Sidney C. Walker
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March 2012

"Tell Your Clients
They Don't Have To Buy..."

by Sidney C. Walker


There are two things potential clients want when it comes to working with a financial advisor. They want to talk about what is of interest to them and they don't want any sales pressure. Both of these requests by potential clients are typically ignored. The conventional sales training teaches us to "pitch and close" on a product or service and apply as much sales pressure as you can create.


The illusion is that the only way to make any money is to get your potential client to focus on a particular product and apply sales pressure in order to get them to write you a check. Of course, this is an approach that was worked for decades but it isn't the only approach that works. In fact, it is far from the most effective approach. But old habits die hard.


If you are a relationship-oriented financial advisor, you need to focus on establishing a relationship of trust and demonstrate that you are on the client's side. Probably the least effective way to accomplish these objectives is to "pitch and close" and apply sales pressure. My experience of over 30 years of coaching says that the opposite is true and works far better.


One of the first things you say to your potential client somewhere in the beginning of the relationship is that you have certain values that you bring to the table. You tell them that your main job is to help them make educated decisions about their finances which includes not doing anything. Your job is NOT to try to talk them into buying a product. Of course, you have many products they can buy, but that is not a requirement for you to be friends and for you to help your new acquaintance make some decisions about their financial future.


What happens when you tell your potential clients they don't have to buy anything, they physically relax before your eyes. The relationship changes from adversarial to a partnership. They feel safer. They feel like they can open up and talk freely. What happens when your potential clients feel like they can talk and discover what they really want to do, they will stumble right into what they will buy first. That should be your objective. Help your potential client figure out what they want to buy first and make them a client. Then you have the rest of your career to help them do what they need to do. And very important, you get paid now.


I have hired many coaches for my own practice over the years. One of my favorite coaches and mentors who knows me well has the habit of starting a challenging conversation with the following: "I have something I want to run by you and you can say no." She gives me permission to say no right up front which makes me more open to whatever wild idea is forthcoming. I appreciate that approach and it almost always works. Rarely, have I actually said no to her ideas. But having the option to say no up front takes away the sales pressure so to speak. I don't feel cornered.


If you tell people they don't have to buy anything, they relax, open up, start talking, start learning and start discovering what they want to buy. I have long observed, if you take away the sales pressure you actually create a void that makes people start looking for things to buy. It sounds outrageous but I have seen it work consistently time and again.


If you are a relationship-oriented financial advisor, you can let go of the idea that you need to "pitch and close" and apply sales pressure. Instead, tell your potential clients that you never want them to do anything that doesn't feel right to them. Tell them this is their program and your job is to help them get exactly what they want. Tell them if there is anything you are looking at together that doesn't feel right to them, we are not going to do it. Make them that promise and see what happens!


How would you react if someone said that to you? It's the only kind of advisor I will consider working with!


In the ancient calendars, spring marked the beginning of the new year. This time of year always feels like a new beginning to me. It's a good time to shake off the old and try something new. Give these ideas a try. You will be pleasantly surprised.


Happy New Year!

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