The “talk to the owner” technique that closes more deals

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“I want to speak to the top person.” How many times have you heard a prospect make that request? This often makes you feel small or inferior. You may have used the phrase yourself when shopping in a store, frustrated by the seller’s lack of knowledge. “Talk to the owner” can become a technique you use to close the sale.

Negotiations are an important part of doing business in Asia. There is give and take between the prospect and the person making the sale. Even when the terms are agreed, the prospect often says, “Let me talk to the boss.” They figure they can get a little something extra from the person who has to approve all deals.

Your agency has an owner. If you work in a large company, it may have a manager or director. You could own the agency yourself. You could be a sole proprietor and own your own business. Whoever that person is, they can be an important resource. Here’s how it works for you:

  1. “You can speak to a family member.” The agency is multi-generational. It’s a family business. If a prospect feels like “just a number” and not a potentially valued customer, let them know they can talk to a family member. The understanding is that one family member speaks for the whole family. You could be a family member yourself. Reason: The prospect feels like they are talking to “the owner”. Now they have a connection.
  1. “I’ll take care of your account personally.” They could be that one man band. You own the practice. The entire staff is you. If they become a customer, they will be your customer. You will be the point of contact. You are not an anonymous customer dealing with a customer service desk; You have a dedicated professional. You are that. Reason: You have a “go to” person. There is no one above you in the company because you own your company.
  1. “Let me introduce you to our manager.” Everyone wants to be an important customer. They want people to make a fuss about them. When some financial services companies recruit a consultant from a competitor, part of the process is to fly the “prospect” to the company’s headquarters, where they meet senior management. Reason: Her manager makes a fuss about her. The prospect has the feeling of having a direct line to the top person. That’s a strong reason to do business there.
  1. “Our top person will be in touch.” Many agents and consultants protect “their” customers. They don’t realize that these customers are “the” customers of the company. In some cases, the branch manager calls the key accounts directly, thanks them for their business and praises their advisor as “one of our best”. This solidifies the relationship and gives the manager a head start when the consultant changes companies and asks that client to follow him. Reason: Management pays attention to good customers. They like that.
  1. “We’ll assign a team to take care of your account.” The local manager can (but does not have to) be involved in this conversation. The consultant who found the customer has a team. In service business, we might call the agent or consultant the “National Account Manager”. Your job is to be the reference person for the relationship. You will be supported by a team of specialists in various business areas. The relationship may have started with a benefit plan for the client company, but the company wants to do more business. Reason: It is argued why the company will try to increase its share of wallet.
  1. “I invited the owner to join us.” Instead of involving them later in the sales process, you brought the top person into the first conversation. They make the prospect feel special. Maybe the meeting will take place in her office or over lunch in an exclusive restaurant. Reason: The prospect gets the message: you’re not just going to be another customer, you’re becoming one key Client. The owner got involved from the start because he thinks I’m important.

Some agents or consultants may avoid involving the manager because it feels like “someone is looking over their shoulder”. Your manager or the agency owner knows they will be called in to close the deal.

Bryce Sanders is President of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc. He provides HNW customer acquisition training for the financial services industry. His book, Captivating the Wealthy Investor, is available on Amazon.


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