Secrets to Success from the Top Sellers in the Funeral Profession (Live from ICCFA’s Sales Olympics)

This week, funeralOne is in Las Vegas for ICCFA’s annual Wide World of Sales Conference. Over three days of “Sales Olympics,” the top marketing, sales and pre-need experts in the funeral profession are sharing their insights on what it takes to find success in the world of funeral sales. Here are some of the top tips that we have learned so far!

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When it comes to the funeral profession, whether we like it or not, we are just as much in the sales business as we are the helping people business. We spend each and every day going above and beyond for our families, and helping them find comfort and guidance in their time of need. But we also have the opportunity to help them give their loved one’s a memorable and celebratory goodbye through our products, services and offerings. And while your title may not have the term “sales” in it, selling people on the value and the importance of funerals is what brings our businesses success day in and day out.

But how exactly can you find that balance between helping and supporting families during their time of need, while also supporting your business by bringing in more sales? It’s a fine art that even some of the top funeral professionals in the industry have had a hard time refining. At ICCFA’s 2016 Wide World of Sales conference, these pros shared the top words that defined their success so far in the funeral sales world.

Understand People’s Motivations

Every team member in your funeral home is motivated and encouraged by different factors. For some people, it may be all about the numbers – how many families they can serve each year, or how many pre-need leads they can close. For others, it may be about the unmeasurable act of helping families find comfort during a difficult time. The key to building a successful sales team that works well together is to define these motivators, and help reward them in a way that ensures continued success.

Dale Amundsen, owner of Ceremony Masters, shared the four primary “F.E.A.R.” motivators that he has seen in sales professionals:

FATALISTS – These team members do “just fine” at their job. They punch in, they do great work every day, they punch out, and then go home. They are successful at their duties… until you promote them into a position of authority and they don’t know what to do. These team members simply want to show up, do their job and do not want to be singled out. Reward these team members by acknowledging their success, and allowing them to be in charge of their continued development.

EXASPERATORS – These team members tend to be very good at their jobs, but they may be argumentative. They often take on the position of “Me vs. You” (or sometimes “Me vs. The World). They may or may not follow the rules, but they are going to make sure that others around them do. However, they are proud of what they do, and they will go out of their way to be successful at their position. Reward these team members by acknowledging their position and recognizing their success.

APPRAISERS – These team members are the analytical, data-driven bunch. They do not like to hear “about” how many leads they need to close. They want to know exact numbers and figures. They likely never give simple responses to questions, but instead offer lots of details, facts, figures and corresponding data. Reward these team members by showing them the data behind their success and hard work. Also give them continued knowledge and facts that will help them become better at their job.

RELATORS – These team members constantly seek praise, and aren’t motivated by much else. They fear ridicule and people telling them their thoughts and decisions are incorrect. They want people to respect them, and they will work very hard to gain this respect. They will not usually be at the very head of your organization, but they will find happiness being second in command. Reward these team members by simply respecting their performance and acknowledging the hard work they put in.

Go Outside Your Comfort Zone to Connect With Your Community

Andy Lopez, the Bay Area Market Sales Director for Service Corporation International, acknowledged (like many of us) that the funeral profession is changing. But he also encouraged everyone to be their own success-agents through four steps that will bring new families into your funeral home:

Evaluate – Don’t make assumptions about what your business is. Take a deep look at who is coming into your doors and, more importantly, who isn’t. Before you change where you are headed in the future, you first need to dive into your sales files for those “golden nuggets” that will tell you where you are succeeding, and where there is room for improvement in the future.

Identify – Once you have looked closely at your business, reflect on the findings. Are there local cultures or communities in your area that you serve often? If so, look for out-of-the-box ways to network and connect with more people in these communities. Is there a large group or community in your area that is underrepresented in your funeral home? Identify small changes that you can make in your business (like new products or specialty services that you can offer) that will attract these communities.

Partner – Write down the strengths of your funeral home, areas in which you think you can improve, and areas where you think you can adapt more. Then, look at local resources and businesses in your community to see if there are any that you can partner with to fit these needs. However, make sure that all partnerships are mutually beneficial. You don’t connect with people by immediately shaking their hand and going into sales mode. Take time to get to know them, learn their motivations, identify their passion, and listen to their struggles.

Maintain – Lastly, once you have identified communities and partners that you can better connect with in the future, be consistent with these relationships. Sometimes we get so excited by new leads and new opportunities, that we drop the ball after we have made our first successful connection. However, consistence is important. If you say you are going to do something or that you are going to show up, be sure to follow through. This is how you build trust and lasting relationships.

Are you attending this year’s ICCFA Wide World of Sales Conference? If so, what has been your biggest insight that you have learned so far? Be sure to share with us in the comments below!

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  1. Graham Burton

    After all that Rilee wouldn’t it be better to admit that we offer a service to the brevered families .Quiet correction that FD’s go above and beyond and share comfort and give guidance in their time of need .Its how we put together their celebration of a lost loved one to enable the families to accept that we “care ” in a “service” that should be second to none but special to that family.