Can you still “Sell” in Non-advised sales process?

I’ve managed teams through the transformation for advised selling and non-advised selling and I have heard all the concerns.

  • You are taking away my ability to sell
  • You are turning us into robots
  • I’ve lost my sales identity
  • This isn’t even a selling role any more

The above statements are typical reactions from sales people you have formed a habit and you are asking them to create new ones. It’s new territory for them but it’s also risky territory in their minds as it may impact their ability to achieve target’s the amount of commission they have been used to and also impact confidence and ego suddenly they might not be as good as they were? Any organization considering this change or currently going through this transformation should invest in engagement plans and a lot of change management to support your teams, before, during and after!

Does it make a difference to performance?

From what I have observed from companies who move from one “method” of selling to another is that your top sales people typically remain the top sales people and for some of your lower performers it helps raise the bar, why I hear you ask?

The answer to this is often simple, in creating a non-advised process you had to think about what went into your product descriptions, how you help the customer navigate your products through the words you use so by default you’ve given them a structure, something to say that you probably crafted when you developed your script based on who? Yes, your top performers!

Your top sales people aren’t your top sales people because they are miss-selling or misleading people in most cases it’s because of their attitudes, their mindset and their ability to connect with people.

But can you really sell in a non-advised environment?

So not in the traditional sense if you see selling as “hard sell” “high pressure” like the films of  “Glen Garry, Glen Ross” or the cut throat selling we saw in the “Wolf of wall street” these techniques don’t apply in many selling circles including advised selling but non advised selling in my view is a skill that really separates the weak from the strong. The key difference is that it takes away the sales person’s ability to make a recommendation as the expert, it does however require excellent communication skills and the ability to phrase, rephrase information without steering or misleading and all this whilst you have a customer in the balance.

People believe non-advised selling means they can’t Fact find – “what’s the point I can’t use that information any way to make a recommendation so why bother?”I’ve heard these countless times and the reality of this statement is that it’s simply not true.

A good fact find does three key things in any sales model be it advised or non-advised.

  1. It opens up the reasons why the customer is looking around the market, it gives you clarity that what you offer is linked to something that the customer might be interested in so asking key probing questions on what’s prompted the call, what’s important to them and what they are looking for the product to do for them is crucial in any model.
  2. Asking questions within the fact find not only helps you establish needs, it helps you build rapport and allows you to empathise with the customer and build TRUST, no one buys from someone they don’t feel they can trust, and you won’t build it without investing in some good dialogue.
  3. It allows you to correctly establish the link back to their demands and needs, yes you still have demands and needs in a non-advised sales process and establishing the links back to your discussion earlier help reaffirm choices and reduce risks of cancelling later down the line.

But can you still ask for the business?

Regardless of whether your sales process is advised or non-advised the customer still needs someone to ask them if they want to go ahead, in fact they are waiting for you to ask, the customer isn’t as informed as the insurance specialist on advised or non-advised sales so in their mind they are calling a sales team and they have mentally prepared for themselves to be sold to, advised or non-advised, they feel like you are selling to them so to not ask for the sale when they expect you to is bonkers.

The beauty of Non-advised selling though is the way that you can filter through options and discount products or components through your questioning or filters and it gives you great opportunities to check understanding throughout a very good technique to gain “YES” statements which ultimately then help you gain a “YES” to commitment to proceed and close the business!

But it’s so scripted, how do I make it my own?

The reality of most sales organisation’s is that they will have a script, guide, framework or at the very minimum a set of work instructions for you to follow when completing a sale, the more gifted sales people make that this their own and, in some instances, create their own scripts for the key pieces of information a customer needs to know. Obviously, some compliance statements if selling at a distance or setting up direct debits etc will need to be read verbatim but what you say and how you say the bulk of your product descriptions and your conversation is very much within the sales persons gift if it is clear, fair and not misleading in any way.

So, in summary, yes absolutely you can use sales techniques in a non-advised sales process, some of which are more subtle then others and involve you taking more time to check understanding and  explaining your product differently but all the key sales processes still exist and the more astute sales agents will make them their own, your job as a sales leader is to help coach them to do that and help shift that mind set.