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Smooth Sailing Through the Fee Conversation

You’ve worked hard to get a prospect in your office.  You’ve gathered the appropriate documents, assessed their situation, and discussed your recommendations. Everything seems to be headed in the right direction, but the moment you explain your fees, everything goes south.  

If the above scenario becomes a pattern with multiple prospects, it may be time to re-evaluate how you present your services and fees.

If your fees aren’t fair, that’s an entirely different issue. Assuming your fees are fair, the key is preventing concerns before they arise. The objective is for a prospect to see and experience your process, be wowed, and perceive that your fee is comparable to the services you provide. The following are preventative measures you can take to minimize fee concerns and ultimately sail through the fee conversation.

  • Avoid getting into a fee discussion prematurely. Even if your prospect mentions fees early in the conversation, defer it for now. You might say, “We’ll definitely get to that, as we have full transparency of fees. Let’s make sure we have a complete grasp of all we’d be doing for you first.”  Remember the adage, “Never quote price to an unsold prospect.”
  • The moment a prospect visits your website or walks into your office, everything should look and feel first-class. If you’re office feels discount, prospects are going to expect discount pricing. Very few people walk into a concrete floored super-center warehouse expecting to pay top dollar.
  • Describe the quality of service and frequency of contact you provide, in detail. Compare your service to that of the average professional in your industry. Clearly demonstrate how your service is superior. Consider using slides or visuals to describe your team, service and client contact schedule.
  • Preface your fees before you reveal them. Make it clear to the prospect that you aren’t the lowest cost provider – or the highest. You might say, “Let’s talk pricing. Here’s our general philosophy. We’re certainly not the highest in the industry and we’re not the lowest either, but our objective is to be fair, transparent, and exceed your expectations.  We charge…”

If your fees are fair, and you’ve done a good job of explaining your value, but the prospect is still questioning your fees, you need to be prepared with a confident response. You might say:

“Sure, there are plenty of places you can get discounted money management. Our fees are in the middle of the industry standard but a real bargain because our service is top notch.”

Also, consider telling a story about how you went above and beyond for a client.  Again, highlighting your value.

Don’t fear fee conversations. Instead, focus on preventing concerns and ensuring your prospect is confident that they’ve chosen the right professional. With the growth of automated investment services (aka robo advisors) fee conversations aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Stephen Boswell and Kevin Nichols are thought leaders with The Oechsli Institute, a firm that specializes in research and training for the financial services industry. @StephenBoswell@KevinANichols

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