Sidney C. Walker
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April 2013

"Is There Interest in My Offer?
Is There Chemistry?"

by Sidney C. Walker


I have spent most of my career as a coach helping financial advisors deal with the challenge and stress of prospecting. Back in the old days when I was a life agent, I had plenty of my own issues to deal with as well. I have spent thousands of hours thinking about this subject and I had some recent insights that I want to share with you.

Prospecting is definitely easier for client-controllers. They are actually often the best prospectors because they like the challenge of talking people into things. They are not afraid of conflict and they have thicker skin when it comes to rejection. If you are a relationship builder, talking people into things or getting people interested that are not showing any interest, is not your greatest skill. You don't like conflict in the first place. It doesn't feel right to approach people in a way that you know has the potential of creating conflict.

When we get into sales, we are asked to do something we really don't want to do as relationship builders. We are asked to pound away relentlessly with people on the phone until they give us an appointment. "Get at least five no's" was one of the old saws which I am embarrassed to say is still taught in some circles. A horrible philosophy if you are a relationship-oriented person. Then after you verbally wrestle the prospect into giving you an appointment, you are supposed to try to sell them your product or whatever product they told you to sell. We are also told that this aggressive approach is required to making a living. Most of us assume this to be true and then spend years or decades struggling with prospecting.

As I mentioned before, I have spent a great deal of time unraveling this misperception and let me say emphatically that prospecting doesn't have to be a struggle. It can actually be the most fun and the easiest part of your job. That may sound outrageous to some of you, but it's true. I have seen prospecting in my career go from a totally hated struggle to the easiest part of my job.

Yes, you need to make appointments. No, you don't have to talk people into things to be successful. As a relationship builder, you are actually looking for interest. If there is no interest, you really don't want the appointment (client controllers don't understand this). What I teach my coaching clients is to offer a lot and be hard to say no to. Then pursue the people who show some interest. If they don't show any interest in learning how to do better with their money, you move on.

Here's the insight. We have to offer what we do to people in an inviting way (offer a lot, be hard to no to). What we are offering is not for everyone. We are taught to think that if our product or service is good then it is good for everyone and everyone should want to talk with us about it. Therefore, if we don't make the appointment or the sale we have somehow failed. This is misleading and creates a lot of anxiety for relationship-oriented advisors.

If you are a relationship builder, you can't have a real relationship with people if you are going to try to control and push them to do things. Having a real relationship with a potential client means your goal is to help them discover and get what they want which actually includes them not buying anything if that's what feels right for them (client controllers laugh at this idea).

Therefore, there are actually two things you are looking for when you approach a prospect. One, do they have an interest in learning more about how to maximize what they are doing with their money. Two, are you getting along well enough that you feel there is a potential for a relationship. If I get the feeling that there is a lack of interest in what I am offering or I don't feel like the chemistry is there, I move on to the next call.

Client controllers will never endorse this approach because everyone is a potential client until proven otherwise. As a relationship builder, you have to decide early who is interested in your offer and if you like them enough to consider them as a client.

You have to try this approach and see how you feel about it. For me, every time I eliminate someone as a potential client because of a lack of interest or a lack of chemistry, I get a get a rush of energy and self-esteem that is priceless. My analytical mind is always concerned that I have walked away from potential business. My intuitive mind knows I would have been wasting me time.

It is much easier and a lot more fun to embrace prospecting as a way to find the right clients than to think the goal of prospecting is to try to turn everyone into a client.

Have a productive April,

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