Consultative Sales: The Anti-“Bud Fox” Method

Published in Barron’s on January 7, 2019

Let’s face it: No one likes the word “sales.” The word brings to mind used car salesmen or Bud Fox cold-calling down the white pages in the movie “Wall Street.” We’re way beyond that … we’re holistic wealth managers; we don’t sell!

Yet “sales” is the layman’s term for the lifeblood of any business: revenue. And that applies to the financial industry just as it does every other industry.

The key is to think of selling in a modern, best-practices context. Up until now, advisors’ predominant sales approach has been one or more of:

•uncomfortable and unpredictable conversations with clients to give you referrals

•pitching an idea over an expensive steak dinner

•going down a checklist of standardized questions like a nurse checking a patient’s blood pressure

•giving scripted responses on how managing wealth or running a financial plan can reduce risk and diversify your prospect’s wellbeing.

“Selling” in this manner is one-sided, helping you achieve an agenda in your terms. Worse, it re-introduces the old-fashioned vendor/buyer framework, which ends up turning both investors and advisors off, thus leading to a vicious cycle of low sales.

There’s a better way! In our opinion, the best way for advisors to obtain new clients, in this era of information overload, intense competition, and price frenzy, is through consultative selling. Consultative selling involves counseling your prospects in their terms, not yours.