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The Seven Marketing Secrets You Need to Become a Sales Maker

The Seven Marketing Secrets You Need to Become a Sales Maker

By Ken Mitchell

OK, you have done it. You have said farewell to the company and struck out on your own. You are now an official actuarial entrepreneur.

Now what do you do?

You become a sales maker, the person who brings revenue to your organization. This revenue comes from getting, servicing and retaining new clients. Without this constant stream of sales, the organization will wither and die.

So I want to give you a few quick tips on how to become a sales maker. For the purposes of this article, I have assumed that you will tap into your existing network of industry people for referrals and leads. With that said, here are seven secrets to making sales.

First, in order to get new clients you must be able to ask and answer this one fundamental question, "why should this customer do business with my company and with me?" The answer to the question must reflect the fact that your services will bring him both professional and personal benefits. Can you determine what benefits you can bring to a perspective client both professionally and personally? Can you determine what economic benefits the client will not receive if he does not hire you? Good, now write it down!

Second, what is your lever of differentiation? Simply stated, what is it that your company or service can do that will separate you from your competition? Because customers always need to see a difference between your services and a competitor's, you must clearly be able to demonstrate that the information you have is information the customer does not have. Is it in your process? Is it in your delivery? Will you provide a trial period, whereby the new client can see you in action without getting a fee? Do you have a better mousetrap idea to build the client's business or save the client money that you can clearly explain?

Third, clients buy for only two reasons: to relieve their pain or increase their pleasure. That's it. Buying a new suit, going to a fancy restaurant or buying the latest and greatest HD 50–inch plasma is an example of increasing pleasure. Relieving pain or solving a problem is always expressed in economic terms. Thus, as a rainmaker, you are not selling your services. You are selling money; whether it be risk management, or benefits consulting or life insurance, the actuarial entrepreneur must help customers see the money and turn the benefits you bring into dollars. Can you quantify the customer's return on his investment in you? Can you calculate what the consequences would be if the customer does not hire you?

Fourth, get to the appointment. If a perspective client agrees to see you, it is because he or she wants to know how you can increase their pleasure or decrease their pain. How can you solve their problem? This is the biggest buy–signal you will get! The customer wants to know, "what can you do for me and why should I buy from you given the other resources out there?" Now don't just wing this. You must develop a pre–call sales planning checklist comprised of some or all of these questions:

  1. What is your objective during this appointment?
  2. What is the client looking for? What are his or her needs?
  3. Can you anticipate the objections the client may have to hiring your firm?
  4. What answers will you have prepared that will address these objections?
  5. What are your levers of differentiation?
  6. Bring a sample of a case study or project you worked on that translated into dollars generated or dollars saved for another client.
  7. What benefits will the customer get from your company and you that may not be available from the competition?
  8. How will the client benefit, economically, from hiring your company?
  9. How will you ask for the sale? What are your closing strategies?
  10. What haven't you anticipated or thought about?

Fifth, the initial sales call. Encourage the perspective client to talk about the company, his department goals, his personal goals and expectations. Listen! There is always a reward for listening.

Sixth, ask for client involvement in the sale. After you have laid out your benefits and have been able to "quantify the money" in a simple and cogent manner, ask the customer if he likes your approach. Based upon these facts will he decide for himself if it makes sense? Of course, he will decide for himself, he thinks. By agreeing to decide the customer has psychologically eliminated the option of not deciding. You have just brought the client into the decision process and if your solution increases his pleasure or reduces his pain, you will get a decision.

Seventh, always ask for a referral. As will happen, you will not make every sale or convert every prospect to a client. But you do have the opportunity to ask the prospect if he or she knows of any one who might be interested in your services. Sometimes that swings the conversation 180 degrees, when the client thinks that you will be going to a competitor. Sometimes, you will just get the referral.

Now go out there and make some sales!

Ken Mitchell is president of The Mitchell Group, in New City, N.Y. and has been recruiting actuaries for over 30 years. He can be contacted at 1.800.MITCHEL or Ken@TheMitchelGroup.com.