Selling Planning

Many people do not plan and a good share of those that do, do not do so completely.  There are reasons for that shortfall.

  1. The don’t know they have a problem or opportunity .
  2. They know about it in an incomplete or poorly defined ways.
  3. They know about it but think they cannot afford the solution.
  4. The problem is not emotional.
  5. It is not yet urgent.
  6. They believe it only applies to others.

No one solves any problem before they know about it and understand it.  For advisors or doctors or lawyers or engineers, problem definition is as important as solution definition.

Clients value things a bit differently than most advisors think.  Advisors should focus on the greatest value that they can bring to the relationship from the client’s viewpoint.  

As determined by MDRT about 30 years ago, clients value:

  1. Definition of a problem or an opportunity that they did not know they had.
  2. A creative solution to a problem that they do know about.
  3. Help with the decisions.

In history there have been many process that assist in decision making.  Some are a bit odd.

In 450 BCE, Herodotus writing in “The Histories” noted:

“If an important decision is to be made [the Persians] discuss the question when they are drunk and the following day the master of the house…submits their decision for reconsideration when they are sober. If they still approve it, it is adopted; if not, it is abandoned. Conversely, any decision they make when they are sober is reconsidered afterwards when they are drunk.”

Some people still use the drunken part of the decision making process as a tool.

Most sales people are trained to “help with the decision,” a euphemism for close the deal, but that value only exists in context of the other values.  Sell the whole set. Spend a little time finding creative solutions to hard problems and find ways to define and describe hidden problems.  The close is then nearly automatic.

You will be surprised how easy it is to sell things to people when they want to buy them.


Don Shaughnessy is a retired partner in an international public accounting firm and is presently with The Protectors Group, a large personal insurance, employee benefits and investment agency in Peterborough Ontario.

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