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Archive for August, 2011

Top Wholesaler Mistakes #5 – Slamming The Competition

Posted By Michael Roby | Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

Wholesaling is competitive; VERY competitive. But what business is not competitive? Competition is a fact of life. Unfortunately, so is slamming the competition. “Slamming the Competition” questions the integrity and truthfulness of the competitor, and differs from comparing and contrasting products or services in both substance and tone. Being a Master Wholesaler™ means you never slam the competition, and you act as a professional in every respect.

Recently I attended a broker-dealer conference, which as is typical, was attended by a large number of product partners. Unfortunately, one wholesaler made it a point to jump in on conversations when his competitors were speaking with prospects. What made this amusing was he would say, “What are we talking about?”, as if he had been a part of the conversation. In addition, he slammed competitors when speaking to brokers, and the situation escalated to the competing wholesalers taking pot-shots at one another.

SOLUTIONS: When faced with competitors who slam you and/or your product, don’t play their game. Be a pro. When faced with competition, use the following strategy:

  1. Acknowledge that your competitor is a fine company with good products.
  2. Also state that your product is not right for every situation.
  3. Tell them where your product fits as a superior solution.

A shortened version of the conversation may sound something like this:

“Mrs. Prospect I am very familiar with XYZ Inc. and their product.  XYZ is a good company, and they do some things very well, such as [example.]  My company and our products aren’t always the best fit all the time.  In this case, however, I believe your needs can best be met by OUR product / service.  Let me tell you why. ”

FOR ADVISORS: Don’t tolerate wholesaler who act in anything less than a professional manner, and that includes slamming their competitors.  If it happens, ask the wholesaler to stick to their product, specifically:

  • How it benefits the client
  • How it works
  • Where it fits
  • How to sell it

When YOU are meeting with clients, don’t fall into the trap of slamming your competition. Be a pro, and expect others to do the same.

Good selling!

Top Wholesaler Mistakes #4 – Improper Gifts

Posted By Michael Roby | Monday, August 22nd, 2011

We are a society of gift givers. “Never arrive empty handed,” applies to business as much as it applies to social settings. Recently I dropped off some dry cleaning, and asked the impossible: Could I get it in an hour? Usually – in fact, almost ALWAYS – the answer would be “NO!” One-hour dry cleaning has gone the way of the full-service gas station. However, this time the answer was YES, because the owner is a customer service fanatic. In addition, I drop off cookies once a month. Gifts make a difference.

However, a gift protocol exists in business that says gifts should not be bribes. In addition, many industries have limits – or outright bans – on gifts to prospects and clients. Always be aware of firm and industry rules concerning gifts. Make gifts appropriate and compliant. Nothing is more embarrassing than having to unwind a gift that exceeds gift limits.

SOLUTIONS: First of all, know the rules. Second, know your client. A gift doesn’t have to be huge or expensive. A well thought out gift for a client based upon their interests or passions makes for a better relationship than something that you give to everybody.

FOR ADVISORS: Don’t do business with a vendor strictly because they always arrive with gifts in hand. Select products and services based upon their benefits to your clients and your business. Beware the product-pusher who wants you to business strictly on the basis of gifts or entertainment, especially when no previous relationship exists. In addition, make YOUR gifts to clients appropriate and compliant as well. An advisor I know makes it a point to select PERSONAL gifts for clients. One of his assistants does the shopping once he builds the list.

Gifts are a sign of friendship and relationship. Use them, and use them well.

Good Selling!

Top Wholesaler Mistakes – #3

Posted By Michael Roby | Saturday, August 6th, 2011

This is a series of ten major faux pas’ made by wholesalers, ideas on how to correct them, and suggestions for advisors on how to deal with wholesalers who make these mistakes.

Wholesalers are driven, competitive, outcome focused and BUSY. They focus on the next call; the next appointment. They follow up on calls. Wholesalers order kits and illustrations. They book travel and events. They entertain. Wholesalers watch sales figures, sales penetration reports, and market statistics. They SELL!

However, sometimes they walk right by the biggest asset they could have in getting advisors to sell their product; they snub the Sales Assistant.

Advisors rely upon their sales assistants (SA’s) to do many things, from administration to service to marketing. In addition, the SA helps the advisor focus on priorities, avoid distractions, and in many cases, wholesaler meetings are distractions. With the wide variety of products available, number of money managers, never ending product changes, and wholesaler turnover, an advisor could see one wholesaler every day of the month –or more! The SA often acts as a gatekeeper.

In addition, the SA is the person who will have to deal with a change in paperwork, processes, features, and home office contacts. The SA does not WANT the FA to change vendors, as this creates more complexity in an already challenging position.

If you treat SA’s with anything less than courtesy and respect, you impinge your opportunity to grow your business. Besides, you are never too busy to be nice to people – especially when that person can affect your ability to grow your business and your income.

SOLUTIONS: Recognize Sales Asisstants as people and the professionals who are, bring promotional items* and “goodies,” and be courteous and polite. Acknowledge the SA’s role within the business, and treat them as you would any professional. It’s good business, and the right thing to do.

FOR ADVISORS: Keep your team happy by refusing to do business with firms that disrespect your team. Make certain to introduce wholesalers to you SA(s). Communicate the SA’s role in your business to the wholesaler, and should you choose to add a product to your lineup, insist that the wholesaler spend time with your staff to facilitate smooth processing and good order transactions. Have the wholesaler introduce the SA to the wholesaler’s internal associate, as well as home office key contacts. Don’t forget to treat the wholesaler with respect as well. You get what you give.

Good selling!

* Always be aware of firm and industry rules concerning gifts.