It’s been nearly two years since I was first introduced to Tom Love’s “Explanation of Services” concept in a downtown Nashville conference room. It didn’t take long to understand it’s power in almost all aspects of business and life. And it’s no surprise why Tom Love is one of the top financial services producers in the world.
If in sales, the question you get asked most is, “What do you do for a living?” How you answer is a trap—a commodity trap where you instinctually answer by saying what it is you do, “I’m in (insert industry here).” At that point you are immediately lumped (commoditized) into a category with thousands of other people who share that title. You have no differential advantage whatsoever.
That day Tom, a Simon Synek disciple, taught me: People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.
When I moved to Denver to launch my 90-Day Sales Manager™ business, it seemed like a daunting task to begin packaging all my marketing materials. That was until I realized I already had the tools in my tool belt—a powerful explanation of services I’d spent over a year refining.
A great Explanation of Services (EoS) has six components that should serve as your marketing, branding, and unique selling proposition. What it provides is a strong belief about you, your business, and the people you want to do business with. Instead of taking six months to work through a marketing plan—and as a former business professor I’ve done plenty—all I had to do was work through these six components of a great EoS.
Here are the six components of an Explanation of Services as developed by Tom Love:
Step 1: Start with what you believe vs. what you do.
Starter statement: Before I tell you what I do let me first tell you what I believe.
Mine: I believe that trained people outperform untrained people any day of the week.
- Details: When you tell someone what you believe, it triggers an emotional response—in both you and (hopefully) them. Whether this is a positive or negative will depend on if they are aligned with your beliefs. If they, too, believe it, then they naturally become warm and inviting. We see this all the time in the sports world where you can immediately connect with another person just because you are fans of the same team, despite being total strangers (social identity). We also see the opposite happen when you don’t believe the same thing. Both responses are fine in the sales process. Some will share the same beliefs, some won’t, but so what. It’s our job to find the population who do and to partner with them.
Step 2: Tell them why you believe it.
Starter statement: I believe this because…
Mine: I believe that because when you study top producers, regardless of their industries, they have great coaches or mentors or teachers who provide structure, and discipline, and accountability through formal training. As a former college athlete and business professor, my differential advantage has always come from great training and mentors.
- Details: What we believe and why we believe it is shaped by our past (unique background, struggles, mentors, education, experiences). This statement allows us to elaborate on those experiences to deeper connect with others and drive home our belief statement.
Step 3: Tell them what you do because of that belief.
Starter statement: Because of that belief I work at (insert company name) where I (insert what you do).
Mine: Because of that belief I founded a program called 90-Day Sales Manager™ where I on-board new hires in sales. The program is a 90-day boot camp to help those in real estate, mortgage, financial services, and insurance produce much faster.
- Details: Now tell them what you do and who you do it for. Be sure to include title and the company name.
Step 4: How you do it different.
Starter statement: At (insert company) name there are three things that make us different.
Mine: What makes our 90-Day Sales program different is we have over 80 hours of systematic training complete with daily accountability, weekly benchmarks, and monthly assessments. My passion for teaching combined with experience as a sales trainer makes the rigor of this program perfect for those who want to double their production in a 90-day cycle. Our program is intense but positive, meaning we measure progress rather than perfection.
- Detail: This is where you get to separate your products/services based on proprietary systems that make you or your company different.
Step 5: Who you’ve done it for (Proof of Concept).
Starter Statement: Over the past (insert time length) we’ve helped (insert clients or number of clients) achieve (insert results, problems solved, or growth).
Mine: For over a decade, I’ve worked with thousands of professionals including top producers and new hires all over the country. Our client list ranges from insurance companies like State Farm, mortgage companies like Churchill, Real Estate companies like Keller Williams, financial services companies like Invest and many others.
- Details: Aside from your original belief statement, I would argue the proof of concept is the most powerful. This is the meat and potatoes portion of your EoS. It provides validity that you aren’t just some bozo, and that you (or your company) have proven systems that provide results. If you are brand new then lean heavily on the brand you work for and the results they have produced.
Step 6: Ask for the business.
Starter Statement: If we could help you or someone you know just like we’ve helped all these other people what would stop us from getting started? Or…Out of all the things I just said what peaks your interest the most?
Mine: If we could help you, your company, or someone you know double their production in 90-days what would stop us from getting started? Out of all the things I just said, what peaks your interest the most?
Details: There are many differences between an elevator pitch and a great explanation of services—the most obvious is the elevator pitch never asks for business. This may seem aggressive, but in sales you can’t be afraid to ask for business, for contact information, or for referrals.
You can have multiple EoS based on the situation (formal or informal) or based on the group (clientele) you are in front of. We coach reps to have one basic EoS that can be given in just about any situation. You don’t always have to give the full EoS, but can pull from it depending on where the conversation goes. The conversation should feel natural and delivered in a conversational tone. Your EoS will change and will feel awkward at first. The only way to get comfortable giving it is by committing to it. The key is to not get “paralysis by analysis” and over-analyze every word. Remember: done is better than perfect.
I challenge you to change the way you see the, “What do you do for a living?” question. Get in the mindset that this is your performance moment, and a chance to earn someone’s business based on:
- What you believe
- Why you believe it
- What you do
- How you do it different
- Who you’ve done it for
- ASK for the business
For those interested in learning more about Tom Love or his Explanation of Services concept, please visit www.encorefinancialgroup.net. His book is available in a quick read version.Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.