Boston: “I’ve offered a number of second opinions to transition social contacts into business relationships – but no one is taking me up on the offer” started Shawn, a new advisor in our recent training program. He continued, “Everyone says ‘let me think about it.’ I’m starting to notice a pattern. How do I overcome this stall?”
First off, when prospect’s don’t accept your request to discuss business, rather than assuming you’re hearing an “objection” or “stall” – understand that it’s usually just a signal of an underlying concern. To push the relationship forward with any prospect, your job is to recognize and address these underlying concerns.
There is one simple step for mastering this: address underlying concerns before they come up.
Before they come up? Of course! You have to do your homework and figure out why your prospects are hesitant. The secret is to think in preventive measures – you want to be one step ahead of your prospect. Here is the process we coach new financial advisors through:
Step 1: Identify Patterns
As you begin making business requests, patterns will emerge. The key it to step back and recognize them – this takes self-awareness. In Shawn’s case, he was getting the “let me think about it” response frequently when offering second opinions – he identified the pattern. Other patterns might be that your prospects rarely show up to appointments, constantly question your recommendations, or just don’t ever commit to moving forward. First things first, identify the pattern.
Step 2: Identify Underlying Concerns
Based on the patterns you identify, what are the themes of the underlying concerns? In our specific example, the concern for “let me think about it” might be that the prospect is thinking:
- I don’t want to feel obligated to do business with this financial advisor
- This will take a lot of time and work
- I don’t think this will be worth the effort
Step 3: Address Underlying Concerns Before They Come Up
The idea is to take the underlying concern and insert it into your verbiage. In Shawn’s case, he could insert this before he offers a second opinion. For example:
You know – a lot of times when I suggest a second opinion, some people say they want to think about it first. Most of the time they think the process is more complex and time intensive than it actually is. Can I make a suggestion? (WAIT FOR RESPONSE) It would probably make sense for us to grab a cup of coffee take a look at your situation. I’ll either validate what you are currently doing or offer a few course corrections that could make or save you money. Would you be open to this?
Does inserting the prospect’s concern into your business request always work? No. But will it greatly increase their receptiveness to your request? You bet. You can use the process we coached Shawn through for almost any sales scenario. It pays to be one step ahead of your prospects’ concerns.
Stephen Boswell and Kevin Nichols are coaches with The Oechsli Institute, a firm that specializes in research and training for the financial services industry. @StephenBoswell @KevinANichols www.oechsli.com