The question was: What are some of the ‘people’ challenges you’ve faced when conducting annuity seminars, and how do you deal with them? The answer is: I’ve been doing 2-4 seminars a month for the last several years. Here’s a run-down on some of the things to look out for and how to handle them: 1. Plate-lickers: No matter how well you “scrub” your mailing list, and check out the folks that sign-up to come to your seminar, you will always get some that are coming just to eat. There’s nothing you can do about it. Don’t get mad; it is just part of the business. The best strategy is to thank them for coming and be hospitable. Who knows…maybe they’ll say something nice about you to someone who could actually use your services. Besides, today’s plate-licker might be tomorrow’s client. I have had some people come a couple of times before deciding to meet with me and eventually becoming clients. Sometimes it is hard to tell a true plate-licker from a skeptical, but good, prospect. 2. Grand-standers: Some people are just plain jerks. They answer rhetorical questions and enjoy trying to disrupt your seminar. Sad but true. The best strategy is to follow this simple formula: acknowledge, address, validate, and move on. Don’t try to argue with someone like this, just acknowledge them; make them feel important; tell them that the answer to the question often depends on each person’s particular circumstance, and then shift your focus back to the rest of the audience. Sometimes husbands, especially do-it-yourselfers, are pushed into coming to the seminar by their wives. They resent that their wives don’t appreciate what they do, and don’t like the fact that you actually know something, or might have a different strategy or approach. They are usually taking way too much risk and it is hard to tell them otherwise. Again, the best strategy is to advise the audience that each person’s situation has a strong influence on what is appropriate. Don’t let them box you in. After all, that’s what the complimentary consultation is for…to talk about their situation. The good news is that this type of person usually will not sign up to come in to see you and further waste your time. 3. “I’ll think about it” people: Every attendee or couple should be turning in a follow-up form so you know who wants to come in for a meeting. Don’t accept “I’ll think about it” or “I’ll keep your card and I might call you in the future.” Pardon me? When I make the offer for seminar attendees to come in to meet with me for a complimentary consultation, they get 3 choices: say “yes” and circle the best date/time to come in from a pre-printed list of choices; say “yes” and give me a week they would like to come in so my office can call to schedule; or say “no.” The first 2 choices are simple enough, and if they don’t want one of those, the default is “no.” That’s the take-away method: I don’t leave things open-ended. If they can’t commit to a date and time, or a week they think they can come in, I tell them, “let’s just mark ‘no’ on the form.” I expect respect. I’m not at anyone’s beck-and-call. You’ve got to set the tone of your relationship with prospects and clients from the beginning, or they’ll walk all over you. 4. Trouble-makers. Never lose your cool. No matter how difficult a seminar attendee becomes, never, ever lose your temper. Remember, if your doing seminars right, you look successful, you’re dressed well and the place is nice. Some people are jealous because life has dealt them a bad hand (of course, it’s not their fault) so they take it out on you. Just be patient and stay in control. Respond to rudeness with kindness and they’ll usually stop. Apologize even when it isn’t your fault. For example, when a group of 4 arrives 10 minutes after your start time and all you have left are 2 seats over here and 2 seats over there, apologize profusely or have your assistant do the same. Don’t tell them they’re idiots for coming late; tell them you’re sorry and get on with your show. A mad attendee can only hurt you by infecting the table with their nastiness. Take someone off to the side or outside if you have to, but remain calm and apologetic. The bottom line when dealing with the “people” part of doing seminars is to remember that you’re looking for prospects who will place value on your time and appreciate your help. Be patient. It is worth the effort. David D. Holland
CEO and Personal Producer
Retiree Adviser Marketing Corporation
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