Sidney C. Walker
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June 2013

"The Simple Paradigm Shift That
Makes Prospecting Easier..."

by Sidney C. Walker


Here is an interview I did recently. I got permission to send it out to you (my list) pre-publication.

Rob Holdaway of Brokers Choice recently interviewed 30-year veteran sales coach Sid Walker considered by many to be one of the most gifted individual coaches in the game. Sid was coaching Fortune 500 executives at age 28 along with a variety of sales reps, consultants, and entrepreneurs. About ten years into his coaching career he decided to specialize in the financial services industry where he still focuses most of his time today. Here is the interview:

Rob: "Sid, I've been following your work for years and you have been coaching financial advisors for several decades now. From your perspective, what are the biggest challenges advisors face?"

Sid: "From a coaching perspective, there are several issues I deal with all the time. A big one is getting in front of enough of the right people. Most advisors have issues with prospecting. Some people have figured out how to have enough of the right people to talk to, many have not.

Rob: "How do you help people resolve the prospecting issue?"

Sid: "The answer requires a little 'set-up.' Let me see how concise I can make this. First you have to see that there are two basic approaches to selling. One I call the "Client Controller" which is the traditional approach we all get taught. The goal of the Client Controller is to make a sale by using anything and everything you can dream up to push for a sale and get the check. If you don't make a sale — you have failed. Also, Client Controllers are usually sore losers and burn bridges faster than they build them. This is a model that produces sales. It has been around forever and reflects the values of dominance and control found in most sales cultures.

The other group is what I call "Relationship Builders." As a Relationship Builder you want to make sales but you care more about the client than the Client Controller. Relationship Builders are not willing to risk losing the relationship in order to make a sale. They are not going to back the client into a corner and push until they get a check which would severely strain the relationship or possibly end it.

Interestingly, Relationship Builders are 80% or more of any sales force. Yet the training everyone gets is geared toward the Client Controller. Life Insurance Companies and Investment Broker Dealers are bottom line oriented. They want sales, they don't care what your selling style is. Most companies are good at teaching you about the products and not so good at teaching you how to makes sales.

The end result is that the majority of people in the financial services industry have a lot of psychological baggage and internal conflicts because they've been taught to sell and prospect in a way that doesn't fit their core values. They lack the confidence they could have because they have been taught to approach the sales process in a way that actually does not feel right to them at the most basic level. Most advisors cope as best they can with these internal conflicts because they are told that this is just what you have to do to be successful. The net result is that the majority of advisors have to push themselves to prospect in a way that they naturally resist which is a recipe for a lot of people operating way below their potential. It's an epidemic problem (97% failure rate) and it's actually not hard to fix. I have been saving careers for over thirty years!"

Rob: "Fascinating. So how do you fix the problem?"

Sid: "The first thing you have to do for a Relationship Builder to succeed is to change the job description. Relationship Builders don't relate to pushing people for a sale. They want to make friends with people and help them get what they want. They don't want to "dominate and control" or "pitch and close" which is the Client Controller approach.

Simply stated, if you make one little change in how you approach the sales process, it changes the job from a struggle to the best job out there for the Relationship Builder. Here is the change: instead of doing everything you can to push for a sale, you help the potential client make an informed decision that feels right to them. And here is the key, you help them do whatever they want to do which actually includes doing nothing! And, you tell them at the beginning of the sales process that the purpose of your relationship is to help them make informed decisions about their finances, not to try to talk them into buying something. That my friend, changes everything! Here is the language I like. I call it the Opening Language:

"Let me tell you a little about the values I like to bring to the table and I think you will find this a little different. My job is to help you make informed decisions about your finances that feel right to you which actually includes doing nothing if that is what feels right.. This isn't about me trying to talk you into buying a product — so you can relax.

Obviously, I have products for sale, but that's not a requirement for you and I to be friends and for me to help you. Basically, whatever we do needs to feel right to you and you have my promise that I don't want you to ever do anything that doesn't feel right to you! Does that sound like a fair approach?

My favorite response to this language was from a couple visiting with one of my advisor coaching clients. After the advisor shared my opening language the wife said: 'Wow, we've been praying for someone like you.' You can't start an interview with any more power than that.

Rob: "Great story and I get it. You take away all the sale pressure with your opening language which creates the conditions for a real relationship to happen."

Sid: "Exactly. All the studies show that the buying public wants two things. They want to talk about what's of interest to them not just what the Client Controller advisor is trying to sell. And, they don't want any sales pressure. So I say why not give people what they want. And you know what, and I love to say this, when you take away all the sales pressure, people start looking for things to buy! My average client who learns this approach has a 90% closing ratio which sounds outrageous but not when you think it through. If you are helping people learn what the issues are that they are going to face. Teach them what their options are. Then let them choose the options that feel right to them with your expert help. Why wouldn't they buy? The answer is most of them do buy.

Rob: "Makes total sense. Would you say your approach for the Relationship Builder is similar to a consultative approach?

Sid: "Yes, with one distinction. When people here the word consultant, they tend to think the consultant's job is to tell the client what to do which starts to sound like a Client Controller. The most important difference with the Relationship Builder approach is that the client can do nothing if that is what feels right to the client and that is considered a win for everyone.

Rob: "So as a Relationship Builder, do you still sell?"

Sid: "Great question. The answer is of course you still sell but you don't push. I like to say you still promote solutions to problems. You still "sell the sizzle" of the solutions you are proposing. And very important, you make sure the client knows the consequences of not doing anything. But probably the most important difference with the Relationship Builder Approach is that the client knows they can say no at any point to anything and there will be no hard feelings. The goal is to help the client get what feels right to him or her whatever that is, period.

Here is a sample of the language I teach my advisor coaching clients. I say you can promote the heck out of something like permanent life insurance for ten minutes as long as you do one thing at the end. You say to the client, "Bob, obviously I think permanent life insurance is one of the most amazing products ever invented but here is the most important question. After hearing me go on and on about how great it is, how do you feel about it? Remember I promised you we are not doing anything that doesn't feel right to you." And that makes all the difference. You promote your ideas and honor the client at the same time.

Rob: "This has been awesome. I love the Relationship Builder Approach. It's exactly how I sell. How do people get in touch with you if they want to learn more?"

Sid: "I have two main websites: Sid is spelled S-i-d. Then if you want to see my membership training website go to

Rob: "Sid, thank you so much for this time and your insights on how to make this job of selling financial services a lot more fun and more profitable for those advisors who are more relationship-oriented.

Sid: "You're welcome. And thanks for a great interview. You asked all the right questions.




Have a productive June,

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