Here’s another installment in our effort to bring time-tested sales, marketing and product knowledge articles to the eyes of new readers
The original version of this article ran on Aug. 4, 2016. In it, Ed McCarthy talked about the art of starting and ending effective sales conversations.
Sometimes clients and prospects get stuck. They agree that your proposal makes sense and would benefit them, but whether it’s for an annuity, insurance product or investment account, they just can’t get to “yes.”
Good closing lines can make the difference in those cases. They let the client see the situation from a different angle and work through their hesitancy, which helps them get unstuck. There are risks with closing lines, though. Many of them have been around for so long that they have become wince-worthy clichés. Use them and prospects might see you as a hard-sell hack. Other lines are so tacky that they border on rude and offensive. Even well-intentioned humor can backfire.
It’s also important to tailor closing lines for the prospect’s generation. Boomers usually don’t mind a direct close so it’s OK to flat out ask for their business. Millennials are different, though. The ABC (Always Be Closing) model turns them off; they prefer the ABH (Always Be Helping) approach. These clients came of age with much greater access to pre-purchase research resources than boomers had. Consequently, they are often well-informed about product features and instead want to learn how a financial product or advisory relationship meets their needs.
Good closing lines
“It’s OK if you decide not to work with me.”
Advisor Darin R. Shebesta, CFP with Jackson/Roskelley Wealth Advisors Inc. in Cave Creek, Arizona, makes this offer to prospects. It sounds like an anti-close but it’s effective from several perspectives. First, it shows that Shebesta is not going to hit them with a hard sell for his services. That realization can make prospects more comfortable and it improves Shebesta’s image as a professional in their eyes. Think about it: When was the last time your doctor tried to sell you something? Second, it reassures prospects that the firm is sufficiently successful that its future doesn’t depend on signing up every person who walks in. “It’s almost like a weight is lifted off their shoulders because they don’t like having to make a difficult decision like this,” says Shebesta. “The majority I have said that to have opted to work with me.”
“Whatever reason you give me for not doing this today will sound pretty ridiculous to your widow.”
Clark Randall, CFP with Financial Enlightenment in Dallas, Texas, uses this blunt line with existing clients. He explains that most of his clients go through an initial financial planning process before he recommends any products and planning first usually eliminates any significant pushback to his recommendations. But when he does make a recommendation for an insurance product, he uses these phrases as a call to action. “If they are backing off long-term care or disability insurance, which is a more likely scenario, I would say, ‘If not this, then what?’” he adds. “We are looking for solutions–don’t mix the two up. The insurance is not the problem; it is the solution.”