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The inside track on selling investments ethically

The Art of Selling Investment Products

By Harry Maximillian | HarryMaximillian | 29 Dec 2022


Yes there is an art to selling investment products. Here we are talking about selling to private investors rather than institutions or financial advisors although some of the same techniques apply.

As someone who has sold a range of products to mainly high net worth individuals, or as they are often referred to, accredited investors, I know most of the techniques and factors that can and will lead to success.

They say that insurance is never bought, it is always sold. The same applies to investments. People don’t normally wake up in the morning and say, “You know what, today I am going to buy some pre-IPO stock.” The idea has to be implanted into the person's mind and a dream created.

The importance of the product

The starting point is always the product. If you have a product that has been around for years then the next few paragraphs may not apply. But old products can always be revamped to make them more enticing.

When designing a product it is imperative you remember the maxim, if it sounds too good to be true it usually is. This is on every investor's lips when they see a savings product offering 9% interest. Although that maxim has often been ignored particularly in the world of crypto. And investors are continually being burnt as pyramid and Ponzi schemes crash and burn.

Any idiot can create a financial product with massive returns and outrageous promises, but these are never sustainable. Never. When the millennial tells you that Warren Buffet is old news that should be a warning sign. Just look at Sam Bankman-Fried!

A product should offer sustainable returns, be backed by historic data and have a named team with a verifiable and successful track record. It should also be competitive and must offer one or two key differentiators compared to competing products. Comparing and contrasting is important in the sales process.

Transparent commission and fees together with information on how the product is delivered or held are also important. Credible custodians make a big difference.

The bottom line is a winning product oozes credibility. It doesn’t need to promise the world, it should make deliverable promises.

Delivering on the promise

It may seem obvious but delivering on promises are crucial to a successful product. That is why it is important to build goals and deliverables within the offering document.

Upon achieving these, advisors can point to these deliverables and this will add massive credibility to the product. However remember, if you miss these goals, such as not paying returns on time the opposite is true. Your investment product will die a quick and unpleasant death. Bad news spreads fast on the internet and despite the SEO reputation guru’s claims to the contrary once bad reviews start appearing it is a long steep climb back to the path.

The sales process

In the days of the Wolf of Wall Street it was accepted practice to cold call prospects. The leads usually consisted of lists consisting of previous investors in blue chip or pink sheet stocks.

Things have changed since Mr. Belfort’s time, but fundamentally not by much.

Now leads are generated mainly from SEO and social media activity where potential clients see a copy of an advert and ask for further information. The submission form will include a field for the telephone number. This is imperative for without that it is near impossible to close a sale. Warm leads are where investors have requested information. Sales people love warm leads. No one likes making cold calls but they are still part of the sales process but to a limited extent.

An investment is therefore required in both marketing and a quality team of closers. It is always a trial and error process when choosing which forms of advertising to target and it will depend on the price point and the type of product. Generally however a few forms of marketing to consider include, SEO, Google PPC, YouTube ads and Twitter influencers. In addition, specific paid for marketing on certain niche investment platforms can be very effective.

See my previous article for more information on the sales process in particular the steps for closing a sale.

Ethical considerations

An article about investment sales wouldn’t be complete without a discussion on ethical considerations.

Risk warnings - Display these prominently and include all possibilities.

Full disclosure - don’t hide commissions, fees payable or related party transactions. Legal disputes etc.

Obtain appropriate licenses and approvals.

Obtain legal advice as to whether your offering represents a security and if your firm and or offering should be regulated.

If projections are made, obtain sign off by a firm of accountants and disclose assumptions.

Provide information on the key management team.

Provide contact information including telephone and email.

In conclusion

One of the most important considerations should always be selling in an ethical sustainable manner. If you ignore this then there is a high chance that not only will your investment product and ultimately your sales organization fail but you will be personally liable for the sums raised plus penalties. Worst case you could be headed for the slammer! Raising money from the public should be taken as seriously as a heart attack. Legal advice may seem like a pain in the ass and an expensive one but it will be worth it if things start to unwind which unfortunately happens more often than not.

 

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Harry Maximillian
Harry Maximillian

I am an author, freelance writer, coach and entrepreneur. I write on a wide range of subjects from self-help tips to personal finance, from handling death to cryptocurrency, from combating aging to exercise. My aim is to inspire and inform.


HarryMaximillian
HarryMaximillian

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