When it comes to sales, many different selling techniques are available.
(article continues below)
However, there is no substitution or more effective strategy for increasing sales than seeing clients face to face.
Generally speaking, in the financial sales arena there are two primary methods to have interaction with clients: in person or via telephone.
For those with little information regarding financial services, it is important to understand the most common sales practices for new brokers and advisors involves a great deal of time spent selling on the phone. While phone selling does provide certain advantages, it lacks in one significant area: effectiveness.
Numerous studies have demonstrated that a great deal of the communication that occurs between individuals occurs in a non-verbal manner.
Psychiatric studies by Jurgen Ruesch and other prominent researchers have determined that disturbances in nonverbal communication are more severe and often longer lasting than disturbances in verbal language. Indeed, Brannigan and Humphries, two well known researchers, discovered over 80 nonverbal communication elements arising from the face and head and a further 55 produced by the body and limbs.
In other words, the face and body do a lot of talking, and if you are selling on the phone, you are effectively deaf to that communication. Given the importance of listening skills in sales, it's no surprise that selling on the phone inherently limits your sales effectiveness.
Perhaps a personal example from experience will illustrate why face to face selling is so much more effective.
Statistical tracking was an important element of sales at the services company that I worked at. We monitored outbound sales call statistics and benchmarks very closely.
Generally speaking, it would take more than 100 phone calls to speak to 10 potential clients. Of the 10 "talk to's", an average financial advisor would be able to set 3 appointments.
Generally, for every three appointments set, two of those individuals would actually show up for their meeting. Of the two that would show up, an average advisor would be able to convert one of those into a client.
As you can see, it would take on the average of 100 calls to see only 2 people. That roughly translates to a 2% conversion rate for setting appointments. By contrast, face to face sales appointments have a 50% conversion rate. Admittedly, our face to face appointments had been pre-screened but, still, the key takeaway is that you can sell more effectively in person than on the phone.
To be sure, if we can present face to face, we have a much higher chance of sales success. Ideally, from purely a closing sales perspective, all sales calls would be in a face to face environment.
While not all individuals are equally as effective at face to face appointments, it would be hard to argue under almost any circumstances that sales calls over the phone have any chance of reaching a similar level of success.
Although phone prospecting is required, anyone considering entering the financial services arena ought to consider establishing as much face to face client time as possible.
While it takes significantly more effort to sell and prospect face to face, such direct efforts can be a great way to improve sales for yourself and within your organization.