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9 Tips for Success in Financial Services Sales

blog author
Written by Mike Schultz
President, RAIN Group

Written by: Mike Schultz and Gord Smith

When it comes to selling financial services, professionals are usually faced with three common challenges:

  • Creating new conversations with potential clients
  • Leading conversations and winning business against stiff competition
  • Maximizing business with current clients

The good news is that you can overcome these hurdles. There are specific things you can do in each of these areas to be more successful. 

Generating Conversations

  1. Ask for referrals: Too many financial advisers and bankers assume that their clients, friends, family, and network will refer them to others without prompting. If you do this, you might get a few referrals, but you'll miss out on a huge opportunity to generate new conversations.

    Start by being more proactive and request referrals. Most people don't think about the connections they have. It's as simple as asking, "Do you know anyone else who might benefit from something similar?"

  2. Lead with value: When reaching out to your network and potential buyers, don't lead with a capabilities pitch. Instead, lead with an offer of something valuable.

    Offer to evaluate their current portfolio and make suggestions. Offer to share research you or your company recently conducted. Offer to share best practices in asset allocation you've discovered from your work with others in similar situations.

    Whatever your offer, make sure it adds value to the buyer in the initial meeting itself. Do this and you'll generate far more conversations.

  3. Succeed with selling financial services on LinkedIn: LinkedIn is a powerful tool for financial sellers. We recently found that 82% of buyers look up providers on LinkedIn before replying to their outreach efforts. Make a good first impression with a complete profile, professional picture, and messaging geared toward your clients. If the last time you used LinkedIn was to land a job, it's probably not communicating what you want.

    LinkedIn is also a great way to connect with potential clients and generate meetings. Find connections through your network. Join groups and ask and answer questions. Send messages to your connections to stay top of mind and strengthen those relationships.

    Most of all, adhere to Tip #2—lead with value. Each time you reach out to someone on LinkedIn, make sure your message offers something of value.

Leading Sales Conversations

  1. Connect with buyers and uncover their full set of needs: Before a prospect opens up and shares their finances and goals with you, you must develop rapport and trust with them.

    Once trust is developed, you can uncover their needs and desires. Say you're a banker talking to a customer about setting up a checking account. Don't just be an order taker. Ask them about their home situation. Are they moving to the area? Perhaps they need a mortgage. What does their portfolio look like? What stage in life are they (just starting out, highest earning part of their career, or preparing for retirement)?

    When talking with potential clients, be sure to ask about and understand their full financial picture. Only then can you propose the best, most robust solution.

  2. Convince buyers you're the best choice: Fear and risk play a significant role in financial services sales. You need to convince buyers that you'll help them minimize risk. Do this by sharing stories of other clients you've helped. Share the roadblocks they faced and how you helped them overcome those obstacles. Share your plan for helping your client minimize risk.

    All of these stories demonstrate that you can deliver on what you say you can. They help to substantiate your claims and convince buyers you're the best choice.

  3. Collaborate and provide new insights: Sales winners educate buyers with new ideas and perspectives 3x more often than second-place finishers. This is the #1 factor that most separates sellers who ultimately win the sale from those who come in second place.

    Clients are coming to you for your expertise and ideas. Show them the insights you've gleaned from working with others in similar situations.

    Collaborate with clients by not just agreeing with everything they say, but by also pushing back on their ideas and providing a new perspective. This is much more valuable than having a financial provider or banker who simply takes orders. This will also differentiate you against stiff competition.


Maximizing Business with Existing Clients

  1. Make sure clients know about all your products and services: Too often financial advisors and sellers assume their clients know more about them than they actually do. There are likely only a few clients who are aware of all the products and services you offer. In fact, many of your clients might be using another provider for services you offer.

    It's up to you to communicate your full range of service offerings. You don't necessarily need to be the expert in each service area, but you need to know enough to uncover opportunities. Once you do that, you can refer your client to the appropriate expert within your company.

    The way to do this is to gain permission to give an overview. Say something like, "I realize we've been working together for a few years, and we've never done a general overview so you know what we bring to the table. We have some major differences from our competitors in terms of offerings, and some new areas that I think could make a difference for you. At some point, do you mind if I give you the round-the-world overview?"

  2. Get to know your client and their business: Once you understand client goals—personal and/or business—you can make recommendations on where you can offer additional help. This requires not only understanding your clients' needs (a checking account, retirement savings, or life insurance), but also understanding their aspirations (early retirement, dream to open their own business, or desire for international expansion).

    Aspirations will come out in your client conversations only when you ask and when there's a strong relationship.

    Once you understand your clients' aspirations, you can provide insight on how to help them reach those goals. This is remarkably powerful.

  3. Be proactive: Clients want to know that you're thinking about them. They want to feel special. Too often financial advisers and bankers let too much time pass between talking to their current clients because they don't want to be viewed as a pest or come across too salesy.

    However, your clients want your advice. Be proactive and give it to them.

    If you read something on a financial services blog that you think is applicable, send it along. If one of your clients is looking to expand in the Chinese market and you read an article about U.S. companies trying to break through, highlight the important part and suggest a phone call to discuss the implications.

    Don't sit back and wait for your clients to reach out to you. Stay in constant contact. This will strengthen your relationships, help you uncover new opportunities, and protect your clients from your competitors.

There's no doubt that selling financial services is tougher than ever. Follow these nine tips and you'll find that generating meetings, winning new clients, and growing your existing clients can get easier.


This article was originally published on the LinkedIn Sales Blog.

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Topics: Consultative Selling Sales Conversations