In his careers as a lawyer, wealth advisor and a director of investor advocacy, Daniel R. Solin has concluded that mastering the art of selling -- being able "convince'' somebody that you have something of value to offer them -- can be accomplished by rigorous discipline and sincere commitment to your client.
Solin, who is the author of the respected “Smartest’’ series of books, including “The Smartest Investment Book You’ll Ever Read’’ and “The Smartest Portfolio You’ll Ever Own,’’ has written a new book being published next month that is an easy-to-grasp guide to sales achievement, The Smartest Sales Book You’ll Ever Read. Solin has been an advisor at Buckingham Asset Management and director of investor advocacy for The BAM Alliance.
In 20 chapters, Solin outlines steps to success that will be of interest to financial advisors, beginning with perhaps the most important element: “Over my career as a lawyer, investment advisor and author, I have “sold’’ hundreds of millions of dollars of legal and financial advisory services and hundreds of thousands of books. There are few mistakes I have not made. One stands out: I talked too much and listened too little. I placed a premium on conveying information and didn’t understand that the key to success was the ability to obtain it.’’
Despite working in careers with stringent standards and principles, Solin values philosophical fundamentals, too: “Making more money (after you reach a baseline level of income) is unlikely to make you happier. But being happier is likely to make you more successful.’’
He is ready for skeptics whose goal is to make more money for clients and therefore for themselves: The book has 54 pages of sources backing up his hypothesis. Among them are studies and reports from the British Journal of Psychiatry, Scientific American, The New York Times, Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers: The Story of Success,’’ the Harvard Business Review, the National Academy of Sciences and the Mayo Clinic.
Part One of the book describes the traits of successful salespeople, which include pragmatism (successful sales people are realistic about their abilities, and willing to improve); honesty (honesty is the most admired trait among business leaders, surveys show); sincerity (to be a success you need to be sincere and be perceived as sincere); grit (success requires “a tremendous amount of motivation, hard work and perseverance.’’); empathy (“Listen, feel, don’t argue’’) and self-awareness.
In the chapter on strategies for successful selling, Solin argues that to sell you must make an emotional connection with your client, and research shows that more than 50 percent of a buying decision is based on emotions.
Under the heading of "Don’t Assume," Solin advises readers never to underestimate a client and he says that asking questions and listening to responses eliminates errors of presumption. Rapport comes from genuine listening: Let the prospect speak first and never interrupt. Solin says men must pay careful attention to this advice as they tend to interrupt both genders, but women, especially.
Paying attention to gender differences is important, he writes. One report that Solin cites says that “women influence over 80 percent of all consumer purchases and spend about $5 trillion annually.’’
Being an advocate of the personal touch in sales, Solin warns against using vague or impersonal presentation tools, but he is enthusiastic about using E-connections. (E-retail spending is projected to reach nearly $380 billion by 2016.) He has suggestions about creating a business Web site. (The site should establish you as reliable, credible, honest and trustworthy.)
In the final section, Solin concentrates on “The Critical Role of Happiness’’ in sales success, again referring readers to numerous studies and surveys that bolster his position.
He writes that “considerable research shows that those who focus entirely on achieving financial success have a lower sense of self-worth and more health issues than those who place a premium on activities that give them pleasure or develop a skill.’’
Sounds obvious, but Solin himself had to learn this by experience, As a lawyer, he overworked for many years, which left him exhausted and with little time for his family or leisure.
It was only after representing investors “who had lost a significant portion of their savings due to flagrant misconduct by their stockbrokers,‘’ that Solin devised the idea of writing a book that would demystify investing and help investors avoid being victimized. He began the “Smartest’’ series with that book.
“The Smartest Sales Book You’ll Ever Read: The Truth About Successful Selling’’ by Daniel R. Solin. SilverCloud Publishing, LLC. March 2014, 277 pages. $27.95.
Eleanor O'Sullivan is an award-winning freelance journalist who has written for USA Today and Gannett newspapers. She has covered alternative and green investing, estate planning and family offices for Financial Advisor and Private Wealth magazines, and reviews new business books of interest to financial advisors. She can be reached at email@example.com.