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The Successful Sales Approach With Jake Larsen

For your prospects to communicate what they are really thinking, all sales conversations you engage in need to build rapport. That’s why early in the sales process, you’re establishing that you have a value proposition that differentiates you from others. As the prospect progresses, trust builds as you align their needs with your value proposition, educating them about how your services offer the right solution. If you do that well, the final step, the close, comes naturally, “See how this makes sense for you? Let’s get you started.”

On this episode of Elementality, Reese interviews Jake Larsen, VP of Sales at Elements. Jake explains how the best sales people lead their prospects through the sale process towards a close that feels logical.

 

 

 

 


Podcast Transcript

[music]

Jake Larsen:
At a very, very high level I think, we all, whether they’re financial advisors or not, tend to over-complicate what selling actually is. We start to think that it’s more about pure persuasion and convincing, when in reality, whatever it is that you’re selling has a value behind it, and that value has to be understood and realized by the person receiving the product or the demo or whatever it is. And if you think about it on the scale from one to 10, one being this brings me no value and 10 being this is amazing, I wanna buy this right now, what you’re really trying to do is move people as close to a 10 as you possibly can.

Abby Morton:
Welcome to Elementality. I’m Abby Morton, CFP and producer of our podcast at Elements. Join us each week as we bring greater harmony to the art and science of financial planning. We want to help you have more meaningful conversations with your clients as you creatively solve their financial challenges. We know your time is very valuable. Count on a good return when you spend it here with us.

Reese Harper:
Welcome to another episode of Elementality everybody. I’m your host, Reese Harper. Here with one of the legends of sales that you guys have never heard of before. We brought him in special. I’m gonna tell a little background story here. I met this gentleman late last year, and despite what I thought about what I knew about sales and helping people understand how to make decisions in the buying cycle, Jake knew about 10 times more than I did, and we were just having snacks over a lunch or afternoon coffee shop, little snack I was having, I remember I was eating a… Jake was a local, organic, vegan muffin. It was an apricot muffin I think that day. [laughter]

Jake Larsen:
Sounds delicious.

Reese Harper:
I can remember the food and I can remember that me and you talked about sales, and for the first time in a few years, I was like, “Man, this guy knows so dang much that I don’t know. I think I’m done doing sales. I’m done. I found my guy. [chuckle] This guy is the guy I call every time I have a sales question. He’s my guy.” And lucky enough for me, Jake had just experienced an exit, a successful exit from a company he helped get off the ground and see all the way through, and it became a publicly traded company, which is a whole another story. And very few people guys will have started a start-up, helped get sales off the ground and were there during the time [chuckle] where it transitioned to be a public company. This is like one-in-a-million shot.

Reese Harper:
Jake’s also a… I’ll say he’s a very talented athlete. And for some reason, I feel like the best sales people in the world seem to be very athletic people, very motivated people. I just like to… With that background, I… For those of you who don’t know, Jake Larsen joined Elements back at the end of last year after a grueling round of interviews, putting him through the ringer and making sure we were doing everything right. And he’s one of the people I think can teach us the most about how to properly talk to people, help them understand what it takes to get people over the hurdle and the hump to make a decision. I just like to welcome Jake for his first inaugural show. It won’t be the last. Jake Larsen, welcome to Elementality.

[chuckle]

Jake Larsen:
Well, thanks for having me, Reese. Little did you know, your sales abilities were better than you thought as you roped me in to join Elements. You closed the deal. [chuckle]

Reese Harper:
I guess I closed it down. I closed it down. I think you closed it. You sniffed out an opportunity and you closed it down.

[laughter]

Jake Larsen:
We’ll both compliment ourselves then.

Reese Harper:
Yeah, yeah. Well, I’m excited to do this. The team has been asking me to actually do this episode for a while, and the reason is because, as you know, financial advisors typically are a pretty technical group. They have a strong kind of analytical left brain, and they like to explain a lot of things. And you have seen me get stuck in that cycle a few times. I try to do sales once in a while with Jake and it doesn’t go super well anymore. They’re just [0:05:00.8] ____ than me. I get on the phone and I’m like… I just start talking, I start explaining everything, and then I get excited and keep talking. What have you learned Jake, about… Just at a high level, if I start with sales mistakes that people make, what’s one of the biggest sales mistakes you think people make in sales in general? It doesn’t have to be specific to financial advisors, but I imagine you can connect it pretty closely.

Jake Larsen:
Yeah, so just… I think at a very, very high level, I think we all, whether they’re financial advisors or not, tend to over-complicate what selling actually is. We start to think that it’s more about pure persuasion and convincing, when in reality, whatever it is that you’re selling has a value behind it, and that value has to be understood and realized by the person receiving the product or the demo or whatever it is. And if you think about it on the scale from one to 10, one being, this brings me no value and 10 being this is amazing, I wanna buy this right now, what you’re really trying to do is move people as close to a 10 as you possibly can. And some people are gonna have a higher buying threshold than others. Some people are gonna have a lower buying… So some people might buy when they’re six or a seven. Others, they might have to be a 10. But in any sort of sales conversation, it’s understanding each other well enough. We call it rapport, having enough rapport that both parties can be open and have a conversation about what they really feel and what they really think about whatever it is that they’re trying to sell or what they’re potentially buying and feeling comfortable… Yeah.

Reese Harper:
Okay, I wanna pause it there, ’cause you got two things you uncovered. One was, you said every product or something has a value. Is it possible that some products don’t have a value? That seemed like kind of a binary way of saying it.

Jake Larsen:
Yeah, I don’t think so. And the value might not be monetary. It could be… There’s some other value. But at the end of the day, it all comes down to a cost if you’re going to feel or expend to acquire whatever the product is, and that could be more time in your life that you get and that’s worth something to you, it could be a return on an investment or an impact that it has on your business. But everything… You make decisions because you’re going to get something out of it and it takes effort, it takes money, it takes something that you have to put in in order to get that outcome. And as soon as you surpass that threshold of value for cost, whether that’s cost financially or whether that’s cost for time and effort, that’s when people make the decision to buy.

[music]

Reese Harper:
You’re trying to discover and expose the real value and make sure that the person’s buying the right thing, right?

Jake Larsen:
Yeah. I think that’s kind of where maybe sales, and I’m doing air quotes here, gets a “bad rap”, is sometimes sales gets pigeonholed into this pushy, persuasive bucket that people are forcing something on someone that they don’t actually want or don’t actually need, and maybe historically that has been the case, but I think the best sales people are able to uncover and educate. I think education is a word that’s not used enough in sales, like to educate the consumer that they have that need and help them realize that they have that. And if it exists and if they agree, then the product is there to solve a problem as opposed to just selling something to somebody that they don’t actually want or have a need for.

Reese Harper:
So I think there’s a… As it relates to financial services and specifically financial advisors who are gonna be selling their own service to a client, the tendency I feel like most people have is to… They match… They tend to match up the wrong… The way they describe their service tends to not match up very well with what the customer wants. And a lot of times, by slightly adjusting how we describe what we do, you’ll not only convert more people, but you’re gonna end up with a more aligned customer that bought for the right reason and that you can retain and… In our industry, retention is not as big of a risk in terms of churn of the customer, ’cause they… Statistically, it has a pretty high retention rate. I think people miss the friction that comes in throughout the year when you don’t have an aligned customer. You end up answering questions that are off your value proposition.

Reese Harper:
They’re asking you for things you don’t actually want to provide or a value you can’t fulfill, for example, you might have a customer that’s really frustrated that their investments aren’t performing well enough, they’re not going up high enough. Because somehow in your sales process, if someone’s… What happened? What’s happening there?

Jake Larsen:
They saw you as the investment guy… [chuckle]

Reese Harper:
Yeah.

Jake Larsen:
And that’s the value that they attributed to you. And to go back to what you’re saying about churn, I don’t think it’s just churn in the financial world, but I think that it’s trust to… Maybe they have other assets to manage that they haven’t felt comfortable to hand over to you, so they do something else with it. And so maybe it may have been a churn, but there’s opportunity left out there because that misalignment was there.

Reese Harper:
So when I’m gonna have a conversation with a prospect, I’m selling… I’m not gonna describe the breadth of services that advisors can sell. Some of them sell a more planning-centric service, some of them sell a more tactical service, some like Dentist Advisors are more narrow in a niche. But as I go through a prospect conversation, what’s the first… Take me through a first call. What am I trying to accomplish there?

Jake Larsen:
So it actually starts before you engage in that call. You as the advisor or a company that’s selling something, you have a value proposition that you know you can offer the world. You have a skill or knowledge or product or something that differentiates you from others, and so that’s where it begins, is you have to know what value you’re gonna bring these people. And it could be… I guess I shouldn’t use the word differentiation. It might be… Some other competitor might be able to provide some of those values, but you have to know what the value is that you’re gonna bring people.

Jake Larsen:
And so when you get into discovery, and a lot of people think that discovery is just asking people the question like, “What keeps you up at night?” or “What are you worried about?” or “What are you concerned about?” and it really opens up Pandora’s box for that discussion to go a million different directions, but the best sales people are able to lead their prospect to where they want them to go. So if… I won’t try to roleplay here, but I hope you kinda get what I’m saying, is you want to lead them with the type of questions that are gonna help them come to the understanding that you’re trying to get them to or to teach them something that they didn’t already know. If you ever get a client or a prospect or someone that says something along the lines of like, “Oh, I never thought of it that way,” or “That’s interesting, I’ve never thought of that,” that’s how you know you’re getting good discovery and good discussion in helping them realize that they have a need that they didn’t know that they had before.

Abby Morton:
Hey, it’s Abby. Are you on the hunt for ways to grow your book, speed up your planning process and better serve your rising star clients and prospects? Then it’s time to find out how Elements is helping advisors like you all across the country, modernize their approach to financial planning. To chat with us, go to getelements.com/demo and we’ll show you how Elements can help future-proof your business.

[music]

Reese Harper:
Jake has never sold financial services before. He’s now sold software to financial advisors who are selling financial services. But Jake’s not been… I didn’t have Jake on today to talk about the nuances of the product, the way to specifically position. The reason I wanted to have Jake on today is because he has a broad experience in sales across a plethora of different types of customers, a variety of different type of customers, I should say, and now different… The same principles being applied to different situations. And so when we talk about value or matching up value, in my experience in working with you Jake, I’ve seen that some value propositions are stronger than others. Some are kind of weak and some are pretty strong.

Reese Harper:
And this is where I kinda wanted to explore next is, I don’t think financial advisors actually understand or maybe are aware of what the most common value propositions are out there in the market, what something can do for someone that is a real compelling thing. If you had to kinda talk through some of the generic benefits or most common high compelling benefits that certain things offer, your experience is primarily in software-related sales to different types of business owners. But I do think I wanna pull from this and I’ve got some ideas about…

Jake Larsen:
Apply it to advisors?

Reese Harper:
How advisors could do this on their own as well. So give me a sense for where you think the biggest pain is that you see across different customers and different products.

Jake Larsen:
Well, I think in… Most of my experience is in B2B sales, but I think that it extends even just to general consumers as well. In B2B, it’s specifically some sort of return on that investment. They’re looking at growth. I think growth is one of the most dominant pains that every company sees. Very rarely do you run into a company that says, “No, I don’t wanna grow.” Most people in running a business are trying to expand their revenue, and so they’re always looking for ways to grow. I think almost every value proposition is going to come back to that in some way, shape or form, whether they’re looking for efficiencies that allow them to increase their margins, that’s gonna be growth, whether they’re looking for adding new clients or customers, that’s going to be growth. So I think that’s kind of the low-hanging fruit is growth. But there’s other value propositions that are…

Reese Harper:
Let’s pause on that one, ’cause I think… When I discovered this… ‘Cause my passion has been… For those of you who haven’t read this article, I just posted one on my personal advisor blog, if you go to theadvisor.substack.com, you can read one that I just put on there about the comparison between the medical industry and the financial planning community, doctors being a really highly trusted professional, probably the most trusted professional in the country, and financial advisors being one of the lesser trusted professionals in the country. In fact, financial advisors, there’s more people that distrust you that are listening to you today than trust you. So on average, most people distrust financial professionals, where doctors have a… Super majority of people trust the doctor’s opinion. That’s a really interesting question for me, and I like to explore that a lot. And so when I started this product, a lot of the messaging or a lot of the positioning around this product was a reflection of my interest to improve the trust of the financial advisory industry. Let’s get into a better planning model. Let’s do a more holistic job. Let’s focus on financial wellness and try to advance the industry so that it’s trusted a lot more.

Reese Harper:
What I found was that, while that is a really interesting academic exercise, and I was interested in that, that most financial planners… That only appealed to a very small segment. And what Jake is saying is this grow revenue, it’s a more predominant kind of emotional feeling. And so a lot of times when you go to a consumer and you translate this lesson to a consumer, for me, a lot of times when we go to clients, I have found that in the past, I mistakenly made the same assumption, is that people are interested in financial health, that that was a really compelling thing. Don’t you wanna be really healthy with your finances? And I don’t actually think that is exactly what people want. Yeah, they’ll say yes to that, but there’s layers beyond that that have more to do with this growth idea than it does with the health idea.

Reese Harper:
And I think if you were to say, “Why does someone hire a financial advisor at the core?” I think most people are assuming that that person is gonna help them grow their wealth like, “You’re gonna help me get wealthier.” And that presents a lot of different challenges. But I wanted to ask you, Jake, is there another way that you think you could translate the revenue kind of lesson in B2B to a consumer? How else might that show up?

Jake Larsen:
Well, in reality, what you’re ultimately trying to do, is get people to take action. As a planner, you’re trying to get them to do something, whether that’s changing behavior, whether that’s to invest here, to do something. And if you go with that same analogy of the doctor, Reese, why do you go to the doctor? Just ’cause he’s your friend and you like to give them a high-five and talk sports with him? Or what makes you go to the doctor?

Reese Harper:
Yeah, I’ve got chronic fatigue, the story I wrote, I’m tired and I don’t know why I’m sick. I don’t know why I’m tired.

Jake Larsen:
And the first time that you felt tired, did you go to him?

Reese Harper:
Well, I don’t have chronic fatigue. So I’m trying to think about this. The first time, like no, I pretty much neglect my pain for quite a while…

Jake Larsen:
Yeah, until when?

Reese Harper:
Until it so hurts…

Jake Larsen:
Until it’s like, “Okay, I have to do something,” until something is exposed to you that it is enough to make you make a change. Otherwise, human nature is to just stay where you are to status quo, to do what feels safe, to not take risks, to not go to the doctor, until it just hurts so bad that you have to go. And so I think the same thing is to be said with a financial adviser talking to a client or to a prospect or something, or selling a product. At some point on that scale from one to 10, they recognize that they learn or they’re educated, or they feel, “Man, do I really have this problem, that if I don’t do something about it, it’s going to impact me. I’m not gonna be able to live my life, or my finances aren’t gonna grow, or my business is gonna suffer in this way, shape, or form.” And so then they’re ready to make a decision or commit to something because they see that the value that they’re gonna get is worth whatever the time, cost, expenditure of energy is going to be…

Reese Harper:
That’s what’s so hard dude, about financial selling. And I think this makes it so fascinating to me. I’m learning right alongside you here, audience. This isn’t something I figured out in my first year. And there’s probably a lot of you listening that know a lot more than I do about this. And so if you ever wanna send me an email, you know where to find me. But when I look at the way people experience financial pain, it is super subtle. You have to expose something to them. You have to…

Jake Larsen:
Or educate. I would use the word educate. I’m on the same boat. I haven’t been in a situation that I felt a lot of financial pain. But interestingly enough, I downloaded the Elements app myself before Reese brought me over, when I was kind of learning about this, and I started to fill that out. And just the exercise of filling it out and starting to understand, “Okay, what is this? Oh, I don’t know enough about this, or I just was educated… ”

Reese Harper:
“I don’t know exactly what that means.” Yeah.

Jake Larsen:
And that was the… I’ve had financial advisors talk to me and show me their Monte Carlo simulation and this and that. I was like, “Guys, I know what direction I wanna go with my finances. I feel confident. I don’t need you. I don’t feel the pain.” But then when I was exposed to something or educated, like, “Oh, man, I don’t know this. It would be really nice to have someone that I could ask this type of question to.” Now I was open to…

Reese Harper:
Yeah man, it’s the same thing…

Jake Larsen:
It’s educating.

Reese Harper:
I’ve had that happen so many times in my life where I’m like, “I don’t need this,” and then all of a sudden I’m like, “Oh, my gosh, I definitely need that.” And it’s not like I had the pain suddenly flared up. It’s just that my awareness of the pain, my awareness, I’ve got educated to the point where I’m now aware of it. And so…

Jake Larsen:
And if it flares up, it does make you more aware of it too, right?

Reese Harper:
Yeah, totally.

Jake Larsen:
So there’s two ways to get there.

Reese Harper:
It’s just in financial pain, sadly, by the time it flares up, people are so old that they don’t have enough time on their side to do a lot about it. It’s like you’re solving your financial pain is time, value, money really helps you a lot if you can be as smart as Jake is and solve the problem when you’re in your 30s, then you don’t have to solve it in your 70s. And I guess that’s what’s been interesting to me about Elements ’cause when I built it, a lot of this stuff like intuition, you don’t really have a formal… I’m building this as a, whatever, I’m in my late 20s, early 30s, just feeling like a need to do what I’m doing. I wouldn’t have been able to say exactly why I was doing it, ’cause it was the first time I had had a bunch of clients and needed to kind of figure out a solution to a pain I was feeling. And the pain that I was having at the time was… It was 2007, 2008, 2009, the market is just imploding.

Reese Harper:
I’m meeting with people. I’m trying to sell my value. I’m trying to sell my services. I’m trying to sell who I am. And I want more of these people to say yes. I just wanted more people to say yes to be able to step forward and move ahead with me on this journey. And I started talking about comprehensive financial planning all… I do comprehensive planning, [0:25:17.6] ____ only planner. I’m not like all the other guys. I’m a good guy. [laughter] Just all the things…

Jake Larsen:
Yeah the traditional that are said.

Reese Harper:
Yeah, and one of the things that really helped me was starting to specialize and that’s one topic. So we’ve talked about that before, specialization did help me sort of expose people to more things ’cause I could educate a dentist better than I could a software salesman that was an executive ’cause I didn’t know a lot about software salespeople. I just knew a lot about… I knew more about dentists. And so it was helpful. But what really started taking off and where Elements was born is I was able to start exposing people to really granular level issues that they weren’t aware of.

Jake Larsen:
They didn’t know about, yeah. You educated them on it.

Reese Harper:
And I was like, “Okay, well, financial wellness, kind of like medical or physical health, it’s like a body of… It’s a body of topics of areas you have to… We have to find a way to expose this the way that a doctor is doing this work, with blood pressure and cholesterol readings, and I’ve got my FEV to measure my intake into my lungs and my breathing and I’ve got… ” There’s all kinds of tests with scores that they use to measure and expose to the patient. If you went into the doctor and you were like, “I don’t know, I feel sick,” and they grab your arm and they just hold it for a little bit and they’re like, “You know what, I think you’ve probably should do this,” and they give you a recommendation.

Jake Larsen:
There’s no credibility.

Reese Harper:
There’s no credibility there, there’s no objectivity, there’s just like a feeling that someone has. And that’s kind of where financial planning’s at right now is not exposing the kind of granular… And so anyway, I put together this set of scores and kind of started talking to clients about individual topics, like granular-level stuff.

Jake Larsen:
That they could understand.

Reese Harper:
That they could make sense of. And it was interesting, even exposing them to the idea of debt, for example, which they hadn’t heard a lot of other financial planners talk to them about in this way, I would say like, “Well, your debt-to-income ratio, or your debt rate is about this, it’s 7%. That’s pretty low. Did you know that’s low? That’s either good or bad, I’m not quite sure. We gotta dig into that more and find out if you’re gonna be upgrading your house or maybe… I just wanna be prepared in case it goes to 20 or 25, which is where normally I see people in. But I wouldn’t want you to be at 45 where it’s high.” And it was just like, that was enough. It was enough. They were like, “Man, this guy knows more about my actual finances than anyone else I’ve talked to.” And it wasn’t like I talked to them about much, I just talked to them about debt in a way that helped educate them on what it was in an objective way.

[music]

Jake Larsen:
Most people are not logical buyers. They’re gonna be emotional buyers right?

Reese Harper:
Okay.

Jake Larsen:
But when you tug on a cord like that, like debt, and you tell them, “Your debt rate is really low,” what emotion does that make that dentist or that individual feel? When I tell you you’re doing good at something…

Reese Harper:
They’re probably curious, they probably feel good, or…

Jake Larsen:
Yeah, they feel good. Like “Yeah, I do have low debt. Yeah, I’m smart, I’m staying out of debt. I’m doing a good thing.” And this guy, he… And now you start to get rapport and that education kinda sinks in and you can see how the conversation can progress to, in this case, closing the deal as an advisor.

Reese Harper:
Yeah and they’ll ask, “Well, what else do you track? What else are you looking at? What else is there to learn?” You’re kind of like opening the door for them to ask more questions and start to get more granular.

Jake Larsen:
Until they get to a 10, or close to a 10, they say, “Reese, let’s get started.” This makes sense. So much gets put in sales about the close, like coco is for closers and what’s your closing statement? The close in sales should come naturally. It should just be like, “Well, I showed you this. I showed you the value. I showed you what this cost, see how it makes sense. And well, yeah, that makes total sense. Okay, let’s get you started.” It’s not some big trick of persuasive formulaic approaches to how I get you to sign the contract. It’s like you just… I helped you get to the point that you recognize the value, whether that’s your educating or whatnot, so that you are now willing to commit to whatever I asked you to commit to to get the value proposition that I presented to you.

Reese Harper:
Yeah. Yeah it’s tricky. There’s something about… There’s another dimension to this of making it real to somebody. I found… As I was starting to do Elements, I found that it was easier… If I just sold it conceptually, it was not as good as selling someone’s actual numbers. So talking about debt generally wasn’t quite as good as having them write it down on a piece of paper how much debt they had.

Jake Larsen:
Yeah.

Reese Harper:
And then I’m curious why that is.

Jake Larsen:
My comment would be, and you’ve heard me say this before, the confused mind says no.

Reese Harper:
Okay.

Jake Larsen:
If people can’t wrap their head around something, if there’s something that’s confusing to them where they just don’t understand, they’re gonna say no. So where you were speaking conceptually about something, that’s hard for someone to say, “Okay, well, that’s good Reese, but how does that apply to me? So I don’t really get it. And so therefore, I’m just gonna tell you no, ’cause that’s easier than me trying to do the work to really understanding what you’re talking about conceptually.” But if you sit me down and you say, “Hey, Jake, here is your debt rate. Here’s what this means for you and your practice,” and I can understand that, and now I can feel that I’m educated, that pain is exposed and I recognize it, now I can say yes. But if I’m confused, I’m gonna tell you no no matter how pushy you are. You mentioned how things are really sticky and the churn rate is really low and that’s phenomenal right? That’s what any business dreams of, just like retaining all their customers and then anybody they knew is just pure growth.

Jake Larsen:
But the way that the industry is so focused on AUM and investment management, it really leaves very little space for that trust and that education to take place. Because we can’t spend the time educating and teaching and training unless they’re willing to invest their assets so that we can make our fees, otherwise we have… So there’s no way to monetize anything prior to that. And so what we see is an enormous chunk of the potential market underserved because people generally are not… They don’t have a way to go through this exercise that you went through with elements. You either get them to sign a big cheque and give you a bunch of assets to manage, or else you can’t really even talk to them and help them and educate them so that they feel that pain, so they recognize what they don’t know. And then they move up to a 10 where they’re willing to engage with you further, give you more assets to manage, pay higher fees because you’ve been able to do more with them prior to that big cheque commitment of a half a million dollars of AUM.

Reese Harper:
Yeah, I remember when I first went to do fundraising for Elements, I was meeting with a guy named Dave Hirshon, Northern Cal, and he was like… He’s a really successful entrepreneur and venture capitalist and he was like… The thing that kinda blows me away about your industry is there’s a really hard line…

Jake Larsen:
Yeah. [chuckle]

Reese Harper:
For people to have to like… For prospects to have to jump in and it’s like…

Jake Larsen:
Yeah.

Reese Harper:
There’s like nothing until this artificial point in time where people have enough money to where the industry sort of goes after those people. It seems like the opportunity for a financial advisor to be successful is if they can widen their funnel. If they can get just a lot more people experiencing education and trust and moving people to a place where they can have a choice at purchasing in a variety of ways that aren’t just correlated to AUM.

Jake Larsen:
Yeah.

Reese Harper:
He started spouting off things like membership programs, and you can do one-off consults, one to many, you can do freemium, you could have AUM plus fees, you could have subscription. The truth is, if your technology is simple enough and if it’s cost-effective enough, and if you are building it to this use case of more people, speed up the process, grow your book, convert more, focus on education, with lower fees, you can finally start to actually scale and improve your profitability and your margin without adding more cost.

Jake Larsen:
You just have to have tools to do that though, right? You have to have tools to do those types of things and…

Reese Harper:
Yeah.

Jake Larsen:
Unfortunately, the tools that have been provided to the industry, they weren’t built for that. They were built for that hard line that we all see.

Reese Harper:
That use case… Yeah, and then…

Jake Larsen:
What they’re built for.

Reese Harper:
That use case point I was making about this revenue idea is I think that sometimes we don’t… We don’t wanna make that investments in growth and building wealth be the only value we provide, but it’s also one of the stronger kind of human, I think, inclinations is to be with someone who’s confident they can help you grow and become wealthier. That’s a pretty common underpinning, but I don’t wanna say that that’s the strongest one. For a lot of people, these emotional jobs that you’re bringing up, they’re perhaps, more compelling. And I think that’s what you gotta discover in your sales process, right? That’s what you’re saying. It might be…

Jake Larsen:
Yeah.

Reese Harper:
I just wanna have confidence that we’re not missing anything, and then I’m doing all I can. Or it might be more like I just really wanna know that I have someone I can pick up and call any time I have this confusion about something, a choice or some decision I have to make. Or I just wanna make sure I’m just feeling… I wanna make sure that I’m passing, like you said, as much along to my family as possible, so that I don’t have an excessive tax bill. They’ll tell you what it is that their concern is if you ask enough. Once you know what that is, you gotta really stop adding features, stop adding to that story. What I’ve done wrong, I guess, myself.

Jake Larsen:
Yeah, you’re talking about… You’re getting into the feature dumping conversation sometimes. We get… It’s natural, right? When people start to respond and give you what you want to hear…

Reese Harper:
And you try again…

Jake Larsen:
You naturally get excited, it’s like, “Oh, if you think that’s cool, wait till I show you this and I can do this for you.”

Reese Harper:
Wait till I show you this one.

Jake Larsen:
And ultimately, they get confused, and so they say no, or they just don’t remember everything. In sales, I always talk about showing one or two features that solve whatever problem we discovered, whatever we talked about, and after that, transitioning to, “Okay, where are you at on that scale from one to 10?” and seeing where they are at that point. And if they don’t see enough value, that’s when you might show another feature and say, “Okay, well, I don’t… They’re not rated at 10, not because they don’t agree, but they just don’t think it’s worth whatever the cost is,” and I say, “Well, now I’m gonna add another feature. And I’m gonna add another feature. I’m gonna add another value of proposition and another,” and that’s moving them up closer to a 10.

Reese Harper:
So you’re saying…

Jake Larsen:
But don’t just feature dump. Just don’t…

Reese Harper:
Yeah, you present one and kind of see, “Was this enough?” If it’s enough, then…

Jake Larsen:
Great, let’s go home.

Reese Harper:
How do you know? What’s the step you have to pass through to know if that was enough?

Jake Larsen:
You just ask them.

[chuckle]

Reese Harper:
Yeah, exactly. What if people not do very good, though?

Jake Larsen:
That’s what I said at the very beginning. Sometimes we overcomplicate it, right? It is not…

Reese Harper:
Well, and you’ve told me before like, “Dude, you didn’t even ask for the sale.” You never ask them.

Jake Larsen:
Yeah, you didn’t. Yeah.

Reese Harper:
You’re waiting for them to tell you that they wanted to buy, you just kept talking…

Jake Larsen:
But they’ll sit back and listen to your presentation for two hours.

Reese Harper:
Yeah. [chuckle]

Jake Larsen:
And you have no idea if anything that you said for that two hours was what was really what they wanted. So show… Understand what they’re looking for, understand their pains, understand the things that they need. Show them a couple of things that are not just a checklist of, “Okay, first I’m gonna show them this, and then… ” It’s like, you’re gonna show them the things that are relative to them. And then after you show them those few things, you’re gonna ask them, “Okay, so we talked about this pain and this problem that you had or this thing you’re trying to solve, and I showed you how this is going to solve that. What do you think?” Right? “It costs this much. You’ve seen what it can do. What do you think? And are you ready to get started based off of what I showed you so far?”

Reese Harper:
Okay, so let’s say we’re doing this and they say no. Okay. So you did discovery, you identify the pain, you then present your feature too that you think is related to that pain, and you ask for the sale. Remember to do all those things right? So you’ve done all that and they say no. Then what do you do?

Jake Larsen:
So I call it looping. But what I wanna do is I wanna make sure that I actually understand where their head is at. ‘Cause they’re saying no for a reason, but I don’t know why. Was it because they actually didn’t recognize the value? Was it because they didn’t understand it and that’s why they didn’t recognize it? So I wanna come back and say, “Okay,” you always wanna agree, so I’m gonna say, “Reese, I totally get it. I’ve only shown you a couple of things. But if you don’t mind me asking, can I clarify a couple of things?” And you’re gonna say, “Yeah, sure.” I’m gonna say, “Okay, well, at the beginning, you told me X, Y, Z, and then I showed you how this solution is going to do this, this and this.” I’m gonna come back and I’m gonna loop back and just verify that you understand this. “So if I’m understanding you correctly Reese, you understand what this is going to do, you just don’t think that that justifies the cost or the effort that it’s gonna take to invest into this.” And you’re gonna clarify, “Yeah, I get it, I just don’t think that’s worth whatever the cost is,” and I’m gonna say, “Okay, great. So I just need to show you more value.”

Jake Larsen:
If you say, “Well, no, I didn’t get that. It’s not that I didn’t see the value, it’s that I just don’t see how this fits my business,” or “I have a partner that I have to make this, this… ” They’re gonna come with whatever’s actually holding them back. But it’s gonna come back to verifying the looping back…

Reese Harper:
The reason… You gotta go back, you gotta verify that the reason they said no is the one you think…

Jake Larsen:
Yeah.

Reese Harper:
It’s… You wanna know why they said no.

Jake Larsen:
Yeah, the real reason.

Reese Harper:
Yeah.

Jake Larsen:
Not some smoke screen, not some [0:41:20.3] ____…

Reese Harper:
There’s so much smoke screen in sales, isn’t there?

Jake Larsen:
Oh it’s all day. [chuckle]

Reese Harper:
Especially when clients or prospects or friends or family are like, “You know, I don’t know, I’m just not ready, the timing’s not right for me.”

Jake Larsen:
That’s a smoke screen 100%.

Reese Harper:
Yeah, a lot of times you don’t wanna hurt a friend, and these financial advisors are talking to people with their intros and…

Jake Larsen:
Well let’s go back before you go on that one.

Reese Harper:
Yeah.

Jake Larsen:
Before you go on that one, ’cause everybody hears that one all the time, “The timing’s not right”. Reese, when your back is killing you and you need to go to the doctor, the timing’s right, but really, the timing was right before, you just didn’t know what was going on.

Reese Harper:
No one educated me to the pain of what was gonna happen.

Jake Larsen:
The timing is right as soon as they recognize the pain. As soon as they feel it, the timing becomes right. So…

Reese Harper:
Yeah.

Jake Larsen:
When someone tells you, “The timing’s not right”, it’s because they don’t understand or it hasn’t clicked for them, or they just don’t think that what you’re presenting to them is valuable. But people are generally nice. No one’s been taught to call the baby ugly, to say how it really is. [chuckle]

Reese Harper:
Yeah.

Jake Larsen:
And say like, “Reese, I just don’t think that what you’re selling me is worth it.” So what do we do instead? We’ll use smoke screens. We’ll say, “Oh, I don’t know, the timing’s not right.” When in reality, what I’m thinking at the back of my head is I just don’t think that what you’re selling me is worth it. And so you get smoke screened all the time. So you gotta go back. Don’t try to show them more features because they’re still thinking the same thing about the features you already showed them. If you just say, “Okay, well, let me show you more,” [chuckle] in the back of their mind they’re like, “Yeah, why are you showing me more? I didn’t like the stuff that you showed me in the first place.” So going back and making sure… If you go look up the word rapport, go Google rapport and look it up, and it talks about people that are in rapport, they understand each other, not just one person, but both people. And that’s what’s happening is you’re trying to be in rapport with that person so that they understand what you’re trying to accomplish, and you understand what they’re trying to accomplish, what they’re really feeling, and that’s how you actually progress things forward.

[music]

Reese Harper:
For financial advisors, if you’re trying to have a career that is stable, profitable, sustainable, value proposition you can defend, the strongest value proposition you can defend is not the tactical one where you’re like, “I do the Roth conversion, I set up the 401K, I do the investments.” The strongest one is, “I’m going to be your person,” basically. “I’m your person. I’m your financial advisor.” If you can get them to buy into why that’s valuable, they can’t just… They’re not gonna buy… That’s not a pain. That’s the service.” At the fundamental level, if they’re just hiring you ’cause they know they just need your guidance, they’re not really sure exactly what it’s gonna be. It just could be a lot of things. And they’re buying the value prop of, “I don’t know, I just trust Jake. I don’t know, I just trust him.” If you can get them there, that’s a better place in my opinion to be than the one where they bought on a feature that you can’t keep repeating. You can keep repeating trust.

Reese Harper:
If they buy just ’cause they trust you, they want to work with you, the way you do that, and the way we suggested earlier, if you can expose all of the different types of possible pain that really is out there, from debt to savings, to taxes, to estate planning, to insurance, and do it in a way that shows them there’s levels to… There’s interconnectedness to all these pain and it takes someone with expertise to sort of piecemeal it all together, and they’re like, “Yeah, I do trust you now. I trust you. I just trust you. So I wanna hire you. I’m not hiring your feature, I’m hiring you.” If you can get them to hire you, then you’re never gonna lose them. And they’re not gonna get mad at you for a particular feature because they never bought that feature to begin with.

Reese Harper:
They just bought you. And then when you can’t deliver on a feature or a feature doesn’t turn out really well because crypto in the 2009 stock market or real estate crisis, some kind of thing that’s outside of your control happens, and it’s frustrating ’cause it will, it’ll happen, they’re not mad at you ’cause of that feature. They bought you ’cause of trust and you can defend trust, it’s just… That’s how I’m feeling, but I’ve never had like a salesperson look at that general kind of vague description. How would you reframe maybe what I’m kind of trying to say?

Jake Larsen:
I think trust is the byproduct. I think that there’s a solution that they’re looking for that they feel comfortable hiring you for that solution because they identify you as the correct person that they trust to complete that job. But I mean, not to just focus too much on Elements. [laughter] I don’t necessarily know if our job here is to just promote that, but it really is monitoring all areas of financial wealth. I think it’s just like a physician. I think that that analogy is so powerful. What you’re… What they’re really hiring you for is to monitor all their financial situations through the highs and the lows, the good things, and the bad things that they know that you’re always, as a trained mind, [laughter] as a trained professional, you are keeping a close eye on that for them and they can now have the trust in you that you’re looking out for their best interest all the time. So I think that they trust you to do that job. And some of that job might… Monitoring their financial situation would be investing properly, and maximizing their investment, monitoring their risk, doing all those things that you’re doing. But I really think that there’s a lot of strength to that monitor, that word monitoring that we don’t use enough.

Reese Harper:
Dude, it’s funny ’cause… It’s funny ’cause I don’t know if you knew that this was the title of the article I went with this morning, but this one here, I’m just showing you…

[laughter]

Jake Larsen:
I did not.

Reese Harper:
I titled it “Monitor Financial Vitals to Increase Client Trust”.

[laughter]

Jake Larsen:
That’s like exact.

Reese Harper:
That’s exactly what we’re like riffing on here. [laughter] And I think the reason I ended up there was I was like, what’s the most defensible job that I can defend?

Jake Larsen:
Why does someone go to the dentist every six months?

Reese Harper:
They’re just monitoring.

Jake Larsen:
They’re monitoring, right? They’re… But there’s best practices to help you stay healthy so that you don’t have cavities down the road.

Reese Harper:
Yes. But here’s the problem that existed before Elements, man. How can you monitor if you don’t have any scores?

Jake Larsen:
You can’t.

Reese Harper:
You can just be emotional and subjective and you don’t… It’s not helpful. You can’t monitor without some objective scoring system. And it can’t be manipulative. It has to be true. It’s gotta be an actual objective set of scores.

Jake Larsen:
I think people generally want that, right? Everyone asks themselves the question of, “I hope I’m doing okay. I hope I’m making the right decision.” Does everybody feel enough pain to like pick up the phone and call on a financial advisor? No, not always, but I think people have that. And so coming full circle back to what we talked about at the very beginning, the value proposition and understanding what you do and maybe how you approach it and what are the right questions to ask when you’re talking to a prospect, I would ask what I call leading questions that are going to help people kind of expose that they have that pain or they feel that, “I worry about my finances. Am I making the right decisions? I need to monitor this, but there’s so many moving parts to what I need to monitor. I don’t have the time or resources or tools or education to do that. I need someone that can do that and this is my person.”

Reese Harper:
It’s been a fun conversation. I think it was good for me to get that article published today and…

Jake Larsen:
Yeah, that’s funny that it aligned. [laughter]

Reese Harper:
Yeah, yeah.

Jake Larsen:
We’ll say… Those that are listening to this, we talked about this kind of sales journey, there’s so many aspects of this that are like, you could do training on these things for an hour or more a piece and we kind of jammed a lot into this.

Reese Harper:
Do you think you’re gonna start writing a few articles for the audience here today?

[laughter]

Reese Harper:
Alright.

Jake Larsen:
I’m not as good of a writer as Reese, but maybe with Reese’s help.

Reese Harper:
Let’s get some more content out there. We’ll have to… Today was sales journey 101. Alright, we’ll come back and we’ll do some deep dives.

Jake Larsen:
But don’t overcomplicate it, right? There’s a value and there’s a cost. And all you’re trying to do is get the value to surpass the cost. That’s your very, very high level. And there’s a lot to that, but it’s not about, how is your day-to-day? How’s the weather? That’s not what moves the needle, right? That’s not what builds relationships and trust. What builds relationships and trust is being aligned in what you’re trying to accomplish.

Reese Harper:
Everybody, have a great one. Thanks so much for tuning in, just really appreciate all the audience and all the listeners. It’s always fun to be able to put some content out there for you and hope you enjoy it. And thanks to Jake for taking time out of your schedule and to be with us today. We’d love to…

Jake Larsen:
I’m happy to jump on.

Reese Harper:
Have you again soon. Thanks a lot.

Abby Morton:
Next time on Elementality…

Carl Richards:
Imagine a Venn diagram that… Actually it’s really just two circles.

Reese Harper:
Okay.

Carl Richards:
There’s no overlap. And this is actually my definition now of real financial planning is in one circle you have use of capital, and capital has an asterisk next to it, and the asterisk is time, attention… Sorry. Time, money, energy, and attention. So we got these four sources of capital. So use of capital is in one circle and the other circle is what’s important to you right? We could swap that out with values historically [0:52:00.1] ____ or we could change it. My favorite word is purpose. So we have one circle that’s like financial purpose or what’s important to me, and the other circle is use of capital. I think real financial planning is the continual alignment of those things, right? ‘Cause it’s neverending.

Abby Morton:
You can learn more about the Elements Financial Monitoring System at getelements.com/demo and schedule a time to talk with one of our friendly financial planning experts. Elementality’s executive creators are Reese Harper and Carl Richards. Elementality is produced by Abby Morton and directed by Jordan Haynes. Have a good one.

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