You’ve just finished a proposal and from your perspective – you’ve nailed it!  But when you ask the prospect to move forward, their next words crush your spirit. The prospect mumbles, “Let me think about it.”  

So, how should financial advisors respond?

Responding as the Salesman

Old-school sales training would NOT let you accept such a non-committal answer. In the old world, you would approach this response by:

1.     Challenging the prospect with questions like, “On a scale of 1-10 how serious are you about [insert benefit of solution].” This challenging approach can quickly become adversarial in nature and is not something we recommend.

2.     Asking more probing questions like, “What in particular do you need to think about?” or “What is causing you to hesitate?”  This old-school tactic is designed to uncover the prospect’s hidden objection, but you can easily come across as pushy . 

3.     Telling the prospect from the beginning that there are no “maybes.”  You set the stage early on that the prospect is either moving forward today, or not.  This might work if you are selling door-to-door encyclopedias, but not for high-level financial services.

While these approaches work on some personalities, most of the time the prospect is left not feeling good about the experience.

Responding as the Consultant

You’re not an old-school pushy salesman; you’re a high-level financial consultant who is trying to find the best solution for your prospect’s needs. 

Consider these points when responding:

1.     Embrace their non-committal response.  We heard an excellent piece from sales experts Bill Caskey and Brian Neale on this topic and we couldn’t agree more.  This is huge! You don’t want to be seen as pushy – period.  Disarm your prospect by validating their concerns and need for reflection time. Agree with them and remove all pressure from the scenario. They will feel more relaxed, understood, and your positioning and credibility is strengthened.

Example:  “That’s always a good idea. There is no rush on our end. From our conversations, I feel like we can add value, and it’s important that you feel the same way. Let’s schedule a follow up meeting so we can address any additional questions that arise.”

2.     Use Reverse Psychology.  If you come across as though you really need this business, your prospect will detect it. Instead, use reverse psychology. The prospect should feel like you require them to be fully committed before moving forward – this is a mutual relationship.

Example: “Absolutely.  You should definitely put some thought behind this – it’s an important decision. We will do the same. We have long-term relationships with our clients and we have to be certain we can work well together. When would you like us to circle back?”

The goal of the consultative approach is to keep the process moving, to allow it to flow – not push the immediate sale. You will notice at the end of each example we mini-close for the next meeting – there is always a next step. Try it next time you are in this scenario. You will feel more confident in your response and your prospect will be attracted to that.

Stephen Boswell and Kevin Nichols are thought-leaders and coaches with The Oechsli Institute, a firm that specializes in research and training for the financial services industry.  @StephenBoswell  @KevinANichols  www.oechsli.com