The Advisor Loved You—So Who Sunk the Sale?
If you sell to advisors, you’ve probably experienced at least one deal that seemed like a sure thing—but you just couldn’t make it happen.
You hit it off with the advisor. He or she seemed to really get your message. But the sale just petered out, leaving you to wonder why.
On the other hand, maybe you had a client relationship that inexplicably soured. You lost the account without ever understanding what happened.
Pay attention to the people behind the curtain
You might have forgotten an important fact: Advisors aren’t the only gatekeepers you need to get past. Behind the scenes at any advisor firm are the unsung heroes who keep it running. Assistants. Office managers. Operations people. The owner’s right-hand person. These are very powerful individuals, and you ignore them at your peril. Any one of them can squelch a deal or spoil a relationship.
These people aren’t out to get you. They have legitimate concerns. Often, the owner will be tossing your solution onto their desks for them to implement. Getting trained, converting systems, fixing problems, dealing with client complaints, repapering accounts, hanging on your support line for hours—these tasks will all be added to their workloads if you succeed at making the sale. Worst of all, they’ll be first in line take the blame if anything goes wrong. So it’s understandable if the gatekeepers are not exactly rooting for your success.
How to turn a gatekeeper into your biggest fan
The good news is, if you get the gatekeepers on your side, they can become your most loyal champions—not only during the initial sale, but for retention as well. It takes a certain amount of finesse to win them over. You wouldn’t pitch them directly on a formal sales call, and you can’t come out and ask what their role really is. It’s mostly about acknowledging the importance of their relationship with the owner, and creating messaging aimed specifically at them. Then incorporate that messaging into your sales process and collateral. Make sure the website explains how you make their jobs easier and more interesting.
I’ve seen annuity wholesalers handle gatekeepers with real flair. They would roll in with flowers, pastries for the office, or candy for their kids, and win some serious relationship coin. And more importantly, they would spend extra time at the office answering their questions, or scheduling personal training calls with the product team. They recognized if they could make this one woman happy—and it usually is a woman—she would fight tooth and nail for their product.
A word of caution
Do not cross a gatekeeper. They feel easily threatened, and are worried that vendors will throw them under the bus or tell the advisor they don’t know what they’re doing. Convince them your product will help them do their job better, and never, ever say it will reduce the firm’s headcount! Offer extra training and extra servicing to make them the in-house expert on your product.
Take extra care of the gatekeepers at the start of a client relationships, and they’ll reward you with a longer relationship.
NBA Player Carl Landry Demonstrates the Value of Persistence in Life and Work
Written by: Jon Sabes
When you meet Carl Landry, stand-out college basketball player and nine-year NBA player, you imagine that becoming a professional basketball star was a straight forward run for the 6-foot-nine-inch power forward.
However, when you go deeper into Carl’s background, becoming a NBA professional was less than certain and little came easily to the 33-year-old from Milwaukee:
- He was cut from his high school team as a freshman and averaged less than ten points a game when he did play as a senior.
- He started his college career not at Purdue, but a junior college where it was not clear he would play.
- When he finally got to Purdue, he tore his ACL in his knee his first year and reinjured it the next year.
- While his family held a party for him the night of the NBA draft, he slept in the Philadelphia airport after missing a flight following a workout for the 76ers.
- In the NBA playoffs, Carl had a tooth knocked out, but came back in the same game to make a game-winning blocked shot as the Rockets beat the Utah Jazz 94-92.
Landry, who I interviewed on my podcast, Innovating Life with Jon Sabes (www.jonsabes.com), is a remarkable example of the value of “persistence.” In a time where technology creates the image that anything is possible at the touch of a button, persistence is an under-appreciated trait. When I spoke with Carl, I clearly saw someone for whom success has only come through a force of will that made him a NBA player, but it also made him a better player every year he played. That’s the kind of personality that has produced greatness in business as well as sports.
Carl was, in fact, drafted that night he spent in the airport. The Seattle Supersonics chose him as the 31st overall pick and then traded him to the Houston Rockets where he rode the bench for much of the first half of the season. When All-Star teammate Yao Ming was injured, he stepped in and played a key role in the Rockets astonishing 22-game winning streak (the third longest streak in NBA history). And, that season, after sitting on the bench for 33 of the first 36 games, he was named to the All-Rookie second team.
Carl was the first in his family to go to college. “I told myself that this was my ticket out, so I did everything I possibly could to be the best person in school and also on the court,” he said.
His family life in Milwaukee showed him what he didn’t want to do. “Just being honest with you, seeing some my cousins, peers, they went to work for jobs paying six, seven dollars an hour or they didn’t go to work at all and then living off welfare. I didn’t want that.”
When he was first injured, he had to contemplate the end of a career before it even got started. “When you have an ACL tear, it’s over…no more basketball,” he told me. “I said, God, give me health again and I’ll do everything I can to leave it all out on the line and be a successful individual.”
On my podcast, Carl pointed out another interesting lesson he learned in the NBA: Not doing things just to fit in.
“Fitting in was easy,” he said. “Doing everything that everybody else does was easy. If I stood out in some type of way, I’m going to have different results. I’m going to have stand-out results.”
That’s called the “Law of Contrast” and it produces that exact effect of changing the outcomes that everyone else is experiencing. Carl is smart, he recognized that differences make a difference, and doing whatever it takes is what is required to make real, meaningful differences.
Every off-season for the last 11 years, he has run a camp for kids in Milwaukee where he tells youth his story of hard work and persistence. “I always tell the kids to apply themselves and always be persistent,” he said. “If you dream, apply yourself and be persistent. With hard work, man, the sky’s the limit.”
When Carl says the sky’s the limit he means it. He is smart to recognize that it’s important to dream big, because if we don’t – we may be selling ourselves short. “You have to dream bigger than your mind could ever imagine,” he said. “I wanted a nice house. I wanted a nice car. I said, and I got all of that. So, what do I do, do I stop now? Maybe I didn’t dream big enough.” That’s a big statement coming from a kid who grew up to be the first in his family to graduate college and go on to be not only a top NBA basketball start, but a good businessman, father and someone who gives back to the community.
I’m convinced that in whatever he takes on as a basketball player or in his post-hoops career, Carl Landry is not going to stop getting better at whatever he does, and in the process of doing so, make the world a better place.
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