August 3, 2009


Familiarity breeds business. Spread your word however you can.

Study each point of contact. Then improve each one significantly.

No matter how skilled you are, you must focus your skills.

--- Harry Beckwith

How can you be credible with commission-based advisors when you've never sold anything? How can you understand their issues? How can you help them?

These questions plagued me when I switched from an "ivory tower" product actuary to an in-the-trenches marketing actuary in mid-2005. To find answers, I started listening to audiobooks from the likes of Zig Ziglar, Brian Tracy, Tom Hopkins, Joe Girard and Jim Rohn.

This messed me up.

Most sales-related training focuses on products. Things like kitchenware, vacuum cleaners, encyclopedias, houses and cars. I thought the financial industry sold products too until Harry Beckwith revealed we sell services in Selling the Invisible.

You can touch a product. A red Porsche 911 convertible helps sell itself. A service is intangible. A service is a promise that something will happen in the future. You can't return a haircut. The service doesn't exist until you buy it.

The Revelation
Life insurance seemed like a product because of the paper policy contract. However, you really get an intangible promise. You're selling your clients peace of mind.

This may be obvious to you but came as a revelation to me. I listened to Selling the Invisible several times and kept uncovering new insights. I never read the actual book until now. The content still compels. I've made 20 pages of handwritten notes for transcription with Dragon NaturallySpeaking for future reference.

Making The Invisible Visible

How we do anything is how we do everything.
--- T. Harv Eker
Do you feel comfortable buying sight unseen? That's what you're asking your prospects to do. They are naturally reluctant. They can't see, hear or touch retirement income, security or tax-sheltered growth. What makes you believable?

Prospects get influenced by what they can see: your business card, the fit of clothing, scuff marks on your shoes, the car you drive, your watch, your ring, your pen, your email signature, your point-of-sale material, your spelling, your washroom. Prospects also notice and expect what competitors have that you don't. For example, a meaningful website, a real email address (not generic Gmail, Hotmail, Rogers, Sympatico or Yahoo), a newsletter.
In service marketing, almost nothing beats a brand.
--- Harry Beckwith
Brands make us feel more comfortable. What does yours say? Harry asks challenging questions like this.

The fresh perspectives and revelations in Selling the Invisible encouraged me to continue upgrading what's already visible but the reasons changed. Upgrading your accessories makes you look successful, a "nice to have". Selling the Invisible points out that upgrading the visible is essential because that's all that clients and prospects can see.

Little things matter, especially when what you and your competitors offer seems similar.

You're primarily competing with your prospect's indifference to act. Making more visible helps overcome their inertia.

You'll find many ideas and "sound bites" in Selling the Invisible. You can certainly read all the way through, but you'll get more practical benefit by reading a section at a time (generally 1-2 pages), reflecting and acting. Thanks for Harry Beckwith for writing a must-have book. Yours to (re)discover.


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