What ‘American Idol’ Can Teach Financial Advisors About Sales Process

Posted By on Oct 21, 2013|0 comments


When I watch television, I want to be taken away, amused and entertained. “American Idol” bores me. It tries to come off as a competition, and I just see it as scripted.  When watching “American Idol” or any TV show, I want to be distracted from real life.
But for all my dislike of “American Idol,” it has a great process: individuals with a story compete with controversy and there’s audience interaction. WHAT A PROCESS!

I want to take the success of “American Idol “and use the great parts to teach financial advisors that sales is a process. As a sales trainer for financial planners, I stress the importance of individuals testing what works best. Then once your test works and it sticks, keep doing it.  After 13 seasons, “American Idol” still brings in more than 13 million viewers an evening. Test, stick, repeat. “American Idol” has it down. Now it’s your turn.

Pay Offs of a Sales Prospecting Process

Before we dive into the specifics, let’s look at the importance of having a sales process. Here are some facts from www.followupsuccess.com:

  • 48% of sales people never follow up with a prospect
  • 25% of sales people make a second contact and stop
  • 12% of sales people make more than three contacts
  • 2% of sales are made on the first contact
  • 3% of sales are made on the second contact
  • 5% of sales are made on the third contact
  • 10% of sales are made on the fourth contact
  • 80% of sales are made on the 5th-12th contact

My hope is that these statistics encourage you to takes steps to put a sales process in place. Clearly it pays off.

I think process is the true driver of success. You succeed with outcomes that build momentum for the sales process. Specific benefits of having a sales prospecting process are that you:

  1. Generate more prospects
  2. Close more sales
  3. Spend more time on qualified buyers
  4. Control the sales process

Discomfort Leads to Confidence

So why do so many of us avoid sales process? Discomfort, fear of rejection, our ego gets in the way, we are unsure what to do. Must I go on?

Townsend Wardlaw helped me with my first sales process. I have told you about Townsend before. He is the one who helped me create a process around sales. My sales process involves making 30 cold calls a day. On the second call I ever made, I connected with a female financial advisor. I was SO nervous, and I was reading right from the script.  Before I ended, she said “Are you reading from a script?”  I tried to play it off … but just like our parents knew when we snuck out of the house after curfew, she did not have to wait for an answer to the question. She knew I was reading from a script.

I was horrified, and I sat there for the next five minutes not wanting to do anything.

But I got back on the phone and made of few more calls. Thankfully, my calls went to voicemail. But then I reached a person live. I was determined not to read the script. I got through the call and went on to the next call and picked up steam.

Awkward calls like the one I experienced on my second try would continue to happen. It would not be the last time someone scolded me, hung up on me or yelled at me. But the important part is that I kept calling, and, as a result, I raised $219 million.

When I speak to financial advisors, they are often hesitant to make cold calls, and they don’t want to try different sales tactics. I think I can change financial planners’ fears about trying different sales plans, because if I, a geek for facts numbers and statistics could be trained to do sales, so can you. But where do you start?

Getting to ‘GO’

Sometimes the hardest thing to do is just to start.  If you are having a hard time figuring out how to start with your sales process, visit http://bottomlinespeakers.com. This is a site run my friend, Brandon Dempsey. Brandon and I met in Panama as part of the Entrepreneurship Organization’s Global Leadership Conference. As we are both avid athletes, we chose to take a tour of Panama by running through the city. While we were running, we struck up a conversation about sales process.  Are you kidding me? A run and a great conversation: What an AMAZING way to see a new city!

Here’s what I learned. Brandon suggests five steps to reach your growth potential:

  1. Take control
  2. Show expertise through questions and uncover the true need
  3. Show your prospect you understand
  4. Connect the dots
  5. Ask for the sale

You can visit Brandon’s site and sign up for his upcoming conference about cold calling and sales process in St. Louis to learn more of his insights.

Test, Stick, Repeat

Once you create a process, then you test it and perfect it. A process is not developed over night. Nor does it stay the same. That’s where you need to take an “American Idol” approach and test to see what works for you.

In Internet marketing jargon, businesses have to pursue A/B testing. This is where you put up two websites or calls-to-action and test a color, a word, or a picture. You then see which of the two variants attracts more viewers than the other. If you are sending emails, you might try each day of the week to see which day gets the most readership. Not surprisingly, testing is also a process.Once you test, you use what works, stick to it, and then repeat the process.

Building a process really creates a great road map to drive more prospects, increase your close rate and grow your business. Starting can be the hardest part, but once you have that momentum, the work was all worth it and you get to reap the rewards. Use “American Idol” for inspiration, or the fact that I, a numbers geek, was able to generate $219 million through cold calls. All either took was a process … millions of viewers and capital later, both are successful.

Next Steps

Learn how processes have enabled success, from “American Idol” to other businesses in your network. Then check out Brandon’s website, http://bottomlinespeakers.com and review his five steps to reach your growth potential.

photo credit: nickel.media via photopin cc

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