, it’s something you need to be bothering about.
There you have it: three ways to alleviate the pressure of making a sale by creating conditions for invitations instead:
- Focus on your most valued currency – trust
- Win their hearts and be rewarded with their business
- Be more invested in the transformation than they are
Now it’s over to you, which one of these are you inspired to put into action?
Check out my new book coming March 7th! Transformational Selling: A Playbook for Financial Professionals where you will learn how to become a Transformational Seller so you can deepen client relationships and grow your business. Join the waitlist here and be the first to learn about upcoming special bonuses.