Life would be so easy if prospects and clients just made a decision. Say yes and get on with it, or say no and put me out of my misery. Why do they need to drag indecision out so long? That’s another story. Let’s focus on how you can encourage them to give you an answer.
Let’s start with the unspoken, yet obvious truth: It’s easy to get an answer if you are happy with “no.” Yes is more difficult.
Here are 10 scenarios prospects might raise that cause them to hesitate and language you can use to help them get off the fence and into the yes column.
1. I’m concerned about the election. I don’t want to do anything until we know who will be our next president.
The logic: The country is facing different extremes. Both candidates represent different positions. If the “wrong” one gets elected, everything might collapse.
Wrong approach: You want to buy something now to keep your money safe. Who knows what will happen if (the person they don’t want) gets into office.
Better approach: You are concerned a new president might take the country in a different direction. Our founding fathers were smart. Power is split among three branches of government: executive, legislative and judiciary. We have checks and balances in place. However, everyone needs a strong economy in place to deliver prosperity.
Prospects may be looking for signs or turning to friends to help them decide what to do. (Photo: iStock)
2. I’m worried about the economy. I want to know where it’s going.
The logic: A rising tide lifts all boats. The stock market is considered a leading indicator of the economy. They want assurance the economy is back on track.
Wrong approach: No one knows where the economy is going. You know that. Stock market analysts and weather forecasters are the only people who can be consistently wrong and still keep their jobs.
Better approach: Consumer spending represents about 70 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). Are your kids still asking for money to go to the mall? Have you been to a home improvement store or shopping center lately? Was it easy to find a parking space? When you go grocery shopping, have you seen prices going up? Are people still lining up to buy? How do you think the economy is doing?
3. I just want a sign.
The logic: This was big in the Old Testament. Signs and wonders were in great demand.
Wrong approach: They don’t ring a bell when the stock market hits bottom. They don’t ring one at the top either.
Better approach: What would you need to see? The Dow Jones Industrial Average trading over 20,000? Unemployment under 4.5 percent? Oil prices over $60.00 a barrell? (List a few.) How many need to happen at once before you are comfortable investing? Two? Three? Four? Get them to set criteria you can track.
4. Everyone on TV says we are heading for a fall.
The logic: Mass media is powerful. People listen to those talking heads. They are perceived as experts.
Wrong approach: Do these people pay your mortgage? If you take their advice and they are wrong, what happens next?
Better approach: You are listening to opinions, not advice. Real journalism means you hear two sides of a story and draw your own conclusions. Maybe 98 out of 100 economists feel one way, but on TV you likely hear two people taking opposite positions. How can you tell it isn’t advice? Read the disclaimers: “The opinions of the hosts and callers are not the opinions of this station or its advertisers.”
Often clients are looking for reassurance that they are making the right decision. (Photo: iStock)
5. Let me talk with my spouse/friend/Beagle/Siamese.
The logic: I’m not ready to make a decision just yet, but I don’t know what to do.
Wrong approach: Who wears the pants in your family?
Better approach: That’s reasonable. I’m glad to sit down with them and explain it. However, if you prefer to relay the details yourself and answer their questions, I’m fine with that. We just need to set a time for a go or no-go decision, so we can get moving.
6. I’m waiting until interest rates go up.
The logic: Retirement planning would be a lot easier if I could get 8 percent with no risk.
Wrong approach: They aren’t going up again. Get used to it. Or, I have these non-registered developing market debt bonds. (They haven’t even reached emerging market status!) They are backed by the full faith and credit of Somalia.