Let’s say you have allotted an hour for your meeting with a prospect. During the last few minutes, your prospect is expecting you to try and close them. They feel it coming – actually, you both do. Things are winding down and as your prospect feels the end is nearing, their defenses go up. Often times your prospect will not want to commit just yet. They start thinking of how they are going to respond to your request and are fully prepared to shut you down when you ask.
What is “Stopping Short”?
“Stopping short” is a simple concept that ensures your prospect is scheduled for a second meeting before the current meeting has concluded. For instance, you might say:
We’ve covered a lot of ground. Have we been on track so far? (WAIT FOR RESPONSE) Great. It usually takes several interactions to determine if there is a fit. While I’m thinking about it, we should probably get something on the calendar. Would next Wednesday or Thursday work for you? During that meeting, we’ll go through some specific recommendations based on the information we’ve discussed today.”
After you “stop short” and schedule the next meeting, you finish your current meeting. As we all know, clinching a relationship with the affluent rarely happens with one contact. It often takes multiple contacts over time – it’s an art form.
The Right Moments to “Stop Short”
Timing is everything. The best time to “stop short” and schedule another meeting is at a high point in the conversation. Also, you should “stop short” past the midway point and before the conclusion of your meeting. Don’t try to “stop short” 10 minutes into the conversation! That’s just silly. With that in mind, here are a few high points at which “stopping short” is most effective.
- After an affirmative “check”: During the meeting, you should always be “checking” your prospect. This is nothing more than a five second break in the conversation where you ensure you and the prospect are on the same page. You might say something like, “Does this make sense to you?” or “Do you feel like we are on the same page?” or “How do you feel about what we’ve discussed so far?” If your prospect responds affirmatively to your “check” you can immediately “stop short” and schedule the next meeting.
- After a positive comment: If your prospect gives you verbal confirmation that they like where things are going, you can “stop short.” For example, your prospect says something like, “I really like that you have an in-depth planning process.”
- Displaying positive body language: If your prospective client is leaning back with their arms crossed and eyes squinted, “stopping short” may not help whatsoever. You have bigger problems on your hands. However, if your prospect is displaying positive body language clues such as leaning in, nodding affirmatively, and listening attentively - you can (and should) “stop short.”
Your ability to consistently close from meeting to meeting is important, and now “stopping short” is a new tool in your toolbox. Practice this newfound skill; you’ll be glad you did.
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