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6 reasons prospects won't make a decision, and how to overcome it

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Life would be so good if you could identify prospects, learn about them, deliver a proposal and get an answer. Even if they said “no” you would still have closure. You could move on.

Unfortunately, many advisors and prospects get caught in the endless “Let me think about it” loop. Why don’t prospects make decisions?

Let’s ask the audience

In preparing for a recent training seminar, I surveyed and interviewed successful advisors in the field. Six reasons became prevalent in these conversations:

1. Fear:

They are worried about making the wrong decision or specifically, taking an action that will cost them money. If it involves investing, the stock market might be too high right now. If the market is moving in the other direction, they think it will go down further. They may have lost money previously.

Point to make:

They might assume sitting tight is the “safe” choice. If their money is in a bank savings account, that might be true. If it’s already invested in securities, they are subject to market fluctuations on their current holdings. They are making a decision when they choose to sit tight. That decision is them saying their current holdings are a better way forward than making the changes you are suggesting. Do they realize they are doing that?

2. Delaying:

People procrastinate. We put decisions off because this issue isn’t on the front burner. They have more pressing problems. If the doctor told them they have the early symptoms of a serious disease, it’s unlikely they would ignore the advice because they weren’t showing any symptoms.

Point to make:

Because something hasn’t gone wrong yet is not a good reason to take no action. You’ve heard about the fellow who jumped off the Empire State Building and said “So far, so good” as he passed the tenth floor on the way down. Reiterate why you feel the actions you recommend are better than the status quo.

3. Too many alternatives:

Agents and advisors are sometimes scared the prospect won’t like their suggestion, so they include a couple more. Others want to show a sophisticated prospect they are smart, so they present a universe of solutions. Faced with many, some of which they don’t understand or never considered, they choose none.

Point to make:

They asked for your advice. Explain you considered several alternatives as possible solutions. In your opinion, this choice is the one you recommend for the following reasons. They know you did your homework. They can ask about the other solutions if they are really curious. Most people just want to hear your best suggestion.

4. Don’t see your value:

Plenty of younger prospects feel “There’s an app for that” and assume cutting out the middleman and dealing direct will save them money. They don’t feel there’s a pressing need and since they think all products and providers are the same, they will wait until something cheaper comes along.

Point to make:

Insurance and investments are complicated. I once saw a greeting card that asked: “What do hospital gowns and health insurance have in common? You’re a lot less covered than you think you are.” You need a professional to explain differences in coverage, someone who will try and find the product that’s a good match for your specific situation.

5. Other relationship:

They work with another financial professional. It may be a family member. Although they might not be very attentive, they aren’t that bad. Doing business with someone else might involve a confrontation with their current person. Even if it isn’t an issue, they have one dentist, one accountant and one auto mechanic. Why do they need more than one financial advisor?

Point to make:

The book “The Millionaire’s Advisor” by Russ Alan Prince and James Van Bortel (2003) makes the point that the wealthy work with 3+ financial advisors on average. Don’t quote statistics. Mention you expected they worked with someone already. “Successful people usually have multiple financial advisors. You’re obviously successful. How many do you have?” People identify with the word “successful.”

6. Lack of trust:

When the stock market is volatile or the economy isn’t doing well many people want someone to blame. Unfortunately, financial advisors get caught in the crosshairs. You’ve seen the newspaper stories.

Point to make:

In most cases agents and advisors work for a larger firm. It has name recognition, won awards and withstood the test of time. Position the firm then position yourself as the person within the firm that can help bring its resources into their living room. Many people are comfortable with established brands.

People don’t make decisions for lots of reasons. By taking a collaborative, non-confrontational approach, you can help them address the issue, skip the “Let me think about it” phase, and make a choice.

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