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How Persistent Should You Be with Prospects?

New research shows that a non-persistent sales process to be three times more effective with affluent prospects than one that was too persistent.

How does a financial advisor walk that fine line with an affluent prospect between being too aggressive or too passive?

The answer lies in how today’s affluent investor categorizes their financial advisor’s sales process. The Oechsli Institute recently surveyed affluent investors who were successfully converted from a prospect to a client of the advisor:

How would you classify your financial advisor’s sales process?

Too persistent    7.3 percent
Just persistent enough    69.3 percent
Not persistent  22 percent
Other   1.4 percent

Nearly seven out of 10 affluent prospects said their advisor’s sales process was just persistent enough, whereas 22 percent said their advisor wasn’t persistent at all. The first takeaway is that a non-persistent sales process is three times more effective than one that is too persistent (22 percent vs. 7.3 percent).

In other words, the affluent don’t like pushy salespeople. If you’re known as an aggressive salesperson, dial it down and go passive.

Is there a secret formula for being “just persistent enough?” Advisors who were persistent without being pushy were over three times more effective than their more passive counterparts (69.3 percent vs. 22 percent) and over nine times more than those who were too persistent. The following are three tips for striking that balance.

Three Components of “Just Persistent Enough”

  1. Ask questions. Most advisors enter various situations, ready to find the next business opportunity. They’re basically ready to sell—to talk about themselves and their business. This not-so-subtle approach to uncover new opportunities ends up activating a person’s sales antenna. So make the conversation about them, not about you. Ask general rapport-building questions about the person with whom you’re speaking. Ask about their family, work, personal interests, for examples. When it flows with the conversation, you can subtly begin to ask questions that have a small dose of business implication, such as, “Are you planning to play a lot of golf in retirement?” You get the picture.

  2. Listen. Apply the 80/20 listening rule. This is where you’re talking only 20 percent of the time, mostly by continuing to ask questions, and spending the rest 80 percent listening. It’s important that you’re a proactive listener, as this skill is what will enable you to phrase questions in the moment relative to what you’re hearing. Nothing is worse than pretending to listen and then asking questions you’ve prepared in advance, which aren’t relevant to the conversation at hand. But if you listen, more often than not, your affluent prospect is going to tell you how to sell your services as it directly relates to their situation.

  3. Mini-close. What’s a mini-close? You make a suggestion to further discuss or assist with a financial-related matter that they mentioned to you in conversation. Your goal is for the prospect to take you up on the offer.

    This can take the form of, “Let’s grab a cup of coffee and go over this,” “Can I make a suggestion? Why don’t you come to our office where we can take a thorough look at everything?” or “Let’s get this paperwork out of the way so we can get started.”

    The mini-close is based on human psychology. You make a suggestion; they comply. You make another suggestion; they comply. This establishes a subtle cause and effect pattern where, according to affluent prospects, you’re just persistent enough.

Being persistent enough without being pushy is an art that requires self-awareness, discipline and practice. Whether you need to dial it up and master the mini-close, or dial it down to learn how to listen and conversationally ask real-time questions—all three components above are important.

Today’s affluent prospects want you to have sales skills that are seamless, where you offer your help and expertise without making them feel like they’re in a high-pressure sales situation.


Matt Oechsli is author of How to Build a Successful 21st Century Financial Practice: Attracting, Servicing and Retaining Affluent

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