When I conduct one of my power sessions with a new group, I always start out with this seemingly easy question: “Why do your clients do business with you?” I often get responses ranging from, “I am extremely professional” to “I am very knowledgeable” to “I am the best looking.” I then ask a follow-up question: “If everybody in this office can offer the same products or services, what do you really sell?” I get the famous answer: “I sell myself.” Since my job as a coach is to eliminate the fluff, I ask another question: “What does that mean?” Once again, I get a series of responses like “I make them feel comfortable” or “my good looks.”
The answer to the question of what you really sell is rather simple—it is certainty. Understanding and mastering this answer is the most important thing you can do. Certainty is our No. 1 need. Feeling certain is so important that when someone makes us feel certain about something, we will forever be loyal to him. Certainty has many branch words such as “safety,” “comfort zone,” “guarantee,” “control,” “comfortable,” “insurance,” “confidence,” “trust” and “passion.” The last three branch words are often associated with the way we want our clients to feel about us. Uncertainty, after all, creates wars, anxiety and the loss of huge amounts of money. The next time the market drops, look for an article that explains why—I guarantee you will see the word “uncertain.”
If we understand certainty and how to sell it, we will be extremely successful with very little effort. In fact, people pay a tremendous amount of money for certainty. Just look at our local neighborhood bank. It says that if you put money in one of its accounts, it will guarantee a return of 3 percent, and your money is insured by the government. Why put it in the stock market, international funds or real estate where you can lose your money? The bank then invests your money in equities, real estate and international markets.
The answer to the question of what you really sell is rather simple—it is certainty. Understanding and mastering this answer is the most important thing you can do.
So the question you should ask yourself is, “How do I sell certainty to my clients?” To be successful, you must understand that selling certainty requires a different approach from selling a product. Most of us were trained to sell in the era of product-driven businesses, but now we are in the era of process-driven businesses. Here are a few quick ideas you can implement to increase certainty in your business:
• Say the word “certainty.” Don’t beat around the bush. Rather than tell a client you want him to feel comfortable with you, you should say something like, “I am here to make you feel certain about investing.” (Or whatever your practice covers.)
• Use the word “challenge” and avoid the word “problem.” If you had a choice between two golf courses to play on and one was a “problem” course and the other was a “challenging” course, which would you try? I bet you would choose the challenging course. We were taught, after all, to avoid problems and rise up to challenges. The word “problem” evokes a feeling of moving away, while “challenge” evokes a feeling of moving or working together.
• Direct your conversation with a client or prospect towards certainty. After you sit down with a client or prospect, you may typically ask him if he has any questions. You should not. Questions imply uncertainty. If you are selling certainty, why would you want to bring up uncertainty? Instead use the following, which I call a power statement: “I realized we covered a lot of material today. Just so I know we are on the same page, tell me what made an impact or what was important to you.” This moves your prospect toward a positive (certain) answer and he is actually telling himself why you are good.
Gary Parks is an executive coach and president of Coast to Coast in Huntington, New York. He has over 20 years of experience, and his advice will be included in an upcoming book, Speaking of Success, which also features Stephen Covey, Ken Blanchard and Jack Canfield. You can reach Gary Parks at 516-384-8074, at GParks@garyparks.com or GPCTC@aol.com.