High-Touch Selling Is as Relevant Today as It Was in 1989
Nearly 30 years ago, John Savage, CLU, the legendary Million Dollar Round Table life insurance agent wrote the book High Touch Selling: How to Make a Great Life While Making a Great Living.
Savage covers a lot in this relatively short book and, unlike most of the full-length self-help books written today that reiterate one concept that could easily be communicated in the length of a single white paper, he expounds on many topics including his approach to selling financial products. He covers the basics of selling and human nature, goal setting, management, building a client base and much more.
If you can find a copy, I recommend you buy it. It is an enjoyable read, packed with 30-year-old concepts, many of which are still appropriate today. Although John talks about himself and his experiences, it is clear his purpose in authoring High Touch Selling
is to help others succeed in the business of sales, not to inflate his own ego (like so many current titles).
Among the topics he explores is the technology of 1989, and, surprisingly, his opinion remains relevant today. He writes: “
Technology has quickly infiltrated virtually every facet of our society, in some instances almost to the point of suffocation. Though I am no reactionary about this ongoing phenomenon — technology is, or at least should be used as, a tool — my concern is that it may use us more than we use it.”
John’s point is that, even 30 years ago technology was disturbing the high-touch philosophy that is the necessary basis for successful financial services sales by disrupting relationship-building. Savage’s approach to sales was clearly also his approach to life in general- to help others by providing his best. His basics of treating prospects, clients and business associates like he would treat a good friend was undoubtedly one of the reasons he was so successful in selling.
His “Five-Star Circle,” the five facets of a person’s life that are necessary for balance, includes five foci: family, spiritual, psychological well-being, business and physical well-being. All are important pieces that work together, and per Savage, they are not necessarily equal and will differ per individual, but all are necessary.
Imagine Savage’s reaction to the phenomenon of today where most of the population obsessively checks their smartphone during meetings, family meals, driving, walking through parking lots, attending church services, etc. What has this technology focus displaced and diluted in the five-star circle?
Is there any doubt that his opinion warrants some contemplation? How much does today’s technology disrupt our daily lives — personally, spiritually and professionally? And how much is this incessant reliance on personal technology costing us in the form of relationships, missed opportunities and even lives?
A recent issue of USA Today
ran an article noting that pedestrian deaths totaled nearly 6,000 in 2017 for the second straight year, up 9.5 percent in 2015 and another 9 percent in 2016. The Governors Highway Safety Association study suggests that these alarming increases are mostly attributable to texting while walking and driving in urban areas. The obvious conclusion is that our obsession with smartphones is interfering with our own and others’ personal safety. Is technology “using us more than we use it” when it costs lives?
Of course, technology also offers us much convenience. As consumers, technology offers us the ability to do things we couldn’t do 30 years ago, saving us time, money and energy. We can shop with one click to order any number of items on Amazon. My wife recently found her dress for our daughter’s wedding online. My daughter bought her sofa online. They both first found our family dogs online, although we visited, held and played with each prior to bringing them home. (After all, a puppy is a big decision and one you want to get right since he or she will be with you daily for 15 years!)
No doubt technology is here to stay and will continue to morph into unknown applications. Did we ever think driverless cars would be a reality? How will this change our personal world? Will we eventually opt to forego owning vehicles and the cost of car payments, insurance, maintenance and repairs altogether? Will we rely instead upon a service that we order online, where we enter our current location and desired destination which is then charged to an online account? All without talking to a human being?
The challenge we face is how to leverage technology to be additive but not so controlling that it is destructive. In the world of financial services, search engines allow prospects to explore products and become knowledgeable. This can save us time we had formerly spent in educating those new to the product, and it can also lend us credibility and be additive.
While there are some who are comfortable buying more complex financial products online, most feel the need to talk, meet and trust an advisor who is knowledgeable and caring. Savage refers to the ideal salespeople as “trappers” who eventually catch their prey. I prefer to call them “farmers.” Those who take the time to sow the seeds and care for the plant until it is ready for harvest will build the necessary framework of laying groundwork for a solid and trusting relationship. This enables them to reap years of future sales and referrals that will ultimately grow their business.
Per John Savage, the keys are:
“In essence, your job is to serve, not to be served.”
- Genuinely care about your prospects, clients, coworkers, support staff and their welfare
- Prospect by referral
- Be knowledgeable beyond what is required
- Be patient
- Be consistent and attentive
- Concede and discuss any weaknesses presented
- Recommend only that which you would buy in comparable circumstances
John Savage, High Touch Selling
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