Close Close
Popular Financial Topics Discover relevant content from across the suite of ALM legal publications From the Industry More content from ThinkAdvisor and select sponsors Investment Advisor Issue Gallery Read digital editions of Investment Advisor Magazine Tax Facts Get clear, current, and reliable answers to pressing tax questions
Luminaries Awards

Life Health > Running Your Business > Selling

What If My Prospect Takes My Information to Another Advisor?

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.

What You Need to Know

  • Prospects don't owe you anything.
  • Some will walk away.
  • The key to keeping them may be to get to know them.

I cannot even count how many times over the years I have been asked this question — ”What if my prospect takes my information to another advisor?” — by the agents and advisors with whom I work. The most likely motive behind the question is a belief that once we provide information to the prospect, then that prospect owes us loyalty if they act on the information.

The premise of the question is a desire to withhold information from a prospective client because a competitor might use it if the prospect is not loyal to us.

It is a valid question and concern and a real-life problem we all face in this business, but the premise is exceptionally flawed. Rather than immediately answering this question, let me ask a question that is much more valid.

Why would a prospect owe us anything?

Making demands, literally or with motives only, starts our relationship with a prospect based on selfishness. Not only is that a terrible way to start a relationship but the prospect will see through our motives as clear as day. In the prospect’s eyes, it will come across as desperation and a lack of concern. No matter how hard we try and hide it, I guarantee you they will see right through us.

Getting someone to buy through a guilt trip is coercion, not sales.

Who has the most to lose, the advisor or the prospect? The money belongs to the prospect, not the advisor. It is their retirement, not ours, and the last thing they should be concerned about is our hurt feelings if they go with another advisor. They have everything to lose, and we only have our time and the cost of a lead, which is never as valuable as their retirement.

Why would any of us feel that our time and the cost of a lead are worth more than the prospect’s money?

A failure to compel is not the prospect’s fault; it is ours. Someone will service the prospect’s money, and the battle for that service is on us and the value proposition that we present.

For an advisor, as I wrote earlier, in The Rabbit Hole of Success, success in this business means helping people find solutions to their problems.

The prospect, of course, is under no obligation. We often say that in our marketing and disclosures, but do we mean it? Our job is to win the confidence of the prospect with compelling purpose of money planning, and that all starts with a comprehensive fact finder. The advisor that gets the client to talk about their money and provide information that can expose problems that need to be solved is most likely to win the right to service the prospect.

Showing product before you have won the prospect’s confidence to receive comprehensive information that exposes problems is like waving a white flag of surrender.

The worst offense of the “guilt trip” sales process comes from product sellers.

Product sellers sell products, not solutions to problems, but somehow they may still feel like the prospect owes them something.

I find it astounding that an advisor can obligate the prospect because they spent time with them, ran an illustration, and handed out a brochure. Under no circumstance would that process obligate the prospect to move hundreds of thousands of dollars to any financial product. Not now, not ever.

Even if our process is based on fact-finding, problem finding, solution selling, and a comprehensive evaluation of a prospect’s financial situation, they still owe us nothing.

We are here to serve and to compel. If we serve and compel enough people, we win, and so will the prospects that become our clients.

Why is this the right way to approach the business?

Responsibility: This puts all the responsibility on us. If the prospect is not compelled, then we failed to compel. That puts the onus on us to become better compelling the prospect through a more effective case design and presentation rather than using the prospect as an excuse for our failure.

Good Mental Health: If our focus is on getting something every time we give something, not only will that never happen, but it will make us miserable. We should give unconditionally to the greatest extent possible.

There Is a Limit: Just because we are giving without the expectation of return does not mean we give perpetually. If we have something of value to offer, then we owe it to ourselves and the other prospects that need our help to move on. When do we move on? That is a judgment call. The more people we have waiting for our help, the less time we have to help people we have failed to compel.

This is the philosophy I have always used, which I believe has allowed me to succeed in this business and have fun in the process. Be a good steward of your time, but do not be selfish with your time by expecting that you will get something in return.

If we approach the financial planning business this way, we will not only enjoy it more, but we will also be more productive. Err on the side of giving “too much.” I promise it will make you feel good about what you do if you have the heart of a servant.


© 2024 ALM Global, LLC, All Rights Reserved. Request academic re-use from All other uses, submit a request to [email protected]. For more information visit Asset & Logo Licensing.