“I already have an advisor”.
There’s that all-too-familiar feeling again. That slight punch in the gut mixed with the unintentional face tension. It’s probably not the first nor the last time you will ever hear an objection like this. Objection handling, just like number crunching, is a fundamental part of our career as financial advisors.
…or is it?
ThinkAdvisor.com had a great article a few years ago that said, “if we do get an objection, I feel like I haven’t done a good job”. The focus around this statement was solely that the system in place should be one that the client experience is simply SO GOOD that there can’t be any objections.
And we’re all about teaching you how to provide that white-glove client experience. Handling objections with grace and ease falls right into our purview. Let’s dive right in, shall we?
Step #1: The Objections
Objection #1: I already have an advisor.
Variations on this could be “I’ve had the work done” or “I have a financial planner.” Like with all objection handling, you want to acknowledge what the prospect has said to you in one form or another, while at the same time adding a value proposition that matches your service. You want to stand out and try to build an understanding on common sense.
“I’m really glad to hear that you are proactive in your financial planning. We pride ourselves on offering a unique set of services, and I’m sure we can agree that no one has a monopoly on good ideas. Perhaps it would benefit you for us to discuss how we might be able to help you specifically”.
Close off with going directly into asking for a specific date and time to discuss it with them.
Objection #2: Call me back in X weeks/months (or a similar deferral).
Identify that their time is valuable and that a brief review (20 minutes or less) of their situation is in their best interest. However, if you really can’t land the appointment (make sure you offer a specific time and date when you do this), offer a specific date to call them back to make the offer again. Make sure to send them a calendar invite as well.
“Before we agree on a date and time for me to call you back, allow me to be persistent for a moment. I find most of my (business owner, professional, executive, etc.) clients are consistently busy, that’s partly why they are so successful. Things don’t slack off much. I’ll be brief, no longer than 20 minutes, unless you extend the meeting because you see value in what we do.”
Objection #3: I’m not interested.
Human approaches work best. Like with #2, validate that their time is valuable and that you will be brief and professional during an introductory review. If you can determine exactly why they’re not interested (this one can often mix with objection #1), then you can better tailor your response. If you can offer testimonial examples in handling this objection, that’s even better!
(Client) felt that way before we met. Yet, once (Client) understood exactly what we did, he/she found our work to be of great benefit. It will take us less than 20 minutes to determine whether or not we can be of benefit to you.
Step #2: The Absolute Must Do’s
Absolute Must #1: Prepare.
There is a rule in the sales world called LAARC – Listen, Acknowledge, Assess, Respond & Confirm, and while this is an excellent approach while you’re in the conversation, the real adventure begins before you even talk to anyone. It’s all in the preparation. The very best thing you can do to ready yourself before making a prospecting call is to prepare for the objections before you even get them.
Make a list of the most common objections you, your team & your mentors have heard throughout their career. These range from the aforementioned, “I already have an advisor”, to any objection surrounding how long the initial meeting/set up will take, to delaying tactics such as “send me something in the mail”. If you know what could be coming down the line, you are less likely to stumble through the response. Practice different methods of conversation, too. Your manner on the phone will be different than a face-to-face meeting. Practice until it’s second nature.
Absolute Must #2: Entice & Educate.
You know the rule – you need 3 seconds to get 30, in order to get 3 minutes and finally a 30 minute face to face appointment. While it is your duty to educate your prospect so they can make the best decisions, they won’t listen to you until you give them a reason to! You need to entice them. You need to say something they’re interested in immediately, otherwise you’re already losing them to someone else.
Tread carefully. A lot of times, objection handling ends up being whomever can strong-arm the other into what they want, but this is the least appealing in terms of building a trusting client-advisor relationship. It might seem counter-intuitive at first, but not focusing so much on the outcome will help conversations flow more organically and with the proper “vibe” than forcing something unnatural to happen just to close for the appointment. The decision will ultimately be up to them, but you want to give them both the tools and the confidence to make it.
Absolute Must #3: Polite, Passionate & Persistent.
Hopefully, it goes without saying…always be polite. The prospect never asked you to call and has no idea that you will be changing their future for the better. Knowing that, be sure you’re smiling & that your voice is cheerful, but not over-the-top. An excellent sales tactic to remember is to fine-tune your mirroring skills.
What does this mean? Not everyone is the same, right? An introvert might be really put off or intimidated by an overly-boisterous approach. On the other hand, a Type A extrovert might be all for it. Reflect your potential client’s conversation style and mannerisms and you’ll not only build trust off the bat, but you won’t send them running for the hills.
You should be passionate about what you can do for the prospect. We don’t recommend sounding like an infomercial, but you better be excited about what you can do for this prospect or they’ll never set an appointment. Be persistent but don’t be a jerk. Don’t create a reason for your client to regret giving you this prospect’s name and number. Alternatively, don’t be a wet noodle, either. We know this is a really fine line to walk sometimes. But you know the saying – it takes as many as 6-7 times of saying no or no thank you before the average prospect will agree to an appointment.
Lastly, this leads us back to our first point…be prepared. If you don’t have a reasonable response to each and every rebuff you get, you’ll rarely land an appointment.
Now…onto the objections themselves. We started with one of the top three objections;
It’s Not Over
Ultimately, don’t get discouraged and start off right. Begin creating that amazing client experience from the first moment, even before they’ve signed a thing and know it’s going to TAKE TIME. You can’t get to know them right away. You won’t be able to get the perfect picture of their goals immediately. Like with any relationship worth having, it’s going to take time and effort to build. Recognize that the purpose of your business is to add value for your client where they don’t already have it (this will help when you get the “I have another advisor” objection).
Hot tip? If you start out with a sense of discovery about your client, and not view them as a mountain to be conquered, you’ll find the “feel” of that discussion to be very different than typical objection-based conversations.
Remember, if you aren’t persistent then on some level you don’t feel you can help – and they’ll pick up on that.
Over the coming weeks, we’re going to be introducing a mini-series that covers objection handling. We know objection handling is a hot topic and wanted to offer as much guidance as possible in terms of navigating more of the popular ones.
It’s one thing to prepare in advance & to have all the possible objections ready with a general script to follow. But what if you’re a new advisor and have no idea what this would even look like, never mind what it would feel like? What are the mental steps you should go through?
Even the most seasoned advisor sometimes stumbles, so we really broke down each step of the objection-handling process in terms of how to react.
Step #3: The How-To Process
Regardless of how excited you are to get going, resist that urge to jump right in when the potential client brings up an objection. Seeming eager is great, but being rude and cutting them off or just appearing too hasty isn’t a great idea. You might not realize it, but interrupting them is technically objecting to them objecting and it may put them on the defensive. Not a great start.
But, just because you’re not speaking doesn’t mean you can’t show interest through your body language.
Lean forward slightly. Tilt your head a bit. Nod thoughtfully and truly be interested in what they’re saying.
Body language is the biggest part of interpersonal communication. Your client could be the most anti-social person in the world, but we’re all programmed to pick up on these subtle cues and they’ll know if you don’t mean it.
Ask Open-Ended Questions
Sales rule 101: ask open ended questions to build rapport. It shows genuine interest and gives you more information to better handle their objections and their future questions.
A note of caution here, though. Don’t give them the third-degree. This is a perfect time to dig out any additional objections they might have. Ask, “do you have any other concerns?”. If they say yes, it gives you the chance to meet any other doubts they have and might even lead to them signing a contract at the end, or at least open the door to another appointment.
Lastly, you might not have to ask any questions at this stage, either. We know, this sounds antithetical to what we just suggested. But play it by ear. If it doesn’t seem natural to ask any questions, then it will appear forced and again, goes back to #1 – don’t force it. Really listen.
This is a no-brainer; think. Show them you are seriously considering their objections. Even though you’ve prepared for this thoroughly, you need to show them that their concerns are of concern to you, too. If you appear too nonchalant about it, it will damage the relationship before it even really begins.
Once you’ve answered their objections and questions, now’s the time to watch them carefully to see if there is any transition in their behavior. This can be really subtle, but one huge sign is how persuasive THEY become next.
Up until now, you’ve been the one doing the persuading and they’ve been rebutting, right? If their communication shifts from rebuttals and concerns to asking you about your fees and appear to be negotiating a little, that means something has gone off in their head that is leaning in your favor. Their walls are down.
Look positive signals like making positive noises (“mmhmm”) or nodding their head in agreement a lot, if they’re asking “usage” questions now and not just objection questions (usage questions are questions that indicate they’re imagining themselves being your client) and, most obviously, asking about timelines. If they’re ready to go forward, they’ll want to know details on when and how long.
Step #4: Master The Close
Some might think the closing is on it’s own, but sometimes other objections come up during closing. Or other times, the closing and objection answer are very closely intertwined.
There are over 50 (yes, 50!) different closing techniques, but not all of them would necessarily work in the advisor world (eg: Customer Care Closing). That being said, we’ll cover the most relevant closing types that can and DO work in our field.
The One, Two, Three Close
The rule of in triplicates works for writing, decor and closings. It’s true. It’s the trilogy of cost in action. There is something odd about how our brain accepts the cluster of three things at once, whether visually or otherwise. It’s closely related to the repetition principle – our brains love pattern and makes us feel familiarity, which in turn breeds trust. Closing is the perfect time to build trust.
You can use the 1, 2, 3 close in a few ways. You can use it while answering an objection (give three answers as opposed to one), you can describe your practice with three descriptors (“our services are effective, efficient & reliable), or offer a set of three services upon the close (or one of them broken into 3 smaller groups).
The Calendar Close
If you’re not quite at the signing stage of your new business relationship, make sure to try and get an appointment in the books to discuss things again. Don’t let the conversation end before both of you have something in your calendar’s. Doing this also subtly puts in your potential client’s psyche that though the close hasn’t quite happened, it’s really just a matter of when since they’re going to speak to you again (it’s known as the assumptive method).
While it’s true that some people might just agree to this to get you off the phone, it still gets them thinking about you when that reminder pops up in their calendar weeks or months later – that alone is worth it.
The Testimonial Close
Using (with their permission of course) other client’s happy experiences with you to try and close a new client can come off super infomercial-like. But, if done properly, can be a very effective way of closing because everyone likes familiarity. There’s nothing more familiar than someone else who was in their position who is now a happy client.
The first thing to note is to not force it. Some advisors have testimonials up on their website, which is great! But you could even go that extra step and have some in beautiful cases or frames on your wall (perhaps by some other trust-building achievements). Don’t be weird about it – just say it plainly. “I have several happy clients who were in your similiar position” or “ X felt just the way as you do now, and he’s been with me for X years” are simple ways of slipping in a testimonial.
The Balance Sheet Close
When in doubt, use the good ol’ pros and cons close. Write it out in a balance sheet format and make the “pro” side bigger, longer and more impressive. The important first step is to start with the cons to “get them out of the way”. It also then sets the tone to answer every single con that might come up in the conversation. It also squeezes out any final objections the client might have. Make sure to give the cons fair consideration, though. Answer them completely.
The Humor Close
We stress caution with this one. If you’re a master of mirroring your client’s behavior, then you’ll know exactly when the humor close is appropriate. Most people enjoy a good laugh and we sign up/buy stuff from people we like. It breaks down walls, shatters tension and builds trust. It creates a more relaxed atmosphere for everyone.
We stress caution, however, because not everyone finds this an acceptable way to close, especially when discussing money. Pick your method that genuinely suits your personality. Are you sarcastic? Weave a little in (but don’t overdo it). Are you goofy? Go for it. Just make sure it’s real. Proceed carefully.
Closing Types To Never Use
As mentioned, there are over 50 ways to close a client and some definitely don’t fit this industry. Here are some that you should never, and we mean never, consider.
Never Use The Embarrassment Close
Why would you start off a relationship by humiliating them or their choices in life? Nope. Never do this.
Never Use The IQ Close
Some professionals like to use this to appeal to a client’s intellect. Thing is this can backfire – and bad. If the person truly is smart, they will probably find this approach patronizing. Don’t bother.
Never Use The Reverse Psychology Close
You’re dealing with adults, not children. This method is inherently condescending.