Bridging to higher sales
By: Dr. Kerry Johnson
John has a successful Exempt Market practice. He has great relationships with all his clients. But he is tired of approaching cold contacts and wants to find an easier way. He wants to talk to his prospects and clients about Exempt Market products but seems to always pitch an appointment which rarely works.
Andre is very successful at selling life insurance. But it has become harder for him and his clients to make money. He would love to talk to his past clients about new investing opportunities but some have been burned by Exempt Market deals gone bad pre regulatory changes. He does not know how to start the conversation.
Bridging is the Answer
You have a client you would like to discuss Exempt Market products with as a diversification tool. They have a need but are unaware of these investment options. You are not really sure how to approach them. Bridging is the answer. Bridging is a set of techniques you can use to sell or upgrade clients from your products or services to a higher level or a larger quantity. This is particularly important because not only will they buy from you more quickly than a cold contact, but there is a high likelihood you will be able to retain them as clients longer as they buy more products and services.
But why worry about selling when they have already done business with you in the past? The biggest reason is to keep your client over the long term. But it is also easier to sell to a client than make a cold call to a new one. According to one study, only 17% of clients who bought financial products bought again from their last representative. The biggest reason for this loss of business is the lack of a continuing personal relationship with the client.
According to one study done by LIMRA research:
- There is a 35% client retention rate over five years with 1 product or service.
- Two products - 56% chance of retention over five years
- Three or more products -92% chance of retention over five years.
The more products you have with the client, the longer they will stay with you. Banks know as they gain your checking account, they are much closer to gaining your next car loan, GIC, and retirement accounts.
Hurt and Rescue
What is the best way to bridge your clients into more suitable products? First discover their needs and then move them to other products and services you offer. The method you can use to create this initial interest is a concept called Hurt and Rescue.
Listerine created a brand from the tag line, “the taste you love to hate.” It tastes bad, so you know it works. But the real hurt was to make you worry about bad breath. If they could do that, you would be gargling Listerine every morning. Listerine marketers at first wanted to hurt and then rescue you from the fate that causes friends and strangers alike to flee from your presence.
Infomercials are on TV every day trying to scare you into buying. They offer to rescue you from stains and any other issue by selling, ‘You have a problem’ and then close the sale with, ‘But wait, there’s more.’
For example, very few clients look for a way to better manage their assets. Most do not look at their portfolio statements and do not know if it is even making any money. Finally, when they hear of volatility in their portfolios, they are shocked at the losses. But that is often the first time they pay attention.
An example of hurt and rescue is to ask questions creating a ‘hurt’ or pain to grab your prospect’s attention. These questions are the start of the conversation.
- Only 25% of Canadians will be able to retire without going back to work at 65. Would it help if we could prevent that from happening to you?
- It is likely that the market will correct another 15% in the next 12 months. If we could ensure that you do not lose even a penny, would that be a benefit?
- I noticed that you are paying more taxes that you should as a retiree, would you like to pay less?
As you ask these questions, your job is to let them know how much of a problem (hurt) their lack of knowledge creates and how you can ‘rescue’ them from those worries. Here are 5 steps you can use to ‘Bridge’ your clients into an appointment and help them solve their problems.
1. Make an Introductory Statement
An example of this is to make a statement that scares the client, or gains their attention. “The average Canadian retirement account is only $29,000,” “75% of Canadians won’t be able to retire without going back to work,” “You are paying twice as much tax as you should,” or “You will need 15 times your salary at retirement to maintain your lifestyle without running out of money.” These are all examples of good introductory statements.
2. Ask a Bridging Question (Search for Needs)
These are questions used after the introduction statement that brings the concept home to your prospect or client. You need to personalize the hurt statement with a query. “The market is already down 10% since this time last year. It is likely that you will have to go back to work or live on a substantially less amount of money. Do you have a plan for this? What will you do”? “You will need fifteen times your salary at retirement to live on 80% of your earnings. You only have $50,000 saved right now. What plan do you have in place to hit this goal?”
After you ask the bridging question, try to find out how worried the client is and how much the issue bothers them. In many cases, clients mistakenly think they are content with their financial plans. But they really have not thought about the future enough to make any plans at all.
Bridging works because it helps you uncover needs your client may not have thought about. I just bought a new Porsche 911s through my company. My auto insurance agent told me that if I had an accident, the other party could sue my company also because it owned the car. What plan did I have in place to protect my company from that risk? He then sold me a commercial policy on my auto, double the price of a personal auto policy.
3. The Recap
This is arguably the most important part of the process. As you listen to their needs, you are ‘rescuing’ the whole time. But as soon as you get 3 needs, Recap everything you heard in your client’s own words. The will either correct you or add more needs. Either way, you are building a case motivating them to find a solution.
‘So let me get this straight. You are concerned about future market volatility, increasing your RRSP returns and avoiding losing any more money. Did I get all that right?’ When they say yes, you can then move on to the trial close for a solution.
4. Trial close
These are the money questions. This is where you ask if they would benefit if you could help them. If you can master this stage, your closing rate will be nearly 100%. No one will ever say no to you again. Because you will never pitch a product again. You will only find solutions. You will only sell what prospects tell you they want to buy.
Examples of trial closes are: If I could help avoid running out of money during retirement, would that help? If we could work on avoiding future market volatility, increasing your RRSP returns and avoiding any more losses, would you feel better about things? If we could decrease your taxes, would that help you? If we could help you retire without going back to work, would that be something you would like to look into?
5. Book an appointment
When they say yes to your trial close, an appointment is assured. If they say no, go back and ask more questions, you have not probed for needs well enough.
Your clients already trust you. You have their attention when you want it. But it is up to you to continually stay in contact and help decrease risk, improve their lives and then solve problems. One of our coaching clients in South Carolina, has a tax practice. He calls his clients every 3 months to check up on them. In addition to his tax practice, he also sells retirement planning. His closing rate is 80% on every call. The reason? He bridges them to a product he uncovers a need for. Sure, he hurts and rescues. But mostly he listens. Your clients would rather buy from you than anyone else. Why force them into other relationships. But even if you have no clients and are trying to market to new prospects, keep in contact, Bridge, and listen. Your business will grow faster than anything else you can do and your clients will stay with you forever.