Originally published in Advisor Perspectives
Financial procrastinators – those clients or prospects who fail to take your advice or engage your services or do-it-yourselfers who fail to implement your instructions – may only account for 10% of those you encounter. But they can cause 30-40% of the angst you feel on a weekly basis. The emotions experienced by advisors in dealing with procrastinators usually come in states, starting with disappointment, followed by frustration, maybe some anger thrown in, and then finally resignation, meaning it’s time to move on.
As a fee-only advisor for almost 20 years, I’ve experienced my percentage of fail to proceed clients and prospects that resulted in my giving up in exasperation and moving on. As clients, and sometimes prospects, they paid me a reasonable amount of money, answered my questions, and supplied me with information and statements. They nodded their heads with approval at my recommendations, but at the conclusion of a meeting, all too often they respond with the feared sentence, “We’ll have to think about it.”
“We’ll have to think about it” is the number one excuse that accompanies client or prospect procrastination.
I developed a list of 30 excuses I’ve encountered over the years to accompany my 2021 book, Don’t Miss This Road – Financial Independence, Overcoming Procrastination. In that book, my goal was to provide the procrastinating reader (not a financial advisor) with different ways to look at their dilemma of having received advice but not following it, and to use presented strategies/techniques to move ahead towards financial independence.
For advisors, resignation will renew their frustration over the time and effort expended to help the client or prospect achieve their financial goals. In writing Don’t Miss the Road, I wondered: What tools could I develop for these procrastinating folk to recognize the opportunity to help themselves and their families and overcome stagnation? Could I pass these tools along to advisors who might feel the same emotions that I felt, including one of failure?
Converting failures into engaged clients takes patience. This is a skill not easily maintained in today’s fast-paced world that runs on a 24/7 clock. However, that conversion will go to the bottom line in your business.
Here are five techniques that can lead to the conversion of procrastinators:
- Break down implementation into parts or stages so that the entire task does not look so overwhelming.
- Develop an accountability feature using mini “check-ins” once or twice a month.
- Ask them for the “event” that led to their fear of moving ahead (example: my brother-in-law got me into a failed investment). Listen for details that your solution overcomes.
- Ask the “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?” question. Again, listen for details that your solution overcomes, and explain how your solution has a high probability of success based on the experience of many clients who continue to work their plan.
- Have them ask someone who they feel has been successful in their financial life how they overcame their own reluctance to proceed down the path to financial success. (Yes, this is risky, but what do you have to lose at this point?)
Rather than let procrastinators ruin your day and invoke unhealthy emotions, overcome your clients and prospects’ reluctance to move ahead using the skills and techniques I mentioned to win over that last 10%.
After retiring from a 20+ year career as a fee-only advisor, Jim Ludwick helps other financial advisors convert the prospects and clients who are having a difficult time making and implementing financial decisions through coaching, books, and public speaking. For more information visit procrastinationjunction.com.