Authored by Byron Kidder and Richard Rosso, CFP
The U.S. personal saving rate has dropped to 2.4%. The lowest since August 2005.
Per the Federal Reserve Bank of New York based on its Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit for Q3 (released November 2017), credit card balances increased by $24 billion with the flow into 90+ delinquent for credit card balances increasing notably over one year.
On average, Americans maintain a credit card balance of $6,375, up 3% from last year according to Experian. Several Federal Reserve officials appear antsy to raise short-term interest rates thrice or more this year; the combination of dismal median household income growth (although recently there’s improvement), a Fed with an itchy trigger finger and consumers about to get hit with higher borrowing costs because of it, can mean a formidable headwind to consumer spending for the rest of year.
Unless some company decides to raise the ante on the $1,000 bonus anchor point.
Do I hear $2,000?
Wage growth remains disappointing which means to make more money you must stand out!
Forget stocks. The greatest lifetime investment priority is you, your human capital, the contributions which make you invaluable to employers or customers.
The human capital investment is a topic that very few on the front lines of finance wish to tackle.
Thankfully, there is a growing generation of financial professionals who on an hourly or monthly retainer fee basis act as holistic money coaches and are dedicated to partner with young professionals to help formulate and monitor fiscal steps that get them from soil (the basics of debt, saving & investment), to harvest (retirement).
So, what is human capital investment exactly?
The human capital investment is simply, YOU. Yes. YOU are an investment. The greatest investment. A lifetime money-making powerhouse. Earnings if directed wisely, result in long-term financial security and perhaps more important, a career passion that continues up to and far into retirement.
H/T Doug Short and Sentier Research for the following chart:
When adjusted for inflation, wage growth since 1967 has been nothing short of a disgrace. The United States has suffered close to five decades of real wage stagnation.
People, it’s time for a change.
Byron Kidder, an engineer, motivational speaker and author of the book “It’s All About Everything,” helps others focus on amazingly simple actions to improve their lives and wealth.
Sales can be blight or blessing. If we sell to serve others in an ethical and fiduciary fashion, then our household income and wealth conditions will improve. Byron outlines how to perceive and conduct selling in the most positive light.
Sell yourself properly and earn more over a lifetime.
I hope you enjoy this insight from my dear friend, RIA blog and Real Investment Hour contributor Byron Kidder.
Are you daunted at the thought of sales? Well, you are not alone.
Sometimes your impressions of what a salesperson should be with your experience of being sold to form the foundation of what you might perceive as a successful salesperson.
Hollywood does not help with this perception. Those that are terrified of selling tend to think of a stereotypical caricature. You know the type: unethical, sleazy, pressure sales, etc. but don’t let this type of visualization hold you back from getting into sales and reaching what your full potential could be in this arena.
I believe that selling is not forcefully pushing a potential customer to make a purchase on the spot without them being fully vested or without them being able to make a fully informed decision, which means giving them enough time to make that decision.
A great salesperson understands the route of unethical practices may work in the short-term but are not sustainable for a lifetime of business. Why? Because sales is based on added value, reputation, repeat business, and overcoming a client’s previous bad experiences.
I can almost hear the thoughts out there from readers. “I am interested in sales but I am not sure if I could succeed. I just get too nervous at the thought of selling. Like a stage fright. How could I ever be good in sales?”
Relax. For me, selling has never been about the act of selling itself but rather about the personal one-on-one interaction associated with helping others. Selling is a holistic approach to helping a “friend” solve a problem. It is about being you, being natural, and being genuinely honest. There should not be a conflict with your integrity. Integrity and reputation are everything and key to selling regardless of your career path. Don’t do anything you could not live with tomorrow.
Have you ever thought that you ARE selling everyday whether you realize it or not?
First impressions matter and lead to relationships that form the foundation that evolve into lifelong partnerships with clients. Stop giving your power away by pretending to be what you perceive the perfect salesperson should be, selling your soul to complete a sale, and focusing solely on the product. I will lead you on the discovery of profound yet simple tools to harness your inherent selling power.
The Power of the 3 Ss
Sell yourself first! Period.
Don’t fall victim to being forced how you think you should act. If you impose a trait that is not part of your natural personality, it will come across as disingenuous. People want to work with those that are likable.
Close your eyes and take a moment to imagine the person you enjoy working with…. the one who is your “go-to” person because you trust and enjoy working with them. The person who always comes through for you. There may be another person with more experience but you prefer to interact with your favorite person instead.
They have the following traits that when combined translate to being “likable”: fun, smart, reliable, friendly, sincere, honest, trustworthy, and have integrity.
Likeable means approachable. What makes a person approachable?
- They warmly greet you as a longtime friend.
- They are positive and willing to help.
- They make eye contact, smile, and offer a personalized greeting.
- They follow the golden rule or silver rule.
You know a likeable person cares about you and feel as though you are their most important priority during any conversation.
Body language plays a deep role because we subconsciously determine in seconds if somebody is approachable and honest. It can take forever to reverse the bad first impression. Watching your potential client’s body language is imperative to learning how to decipher their needs so you can deliver best in class service. It’s all about your attention to the details.
Your success rate will expand once you have become approachable and focused on selling yourself first. An increase in success leads to a surge in confidence, which correlates to your new focus on selling yourself. You are working with your natural personality instead of fighting it. People are gravitating towards you because you are fun, inspiring, and delivering amazing solutions.
Sell Your Best in Class Service
Only after mastering selling yourself, can you focus on selling your best in class service. This is your differentiator from the competition! It is vital to build and maintain a reputation, trust, reliability, availability, and fastidiousness for impeccable service.
Five of the numerous skills required for selling your service are being likable, communication, fastidiousness, active listening, and providing amazing solutions. It is difficult to nail down a top three list because it is not about a few skill sets. It’s all about everything combined into a cohesive package.
“Fastidiousness” is key and deceptively easy to discuss putting into practice or claim it is being done as course of regular business. Answering the phone every time you receive a call and responding to emails within seconds will be interpreted by your clients as being extremely reliable.
Your clients should never have to initiate contact with you for a status report or update. If you commit to provide additional information to a client, follow through with the information as quickly as possible.
If a client asks a tricky question and you do not know the answer, avoid the trap to commit to something or risk overpromising because you risk losing credibility. They understand you will not always have the answer. Honestly tell them you do not know but you will find out and get back to them – fast! Few things feel worse than having to go back to a client and correct an avoidable error. Overpromising results in unnecessary stress and can damage your reputation over time. Always be honest with your client and communicate information with them freely.
“Active listening and Communication” are two sides of the same coin. Our inability to listen intently inhibits our ability to hear. Take the time to learn about your client’s wants and needs, which can only be accomplished through research and active listening.
What is active listening?
- Ask great questions.
- Focus on picking up on key words or problems (opportunities) clients are having outside of your established job responsibilities.
- Read between the lines. What do they identify as priority items for their company?
- Paraphrase what you hear the client is saying.
- What does your client like? Does not like?
Your job is to find the fundamental problem so you can turn it into an opportunity by providing three solutions, which is impossible without actively listening to your client. This sets the stage for “opportunity selling,” which we will dive into an upcoming blog.
“Problem solving”. We know it is valuable but what does that mean?
You must become solution oriented. I believe that challenges are opportunities in disguise. Clients want solutions to their problems and seek products and services that fit the bill. But how do you know if the solution will actually resolve the fundamental issue?
Root cause analysis is the secret to identifying the right problem. Otherwise, you end up finding a solution for a symptom, which guarantees the problem will resurface down the road. Clients will begin questioning your competency or your motives if you fail to hit the nail on the head and deliver a phenomenal solution to their problems.
Focusing on solutions will open doors because it moves you one step closer to being a value added team member. The goal is to find multiple solutions that solve the problem. Numerous opportunities are lost every day because the focus is on products rather than solutions.
Actively listening to your clients translates into your ability to deeply understand their business. You need to understand your clients’ business so you can recommend solutions that solve their issues and business goals. Understanding your client’s business model requires time, but you can do something that helps expedite it.
Always try to offer 3 solutions for every problem. Your role is to provide enough data for your client to make an informed decision. They will pick the one that best fits their needs and will tell you why they chose it. Avoid making assumptions about what they want and how you anticipate they will choose a solution because this will unnecessarily restrict the quality of the solutions you identify. Most clients will tell you why they reject a solution. This crucial information tells you what parameters to use when searching for solutions now and in the future.
Provide information in a way that your client prefers and makes it easy for them to understand. Be responsive, reliable, and build your reputation as a value-adding member of your client’s team. Clients will have issues (or “opportunities”) that you should help resolve, even if you do not benefit directly through selling your own product and services. Eventually they will stop seeing you as a one-issue solution but as a vital and irreplaceable team member.
Don’t shy away from or be intimidated by the challenges you face. Remember they are opportunities. This is where you get to display your grit to succeed. Grit that screams “I am here for you, the client, and will find a solution no matter what.”
How many of your competitors are offering multiple solutions? Yes, it may require more work but making it part of your repertoire will differentiate yourself from them.
Providing best in class service means being able to assess the client’s needs, creating a plan that establishes a path forward to accomplish the task, allocating the appropriate resources for the task, and monitoring the activity to ensure continual progress toward completion of the service.
Sell Your Product
You have become a phenom at selling yourself and providing best-in-class service. Now you should start thinking about how to sell your product with greater effectiveness. This is the easy part.
- Learn your product inside and out.
- Learn your competitor’s products inside and out.
- Discover what customers think of your product and your competition’s products.
Customers are extremely smart and trying to sell similar products will get you nowhere. They do not care how we fix their issues; as long as it is safe, ethical, cost effective, and fastidious. Clients choose who provides the best “solution” rather than picking between two nearly identical products. Focus on selling yourself and your best in class service.
Sales is not only about selling a finite product. It is about you! You are an extension of your product. Without you the product does not sell, and your clients would not reach out to you without the product. Clients connect with you and decide if they want to do business based on their experience with YOU.
You are selling your vision of what the final solution to the problem will be. The goal is to become an invaluable resource for your customers. Your personality combined with best in class service translates in to a solid reputation and (over time) strong familial bonds will form with your clients.
There is a saying that somebody with a hammer will see everything as a nail. Your newfound focus on finding amazing solutions means you will start accessing the entire toolbox of products to use the right tool at the right time. Remember it’s all about everything rather than a specific tool or rule.
We Are All Born Salespeople
We are salespeople every single day. We all wake up every day with the same or similar goals. You are selling yourself by pushing strategies to achieve success. Some days we are demotivated with the events going on in our lives but do not give up. Use your grit to keep pressing forward and sell using your smile, support, and energy.
Can you be in sales? You are in sales! The recipe is not hard. In its simplicity it is being likable, genuinely being able to connect with people, work to deliver amazing solutions, and strive to provide best in class service. You must learn to sell yourself first.
Can you sell? Sure you can.
Think about it.
You have been doing it your entire life.
Richard Rosso, MS, CFP, CIMA is the Head of Financial Planning for RIA Advisors. He is also a contributing editor to the “Real Investment Advice” website and published author of “Random Thoughts Of A Money Muse.” Follow Richard on Twitter.