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Master The Psychology Of Selling

SuperUser Account posted on September 26, 2013

Rick Rummage is founder and CEO of theRummage Group, an advisor recruiting firm in Herndon, Va.

You’re sitting in the conference room across from a new prospect, thinking you’re doing a spectacular job of selling your unique financial planning process. But the prospect doesn’t seem interested, and the last words you hear are “I’ll think about it and get back to you.” All financial advisors have been in this situation — and all too often. Why do prospects shut you down on a decision that should be so obvious?

The answer may be simpler than you think, and it will help you close more business. Every decision a person makes is based on fear, greed, likes, dislikes, experiences, circumstances, beliefs, environment, etc. As a salesman, you must realize that what prospects are thinking affects your closing ratio.

Most FAs aren’t psychologists, but you can take a shortcut to insight by understanding personality types. Many schools of thought on personality have developed over the years, but at the Rummage Group we use the enneagram, a model developed in the early 20th century. According to the enneagram, there are nine personality types: the reformer, the helper, the achiever, the individualist, the investigator, the loyalist, the enthusiast, the challenger and the peacemaker. Every human has a type that will never change, and within each type every individual can be categorized as healthy, average or unhealthy. What does all this mean to a financial advisor? Everything!

Once you understand a prospect’s personality type, you can customize your presentation. For example, you would never present your plan the same way to an investigator as you would to an achiever. The investigator is an analytical person — a Bill Gates type — whose basic desire is to be capable and competent. The investigator will read all the literature you provide and use logic and reason to make an informed decision. His emotions won’t drive his decisionmaking process; instead, he will analyze every recommendation you make. If he feels that your recommendations are logical, he is more likely to buy. When dealing with an investigator, don’t use a lot of hype, speak slowly and use intelligent arguments. Investigators hate feeling sold or talked down to, but they love to be educated.

By contrast, the achiever is the image-conscious, emotional Bill Clinton type. This individual will most likely not read your literature but instead buy based on how exciting your plan or product is. Reputation and image are important to the achiever. If she feels she can brag at the country club about having you as her advisor, she will be more interested. Achievers love praise and compliments. In fact, their biggest desire is to feel valuable and worthwhile. Spend time building rapport and getting to know them. Get them talking about their interests, and pay them a lot of compliments. This approach will most likely win them over.

It should be clear why making the same presentation to two different personality types will turn at least one of them off. Since many financial advisors’ compensation is commission-based, a high closing ratio is important. Understanding that each of your prospects sees the world differently is critical to improving it. You need to know what drives each of them, so you can customize your presentation and appeal to their deepest motivations. Happy hunting!