Why the disconnect exists in financial sales between “We’re so great!” and “You’re terrible!”

Imagine getting an email from, Bob, an old friend you’ve lost contact with asking “I’d love to catch up.”

Sounds great, right?

You email back and say, “I’d love to meet and see what’s been going on with you.”

The next thing you know, you’re sitting down for coffee with Bob and the conversation swiftly turns to your finances.

Bob is now asking open-ended questions such as:

  • “What do you see as your biggest challenge to retire?”

  • “What are you currently doing to ensure your retirement is on point?”

  • “What kind of asset protection do you currently have in place?”

The initial positioning of the meeting was to catch up with an old friend, but now you have found yourself in the QUESTIONING phase of Bob’s sales process.

You politely tell Bob you have a financial advisor or an insurance agent and do not currently have any needs. The conversation is now… awkward.

The coffee meeting is now wrapped up, but Bob is about to attempt his Hail Mary to the endzone responding, “If you know anyone who you could introduce me to or use my services, please send them my way.”

Bob entered the meeting full of confidence and conviction. He felt that he could bypass the relationship-building process since they were old friends. To make matters worse, Bob asked you to open your network for them to experience the same painful conversation.

Bob is now perceived as “just another cheesy sales guy” resulting in a diminished value of his personal and company brand.

Here’s the reality.

Financial services sales professionals are not only in competition against the firm across the street but the negative perception of the industry.

A quick Reddit search “hate insurance” gives us a glimpse into the sentiments of your audience.

Here’s the best response:

Prospecting is a key component of selling. Many top firms pay a substantial amount of money for world-class sales training. But this sales training, combined with technology and the hypercompetitive sales culture, has created desperation in the financial industry. The sales training execution positions financial professionals as a transactional-approach first mentality. The exact opposite of the intended outcomes.

Financial professionals have an almost endless number of marketing tools to leverage, but when it comes to the conversation, it’s a sale or no-sale approach.

So, how do we make financial professionals build relationships and sell better?

1. Understand the buyer journey is non-linear

In the example above, Bob felt the buyer journey started with the sales meeting. Unfortunately, his prospect didn’t realize he was even meeting for a sales conversation.

Today’s clients are savvier than ever. Financial needs and solutions are carefully researched before the initial sales conversation. Marketing must step up and play a larger role in the buyer journey to help sellers sell.

Marketers, whether in-house or outsourced, must ask themselves whether they have prepared the sales team to support clients throughout the entire buyer’s journey. Done correctly, prospects will be able to research on their own, find valuable solutions-based content, and feel confident in engaging with a sales rep.

2. Position yourself as a trusted authority

Credibility and experience are key to growing a client base and positioning yourself as an expert authority. Financial sales professionals must create their brand. Your life experiences, or your story, play a vital role in building a personal brand.

A personal brand is about the image you showcase in the world and how others view you and it starts with your digital footprint. When you meet people in real life, the perception should be consistent and mirror the image they perceive from your online presence.

3. Have A Relationship-First Mentality

Implementing a relationship-based sales approach improves success rates. To build relationships with your clients, look beyond what you are selling and instead focus on interest, needs, and wants.

Impacting lives must take precedent over your products and services. We must view impacting lives as more than just solutions we provide. Ways to add value include:

  • If they mention a problem, find some helpful information to send them

  • Offer them access to an event

  • Introduce a prospect to them

When providing value with no expectations in return, you become memorable and set the foundation for a long-term relationship. So, be genuine and authentic.

4. Get your prospect to take action

Let’s be clear in our definition of “action.” The term is not meant to sell. Taking action is the very next step you want your prospect or client to take. To be considered a Trusted Authority, you must stay top of mind. You do this by connecting and engaging on social media, providing valuable content, and creating operating rhythms of staying in touch.

Ask your client to sign up for your company newsletter, follow you on social media, or set up another coffee meeting. Staying top of mind requires some form of action that needs to be taken to increase your visibility.


Very little separates financial products and services from one company to the next. The difference is how you build trust through an authentic and relationship-building approach.

In the example above, Bob’s meeting went south quickly. He made his old friend feel pressured and failed to connect. Bob did everything his company trained him to do, but he positioned his approach as a “we’re so great!” when the reality was “you’re terrible!”. The feeling he portrayed was contrary to his perception.

Now is the time for financial professionals to stop solely following a script and start leading with empathy and truly care about how you can help. When you’re an expert, you command respect. People will listen, pay attention, and ultimately buy from you.