Marketing Corner – Thursday, December 7th, 2016
10 Reasons Why Your Prospect Says “No”
Advisors experience many no’s throughout their career. It’s simply a matter of course in business and in sales. A no can happen anytime as you engage with a prospect–from the first minutes of an appointment, to after the meeting, to follow-up work, to recommending another solution. The common way advisors approach no’s is playing the numbers game—i.e. after so many no’s you’re bound to get a yes. (Think of the old sales cliché “99 no’s and a yes is still a yes.) While this method of prospecting can work for some producers, there is value in understanding why a prospect says no—especially when there are simple things that you can do to turn them into a yes.
Here are 10 reasons your prospect says no.
They Don’t Trust You
Trust is crucial in converting a prospect to a client. If a prospect doubts whether you are reliable, truthful, and sincere, they are likely to dismiss any great advice you offer. Clients and prospects may not trust you for a variety of reasons, such as you are too eager to sell, your body language is protective and closed off, or they are naturally suspicious of financial advisors.
Build trust by explaining your credentials and experience. Discuss your approach/mission statement and address any concerns a prospect has about the financial planning process head-on. Exhibit confidence, but use warm body language.
For body language tips, check out our previous posts, 5 Body Language Tips for Keeping a Prospect Interested and 7 Non-Verbal Redflags You’re Losing Your Prospect.
They Don’t Understand
Some prospects you deal with will have a comprehensive knowledge of financial planning and only need you to facilitate solutions. Some may understand the basics of annuities or life insurance. Others may not have any understanding of financial and retirement planning. All types of prospects you encounter may balk if they don’t understand the information you provide.
To ensure that your prospect understands—truly understands—first assess their experience with financial planning. Ask them early in the appointment what types of concepts, products, or solutions they are familiar with. Use this information to determine the level of complexity you bring to your solutions. An individual that has no experience with financial planning may need several levels of breakdown before they understand what you present to them. This is also where concept sheets and yellow-pad concepts can help. Check for knowledge as you move through your presentation.
They’re Not Emotionally Connected With The Solution
A prospect may understand the solution you present with clear logic, but if they aren’t emotionally connected to it, they are less likely to see its value for them.
To ensure that your presentation has the proper “punch,” tie products and solutions to the prospect’s end goal—what they truly hope to achieve. Deferred growth or tax-advantaged wealth transfer is great, but what does that mean at the end of the day? How does that fit with what the client is really trying to achieve?
Even simple product solutions can have complex components. Think about how something like a fixed indexed annuity—relatively simple in concept—can be broken down into many different pieces. Even if the consumer understands the individual components, it can be difficult for them to see how the pieces fit together. This is especially true if you are dealing with multiple planning objectives that intertwine.
Avoid overwhelming the consumer using some of the tips discussed in the previous two points. Check for knowledge, use concept sheets, draw illustrative diagrams or maps, and highlight the key benefits. Bring everything back to larger picture.
They’re In The Infancy Of Their Planning Process
Someone who is early in their income-earning phase may not be ready for long-range solutions. Younger consumers may not see the value of retirement planning, when retirement can seem so far off for them. Likewise, older clients may be in the early stages of retirement planning and are not ready to commit to a particular solution.
Highlight the importance of planning early and identify solutions that match with their current lifestyle goals.
They’re Not Confident In Your Solution
There are many different reasons why a consumer may lack confidence in your solution. They may have a key misunderstanding about how it works (if so, see previous points above). They may not trust you as a financial professional. They may have a bias against certain types of solutions based on anecdotal information or news articles.
If the consumer seems to be suspicious of the solution, simply ask them why. Respond using facts and deconstruct the steps to illustrate how this is the best way to accomplish their financial goals. Explore other solutions they feel more confident in.
You Don’t Have The Decision-Maker In The Room
You’ve undoubtedly experienced this situation before: you present a good solution to a consumer. The appointment goes great; you are charming and the consumer indicates they understand clearly the information you’ve given them. Then they say, I’ll have to check with my wife or husband.
This is why many advisors try to involve key family members in the planning process as much as possible. By doing this, you increase the chances you are able to speak to the decision-maker. The rest of the family gets to know and trust you, reducing the likelihood of issues down the line. A family that knows and trusts you can then become a whole generation of clients, with a variety of planning needs.
They Don’t Feel Like You Care
A knowledgeable financial expert is worthless to a consumer if they feel like the advisor doesn’t care or doesn’t have their best interest in mind. Remember that financial and retirement planning very often involves high personal stakes for consumers. To them it’s how they will survive in retirement or pass on a legacy. Do not take the privilege of handling their money lightly.
As you engage with the consumer, demonstrate empathy and clearly listen.
Client Feels Like They Are Being Sold
“Nobody wants to be sold, but everybody wants to buy,” goes the old sales cliché. There’s some truth to this and if you are too eager to sell without drawing on the other things that aid your presentation—such as ensuring the consumer understands the solution, emotionally connecting the solution to their goals, and demonstrating empathy—you will sour the appointment.
Sales is always a part of any recommendation and most consumers implicitly understand this. Amplify the sales aspect of the appointment only in key moments, using the rest of the time to connect with the consumer and provide good information.
You Fail To Understand What Is Truly Important To the Client
A consumer can give you a no if you overlook or ignore what truly matters to them. If they state they don’t want to deal with life insurance and you present a life insurance solution without addressing their previously stated objections first, they will feel like you are not listening to them. If the solution doesn’t satisfy their key objective, then they are likely to distrust you, even if the solution you present has great benefits.
As you engage with the consumer during the appointment, make sure to take good notes, ask probing questions, and tie everything to the consumer’s stated goals.
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Marketing Corner – Wednesday June 29th, 2016
6 Key Challenges Advisors Face Today
Advisors and Agents face many challenges throughout their career. From establishing a practice, building a client base, marketing, and dealing with downturns, the zigs and zags of an agent’s career can be erratic. Here are six key challenges advisors face today.
Shifting Demographics and Client Bases
America is on the cusp of the largest transfer of generational wealth, ever. Over the next 30 years, some $30 trillion will be transferred from Boomers to Gen-Xers and Millennials. That’s a pretty good opportunity for advisors, except for two things:
Nearly 66% of children release their parent’s advisor
Most advisors only focus on a particular age segment
Retaining clients across familial generations requires skill. Although there is no such thing as “easy money,” focusing only on Boomers does simplify your practice. You are able to understand the key needs of this population segment and positions to continually enhance your expertise. But doing this cuts you off from the next wave, which is going to arrive sooner than you think. Some demarcations put the outer edge of Gen-Xers around 1960, which means that in five-ten years, these will be the new Boomers. Plus many Gen-Xers and Millennials (yes, Millennials) represent planning opportunities now. Take some time understand the key issues facing each generation and expand your target market.
Marketing and Prospecting
Marketing and prospecting will always be a challenge in any business. Financial advisors are in especially prone position, however, when it comes to generating leads and converting new clients, since the service they provide is not a tangible object and often involves long time-frames. As generations shift, so too does the effective means to reach new clients. This is where having an array of marketing solutions is helpful. While you may have one core marketing activity (seminars, social media, referrals, etc.) having many different marketing tools will help you adapt to changing target markets. It’s not digital versus traditional or push versus pull marketing. It’s digital and traditional, push and pull marketing.
One immediate challenge facing the financial service industry at large is the DOL fiduciary rule. While advisors can expound endlessly on the potential impact of this rule, it does raise some concerns about regulation in general and the changing perceptions of what it is financial professionals actually do. We’ll see how this change plays out before full implementation (already there are many lawsuits set to argue against the rule) but it points to the importance of staying abreast of industry-wide changes and being diversified in your offerings.
Balancing Being A Good Advisor and A Good Businessperson
A good advisor provides custom-tailored service and excellent care. A good businessperson understands the true cost of profit and has a vision for the company on several different time scales. The challenge many advisors have is that they have to be both a good advisor and a good businessperson. Independent advisors may pull enough in production to hire a support staff, but the responsibilities of dealing with consumers and protecting the business’s growth fall squarely on their shoulders. Time spent as an advisor can take away time needed to ensure business needs are met. Time focused on the numbers takes away from time that could be spent with consumers, which at the end of the day, helps support the vision of the business.
How do you balance this? It may help to establish a distinct marketing and business plan periodically. You may also wish to align with another producer or agency. Or you might seek out a FMO to handle marketing and back office tasks, as well as help shape the scope of your business. However you do it, never forget that you are a business owner and need time to focus on business needs as much as client needs.
The market is unpredictable. While there are best practices, solutions, and strategies that work within and outside the market, the market still casts a large shadow over financial services. Market volatility presents a challenge to advisors in a few interesting ways. Advisors need to have some idea of how products and solutions will perform in the ecosystem of the stock market. Consumers, watching key stock figures and measurements, come armed with their own perceptions, fears, and concerns. This can lead to behavioral finance biases. While you can’t control the market, you can help people address their specific needs. Having a good understanding of consumers’ biases and issues can go a long way to selling your market-tough solutions.
Generalization v. Specialization
The problem many professionals face is to generalize or specialize. This is true of doctors, lawyers, and certainly financial advisors. If you are too generalized, you may miss opportunities to land advance-market, high net-worth clients. If you are too specialized, you may be vulnerable to changes with your specialty and target market. One possible approach for success is similar to the point we made about marketing: have one core offering, with an array of other offerings. This will allow you to go after niche clients, with a sustaining set of services.
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An advisor’s first face-to-face meeting with a prospect is, like all first impressions, very important. Your prospect gains a sense of you as a professional and service provider. If they leave the appointment confused or with a bad taste, they probably won’t park their retirement with you, no matter your years of experience or credentials. While some advisors are naturally proficient at nailing initial meetings with prospects, there are many easy ways advisors—even the best—can tank first appointments. Such as:
You Are Too Eager To Sell
One of the easiest ways to ruin a first appointment is to sell right away or sell too hard. First appointments are really about getting to know each other and focusing on products will make you more of a salesperson, rather than a financial professional. Instead of focusing on products, focus on solutions and results. Products are just tools that solve problems.
You Talk About Yourself Too Much
It’s good to build rapport and explain your background/qualifications, but going on about yourself will make you seem egotistical, narcissistic, and take away time that your prospect can use to voice their specific concerns.
You Don’t Engage The Consumer
Even with a two-way conversation, it’s possible for you to not engage with your consumer properly. Ask them questions and relate information back to their specific goals or vision for retirement.
You Don’t Give The Consumer Time To Process Information
In the course of the appointment, you may delve into complex financial topics or discuss important options. Give the consumer time to process this information and ask clarifying questions. Guide them through their options and help them piece together for themselves the ideal solution.
You Don’t Ask Probing Questions
There may be other factors outside of a fact-finder sheet that determine if a product or solution is appropriate. Ask probing questions to get a better sense of your prospect and the full picture of their unique situation.
You Ignore Key Details And Goals
The prospect will likely outline their needs and retirement goals. Pay attention to this information. Discussing solutions that ignore these goals will alienate the consumer, leaving them with an impression that you aren’t listening.
You Don’t Take Notes
Taking notes throughout the appointment not only helps you keep track of important details, it also demonstrates your care and professionalism to the consumer.
You Fail To Demonstrate Empathy
One of that main reasons people seek financial advisors, over say, a robo-advisor, is the sense of care and connection they get working with a real human being. This really comes down to being an empathetic professional, meaning that you demonstrate your awareness of how important the consumer’s goals are. Being able to read and respond to emotions, such as confusion, fear, and frustration, is very helpful as you work through the appointment. Remember that for most consumers money is only as good as the security and protection it provides. You may also deal with consumers who recently lost spouses or parents.
You Over Explain
Key financial concepts and solutions can require detailed explanations. However, using too much technical jargon or bringing in unnecessary information outside the topic at hand can overwhelm the consumer.
You Under Explain
On the other hand, not providing a clear, full explanation of a process or product inhibits the consumer’s ability to see how it might be appropriate for them.
You Are Boring
Financial services involve numbers, processes, and details that may not be the most exciting, even if they serve to illustrate exactly what the consumer needs. Most people don’t care about the internal mechanisms or economic theory behind a solution; they care about a secure retirement. So what is exciting or compelling to you, a person who lives and breathes in the financial world, may not be to the consumer. Always bring solutions to the consumer’s level and make it come to life through relatable metaphors. Break up long instances of speech with questions or checks for knowledge. Use visuals.
You Dominate The Conversation
While you are the expert and will likely have a lot to say regarding a consumer’s situation, dominating the conversation makes the consumer feel invalidated. Allow your consumer time to interject. Make them feel comfortable to ask questions.
Your Lose Control Of The Session
You certainly shouldn’t dominate the conversation, but you should also not lose control of the session by letting a prospect go on and on. Keep the conversation focused on a specific need or goal. This goal, may involve many individual concerns or considerations, but having an ultimate goal that they all move toward can help keep the session focused and help you maintain control over the appointment.
Your Explanations And Solutions Are All Over The Place
Your explanations and solutions should move in a structured manner. Approaching solutions from all angles at once causes the consumer to withdraw.
You Don’t Relate Information Back To The Needs or Goals
What does your prospect ultimately need or want? A secure retirement? Upside potential? College funding? All three? Every solution is going to involve detailed processes and specific considerations. Bring your prospect in closer by relating the solution back to their goal. For example, after explaining an overfunding IUL strategy, say, “This allows you to retire safely and send little Jenna to college.”
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