At the end of a two-hour fact-finding meeting, financial advisor Marianne told her seemingly enthusiastic prospects that she would research a few things and then create a plan for them. After that, she would schedule a follow-up appointment with them.
They were a professional couple with young children. Their plan would specifically include some crucial life insurance that needed to be priced. There was no doubt in Marianne’s mind that the prospects were going forward!
But a few days later, just before Marianne’s scheduled return with her proposal, the couple called to tell her they had decided to hold off on doing anything.
“I needed that sale,” Marianne complained to me during our coaching session.
“And that’s probably why you lost it,” I responded.
Putting your needs before clients
Our need is the ugliest thing we can show prospective clients. If they believe that your need to make money is more important than their need for your services, they’ll back away as fast as they can. Retaining you to help them or buying what you’re offering must be their idea, not yours.
Even when — especially when — you need the “yes,” make sure your prospects sense only your devotion to bringing them the best and most appropriate service.
I also discussed with Marianne the need to build trust in that first meeting. Did she ask enough questions? Did she get a commitment from them about doing the preliminary work?
Building trust with questions
Here are some suggestions that might reduce the number of prospects who change their minds:
- Ask more and better questions. Situational questions are essential for you to do your work, but they have relatively low value to a prospective client who already knows their own situation. Some of these questions may include
- How does the situation make them feel?
- Why do they feel that way?
- What result would they like to get from working with you?
- How will that make them feel better?
These kinds of questions don’t necessarily add any information to your analysis, but they help you to create a bond of trust with your new client.
- Find out if they’re committed to change before you put in more time. Marianne set the second appointment without obtaining a commitment from them. Ask if they’re receiving value from the discussion and if they have any questions for you. Ask if they want you to go ahead and put together a proposal. Don’t assume you’ll have that next session with them and that they’ll want to attend or accept what you propose.
- Find out if there is any hesitation and what is causing it. If they say, “Let us think about it,” find out what they need to think about. Explore what they agree with, and narrow down what their concerns are. Do they have reservations about your ability to help them, the concept, the financial commitment? It’s OK — and important — to ask these questions.
If you want more prospects to follow through to becoming clients, start by making sure they’re clear that this is for them and that they’re fully committed to the next step. And remember to base the solutions you offer directly on the needs they’ve expressed — not on some generic features and benefits. Make it all about them.
Sandy Schussel is a performance acceleration coach who has been working with financial advisors for more than 20 years, helping them break through to higher production levels.
For more about client communication:
- Read “Discover what questions are getting in the way of finding clients,” from Sandy Schussel
- Watch “3 key methods for my first meeting” (MDRT member exclusive)
- Read “Creating exceptional client experiences” (MDRT member exclusive)