Albert Einstein once asked the physicist Niels Bohr whether he really believed that the moon doesn’t exist if nobody is looking at it. Bohr quipped that Einstein can’t prove that it does. In the story the exchange ended with everyone unconvinced and no one sold.
That’s no way to make a living.
Now… if Einstein had been a master salesman, he might have put on a wicked grin and asked in turn, “Can a blind fisherman feel the tide come in?” I don’t have to see the moon to know that it’s there. The real question for you on the sell side is then, “How do I rise with the tide and avoid sinking with it?”
It is not unusual to see people elevate their opinions to the status of infallible conjecture. That is, we all feel entitled to our own opinions, just as we all feel that the other guy isn’t entitled to his own facts. In a nutshell, that’s why facts don’t sell.
As the masters have always said, facts and features tell. Feeling and benefits sell. That gives us
Rule #1: It doesn’t matter what you think you’re selling. You’re selling feelings. That’s true whether the product is Corinthian leather seats, retirement portfolios, high yield bonds, structured products, or sustainable REITs. All of us are blind fishermen feeling our way through the tides.
Rule #2: From physics-to-finance-to-fashion, creativity means just one thing—-change your assumptions. Everyone has a working idea of the business. It’s easy to fall back on our own assumptions and say “I can’t,” rather than asking for the buyer’s assumptions instead. If you want to drive your closing rate above 90%, you need to find out what the buyer assumes before you write off the business. Ask questions then shut up and listen. Remember to ask for the business whenever you have responded to at least one of the buyer’s unmet needs. Speaking of unmet needs takes us to
Rule #3. Top producers with steady income streams cross-trained in different products and styles and kept an eye on what was in favor. Following the rule might make you unpopular with any given sales director, but find a way to do it anyway.
Why? Unless you’re brand new you’ve seen one of those multicolored charts that show which assets were in and out of favor every year for decades. Trading-styles behave that way, too. The sales manager whips that chart out like magic when your product or style is out of favor. It’s ready-made to help you outlast the hemorrhaging of your assets under management.
The wise will also notice that Jamie Dimon and Antony Jenkins have their fingers in lots of different pies. Even when banking looks bleak overall, something is in favor. Why wouldn’t you do likewise? Nothing serves client needs like ready alternatives when the one they chose takes its turn on the bottom.
by James Beck PhD