“It’s not your job to cure procrastinators. It’s your job to motivate them to implement a financial plan that will meet their goals and make them happy.” I can help.
The Two Obstacles to Moving Forward
In my early financial advisor years, it was a mystery why a prospect would say during a preliminary meeting that they really liked our way of doing business and that they were ready to move ahead just as soon at they did something. Usually, it was something like getting ready to go on vacation and they would move ahead upon return, or they must finish some work or home task that sounded like it involved a lot of time.
I would wait the appropriate amount of time plus a few days and then try to contact them. Nothing. Crickets. Gone dark. Email, text message, then telephone. No response. I assumed they did not want to proceed and I most likely would never know why. But I wanted to know the reason so I could do better next time.
Since many prospects came as a referral from family, friends, work colleagues, neighbors, or even a center of influence, I would call that connection and ask them what happened. Every story seemed a little bit different, but it all boiled down to two issues. They just didn’t trust me, or they didn’t see the value for the price we were asking them to pay.
Addressing the Obstacles
Upon reflection, I realized I was just not a good enough listener who would ask the right questions to overcome these two consistent obstacles and allow the prospect to sell themselves. I needed to better understand prospect expectations and experience and make sure I was hearing the real issues they wanted to convey.
After much reading about prospect procrastination, I realized I needed to alter my closing dialogue to make things less overwhelming. I learned to say, “Let me ask you this question, how do you know we’re a good fit?” and then wait for their response.
“That’s terrific” would be my response. Then I would ask them, “What would you like to do as a first step?” This question would let them break down what seemed for many to be a gargantuan ordeal into a set of tasks, one of which they felt they could accomplish right away. This helped avoid the overwhelming feeling that many prospects and clients experience when pondering financial planning and investing.
You Don’t Have to Sell, Only Communicate
Liking, trusting, and value propositions are important, but asking prospective clients to express the reasons for a good fit, and then articulate the first step they felt they could accomplish led to more immediate signed engagements. I also didn’t have to live with another excuse not to proceed.
Mystery solved. Let the prospect do the selling. Listen after you ask the right questions and provide satisfying responses.
About Jim Ludwick, CFP®
For fee-only financial advisors, a certain percentage of potential clients procrastinate on moving forward. Jim Ludwick coaches prospects off the fence so advisors can close the sale and help more people achieve their financial goals. For more information, visit procrastinationjunction.com/for-advisors.