Picture an iceberg. It has only about 10 percent of its total mass above the water, while the other 90 percent is beneath the surface. However, that 90 percent is what the ocean currents act on, and what creates the iceberg behaviour at its tip.
Financial services selling can be viewed in a similar way. When professionals focus on their competitors, products and price, they are fighting for a just small piece at the tip of the iceberg, where the competition is crowded and fierce.
The Tip Of The Iceberg concept is something I came up with many years ago when I was involved in selling. Often I was against more established players, who had long-standing relationships; trying to compete on price was getting me nowhere fast.
Instead, I made a dramatic departure and ignored my competitors. I started to compete on ideas and value. Suddenly I discovered a better way to market and sell – a way that suited me, and was within my comfort zone. It allowed me to be involved in more complex sales opportunities, and I sold more, with less effort.
The Tip Of The Iceberg diagram below is an example of how it works for an insurance business:
Average performers focus on the top 10 percent, and take short-term view, hoping for a quick sale. The objective is to produce a quick quote with the best price.
Top performers, on the other hand, understand that the real value lies below the surface. Their focus is on providing ideas on managing control, and offering value added resources to improve their clients’ condition.
Top performers take a long-term view. They don’t compete by selling a commodity; instead they compete, on their terms, by providing value.
Here are five things you can to become value-focused:
- Focus on ideas. Make your business about ideas rather than about commodity sales, which lead to competing on price.
- Become a problem solver. Take the standpoint of your prospective clients. Think of the worst problems they face in the market segment and solve them.
- Package your ideas. Arrange your best ideas into solutions. It’s a lot easier to come up with new ideas than it is to create new products and services.
- Test your ideas. Locate ideal prospective clients (e.g. from competitors’ key accounts) and test your ideas. If the clients like them they will say yes. What’s even better is when your buyers work with you to customise your ideas, making them stronger and even more valuable.
- Become an educator. Use a variety of means – such as newsletters, speaking, and podcasts – to educate your marketplace instead of merely trying to sell.
Tip of the Iceberg selling is about thinking long-term and focusing on value. As your competitors focus on short-term commodity selling, you’ll be changing the way you and your business compete in your chosen niche markets.
You’ll have fun, as you sell more with less effort, and steal your competitors’ top accounts.