A Philosophy About Selling – A Service Approach to Selling Preneed
When it comes to most anything in life, it is our passion, purpose, values and motives that determine what we do, why we do it, and how we do it. It’s these elements that help form an individual’s or company’s philosophy; their guiding principles.
I entered the profession of selling preneed in 1971. Over the years, as I grew to understand selling, our profession and the nature of selling preneed, I saw that I needed to develop a philosophy, an attitude or a way of thinking regarding how I should approach my chosen profession. I wanted to define a philosophy that would guide my methods and motives of how I sold.
The Concept of a Philosophy
A philosophy is defined as a rational investigation of the truths and principles of being, knowledge or conduct. It is a system of principles that guides us in the way of why, what and how we will do something according to our values and beliefs. I wanted to define those principles to guide me in what I did and remind me how to do it. That thought process became the genesis that helped me develop my philosophy.
Philosophies on Selling
When it comes to how people’s viewpoints and attitudes on “selling” process, they are varied, especially when it comes to the topic of selling preneed. The purpose of this article is not to debate the pros and cons of selling preneed. The focus here is to discuss the principles and virtue of how to sell preneed.
Starting in the profession of selling, I began initially selling preneed cemetery property and then later entering into the area of selling preneed funerals, cremation, etc. At the age of eighteen I certainly had a lot to learn about selling, and specifically, selling in this profession.Selling is often viewed as doing something “to someone” rather than doing something “for them.” Many people I have met over the years (that did not understand selling), have thought that selling meant taking an aggressive approach. They thought it meant using tactics rather than principles. That is not what professional selling is and not what selling preneed is about.
The Creation of a Philosophy
Fortunately for me, I had been grounded by my parents with a strong work ethic and deep core values about right and wrong, along with a foundation of knowing that hard work and personal discipline were required, and that honesty and integrity were the basis of how you did everything.
I knew, in the truest since of the word, we were in fact selling, yet have always focused on motives; the reason, the purpose, the why things are done. Overtime I have come to define selling preneed as a service. I learned from experience that when selling a family preneed, it was much easier for them at the time of need.
Even though it was a service I had to sell it. How? What would be the principles? I knew to be effective at selling you must be competent in certain selling skills. But how do you take the skills of selling and relate them to something as serious and important as helping families preplan for one of life’s most challenging times? This is something people needed to do and for the most part needed help making the decision to do it.
The Philosophy of ServiceSelling Defined
Over time I developed a philosophy called ServiceSelling. It is defined in this way; selling preneed is a service to families in our community. It is an opportunity to educate them on the advantages and benefits of before need planning and to help them make a decision to take care of this ahead of time. This is a service.
ServiceSelling is defined in two parts. The service is to professionally, ethically and caringly explain the advantages and benefits of before need planning. Then I defined a sale, as the result of the proper service being rendered.
It is a service to inform and educate families about their options, the advantages and benefits of before need planning. When we do that professionally, ethically and caringly, many times a sale is made. I am often asked, does this mean you don’t have to deal with objections? Does this mean that people just buy and you never have to encourage them and try and help them make the decision? Yes, objections come. They simply need to be managed. No they don’t just ask, “Where do I sign?” You have to encourage people to do it now. Remember, it is called ServiceSelling, not ServiceBuying.
Implementing the Philosophy
The concept of ServiceSelling has four distinct elements that help guide the preneed selling process. They help direct the why and the how of the sales process. The elements are professional, ethical, caringly and results. Let’s examine each element to better understand how to implement the strategy of the ServiceSelling Philosophy.
When you engage in the marketing and selling of preneed, it should be done with the highest standards of excellence. To be excellent you must have a high level of expertise. This means not only knowing the products and services you are selling, but also being excellent in the required selling and the ability to build strong relationships.
The high standard of excellence relates to a person’s behaviors, attitudes and the ability to form strong relationships inside and outside the firm. There should never be an ‘us and them’ mentality between the sales professional and the funeral home staff. Holding yourself to the highest standard business practices and the moral virtues of excellence will help ensure you are professional at serving and selling.
When people buy preneed there is a certain amount of trust that is being given by the prospect to the person selling them and to the firm they represent. Therefore, being a person of total integrity is essential to the selling process. We should always strive to be worthy of the trust people put in us.
Being ethical simply means saying and doing what is right. It means that we never be misleading; it means that doing what is right takes precedent over what is profitable. Moral values of right and wrong don’t come from a business or a product, they come from people. As it has been said, “Businesses don’t have ethics, only people do.”
This element of the concept is driven by a person’s passion and purpose. If our passion is to help others, if our purpose is to ensure our prospects understand the benefits of preplanning, then we must proceed with sensitivity.
It is easy for us to forget we talk about caskets, vaults, cremation and other aspects related to our profession every day. However, we must remember the people we are presenting the concept of preneed to, do not. Not only are most people uncomfortable talking about death, they are even more uncomfortable talking about their death.
The ServiceSelling philosophy is defined this way: To professionally, ethically and caringly explain the advantages and benefit of before need planning. We define the Selling aspect this way: The result of the proper service being rendered. Yes, results matter.
The ServiceSelling concept implies that if you have done the service part right, we will get the right results. Making the sale is part of the selling process. Not just telling, but selling. The more professional we are in all aspects of the role, the more sales we will make. Being a person of integrity and honesty is one who becomes worthy of public trust. The mantra here is simple; people buy from people they trust. Last, but certainly not least, we must care. People who care just seem to prosper. Sincerity cannot be faked, people know when you are sincere and when you are not.
Not Just Selling
In the past I have been a sales manager of small and large preneed organizations. Results were always important. How we got the sales were just as important as the volume of sales we generated. Results matter. It was not just reaching our sales targets, but the methods, principles and practices used in obtaining the sales were all a part of the results. It was not just selling, it was ServiceSelling. FBA