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Seven Ways Financial Advisors Instantly Appear Salesy

There’s a balance to strike and some pitfalls to avoid.

We’ve long said that most financial advisors could be more proactive in selling their services. We think you should have confidence in your offerings and be willing to tell people about them. That said, the line between being proactive and being salesy can be thin. There’s a balance to strike and some pitfalls to avoid. Here are seven signs you’re coming across too salesy:

  1. Handing out business cards prematurely.

Handing out your card too quickly can give the impression that you are more interested in prospecting than getting to know the other person. This applies regardless if your business card is physical or virtual.

Instead, let the conversation flow naturally and wait for a moment when exchanging contact information feels appropriate and mutual.

  1. Giving the impression you’re “sizing them up.”

Asking someone too early about what they do for a living, where they live or what kind of car they drive can come off as sizing them up for potential business.

Shift the focus of your initial questions to topics that are likely to spark genuine interest and conversation. Ask about their interests, recent activities or opinions on general topics. If you’re at an event, first talk about your surroundings before getting too personal.

  1. Following up excessively.

Following up too frequently or aggressively can be perceived as desperate or pushy. Respect their boundaries and decision-making processes.

Allow time between communications and make each interaction valuable. Give the impression of calm confidence and that there’s no need to rush.

  1. Pitching too quickly.

Approaching someone you barely know about working together is ineffective. They probably already have an advisor and know plenty of others.

Build a relationship before offering your services. Once you’ve established some level of trust, you can naturally segue into how you might work together.

  1. Not taking "No" for an answer.

We’re past the days of trying too hard to overcome objections. If someone isn’t interested in working with you, and you persist anyway, you’re coming off as a salesperson.

Respect and accept a "no" gracefully. Acknowledge their decision, and offer to keep in touch if they need advice in the future.

  1. Over-promising results.

Promising the moon, instead of setting realistic expectations, makes people feel they are being sold. This could come in the form of hyping your investment performance, solving a challenge they’re facing or downplaying risks they face.

By managing expectations from the outset, you’re building a foundation of trust and credibility. You’re also creating a sense of partnership and collaboration in achieving their goals.

  1. Being overly scripted.

When you rely too heavily on rehearsed pitches or scripts, people can tell. They can see you shift gears into sales mode, using terminology and phrasing that doesn’t seem natural.

Be yourself. Even if the words don’t come out perfect, at least they are sincere. Keep an eye out for jargon that might be common in our industry, but not common in real life.

The most impactful interactions are those that leave people feeling understood and appreciated, rather than just another prospect in the pipeline. Embrace these principles, and you’ll find that your ability to attract clients will improve, not through forceful selling, but through the natural appeal of your integrity and commitment to their well-being.


Stephen Boswell is a partner with The Oechsli Institute, a firm that specializes in research and training for the financial services industry. @StephenBoswell

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