You are NOT a Greasy Salesman

By Certified Coach Alissa Gauger, MBA

Let’s have a quick heart-to-heart. When you are dialing, prospecting or closing do you ever feel..er, well…like a greasy salesman? It’s okay. It’s more common than you think that financial advisors harbor this fear. Here’s the good news…we are all in “sales" now.

When you see the word “sales” what comes to mind? Author Daniel Pink asked, and survey respondents most often said; pushy, smarmy, aggressive, slimy, manipulative, fake, and more words with a negative connotation. Only five of the words were positive, those being: necessary, challenging, fun, essential and important. If you find yourself in the first camp cringing at the part of your role as a financial representative that you perceive as “sales” you are likely holding yourself and your clients back.

It turns out that as our economy evolves that the United States now has far more salespeople than factory workers. “If the nation’s salespeople lived in a single state, that state would be the fifth-largest in the United States,” writes Pink in his wonderful book “To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others.” He argues convincingly in his book that we are all in sales. For example, teachers sell students on learning. Nurses sell patients on taking care of themselves. Parents sell children on eating their vegetables and a reasonable bedtime (most of the time). You sell your client peace of mind through risk management, security through sound financial planning and the possibility that their dreams can come true when they have your help. “Each of us—because we’re human—has a selling instinct, which means that anyone can master the basics of moving others,” writes Pink.

Does the wording “moving others” feel more comfortable to you as it relates to your role as financial advisor? If so, that is a clue that you may be trying hard to avoid being in sales. If moving others is more comfortable, try that on like a new piece of clothing in a dressing room. Think of it Pink’s way: “to sell well is to convince someone else to part with resources—not to deprive that person, but to leave him better off in the end.” Isn’t that what you do day in and day out? You leave clients who are new parents feeling like their growing family is safer. You get a baby boomer client on track with her retirement. You help people and they leave better off than when they first stepped in your office, right?

Just as the cliche of the greasy salesman is a thing of the past, so is the idea that you have the power in the relationship. Isn’t this freeing?! Your clients today have more access to information than anyone has in the history of humanity. They can research anything and come to you eyes wide open. In recent history, the sales person moving others held the knowledge, the power and the know-how. This power shift opens your relationship with your client up to one that can be based on empathy and connection. Now you get to teach people how to see problems that they didn’t know they had and how to solve them. 

As a sales person (yes I said it), your ability to understand rejection as part of the job and “temporary rather than permanent, specific rather than universal, and external rather than personal,” as Pink writes, frees you! If you embrace rejection then you are far more likely to more than make it in the business. In fact, Pink recommends writing yourself a rejection letter that can reveal areas that need strengthening, that rejection isn’t that dire and might even make you laugh. 

This is all between us. You are not, and will never be, a greasy salesman doing your job as a financial advisor. You can move others freely knowing that there is nothing icky or slimy about dialing, prospecting or closing unless YOU believe that. I hope I sold you.