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avoiding objections

Put Referrals on Your Agenda

A few years ago, I presented a teleseminar for advisors throughout the U.S. on referrals.

During the live Q and A, Paul, an advisor in the Midwest, expressed frustration with his efforts to grow his practice by asking for introductions.

“I ask my clients about people they know who could use my help,” he told us, “But it feels awkward, and then my clients get all awkward and put me off.”

“Who gets awkward first?” I asked him.

“Well, I guess I do,” was his response, “But it’s because I know that they’re going to be uncomfortable.”

“Did it occur to you that maybe they get uncomfortable because you’re awkward, and your discomfort actually triggers theirs?” I asked.

“I never considered that,” he admitted.

We then went through 3 Steps Paul could use to take the discomfort out of the act of asking for referrals:

1. Start your client meetings by giving your clients (verbally or in writing) an agenda, that includes as the final item a discussion about friends, associates, and family members you might be able to help.  Don’t surprise a client with a sudden request at the end of an appointment to talk about this important subject.  If a client is going to be uncomfortable with this agenda item, let him or her tell you right at the beginning, and spend a few minutes either then or at the end discussing why this item makes him/her uncomfortable.


…The last thing I’d like to talk about this morning is some of the people in your life who you would want to have my help.  I’d much rather be working with someone you want me to work with than someone whose name I took off a list somewhere.  We’ll talk about some of the people you have in mind, and, if we decide it makes sense, we’ll figure out the most comfortable way for us to get in contact…

2. Always ask about the value you’ve given them—either on that particular appointment, or in your professional relationship over time.  Ask him what he got out of your meeting, what he learned, and what he will get or has gotten out of his relationship with you.  Ask him to tell you something specific that he found particularly helpful.  Then utter the magic question: “What else?”  Keep getting feedback until he can’t think of anything else, and then direct him to the ideas that you wanted him to find helpful, and ask if he did.

Did you find our discussion this morning helpful?…Was there one specific idea that you found particularly useful?…What else?…What else?…How about when I explained…

3. Now, you can ask them about people they know who could be helped in the same way.  Remind her that this was one of your agenda items and ask who came to mind.

Mary, I’m glad you found the work we did here today so helpful.  The last thing I promised you we’d do this morning is discuss some of the people you care about who might want the same kind of help, and decide whether it would make sense to arrange an introduction—and how we would go about that.  Who is the first person who came to mind?

Speak with confidence, I told the group. If you don’t feel confident, act as if you do.  Paul admitted that part of his problem was that he had not practiced being firm, clear, and self-assured when he brought up the subject of referrals…and practice is essential.

If you want to attract more clients, put talking about the people in your clients’ lives on your appointment agenda and get it out into the open, right up front.  Act assuredly, and keep REACHING…


SERVE, and Grow Rich

My friend and colleague, coach and author Steve Chandler, recently wrote this:

“Most people try to move toward wealth in embarrassing, clumsy ways.  They have cynicism programmed into them from an early age.  So they want a course called Manipulate and Grow Rich, or Network and Grow Rich or Win People Over and Grow Rich.”

“They see companies like Apple, Amazon, Nordstrom, Whole Foods, Southwest Airlines, and Google, and they think ‘I need a big, clever idea like that!’ or ‘I need diabolically opportunistic branding and positioning!’  When that doesn’t work, then they think it’s time to suck up to powerful people…polish some apples and lick some boots!  Why?  Because it’s Who You Know that makes you rich!”

Yet all the while, there is a spirit that runs through all radical wealth creation…and we’ll keep it simple by calling it service.  All the individuals and companies I have worked with in the past 30 years revealed to me this underlying truth: wealth comes from profound service.”

If you’re working on your Business Plan for 2014, make sure it includes serving your clients profoundly.  If it does, this will be a great year for you.

To get specific, here are a few of Steve’s (and my) tips:

1.  Stop Pleasing and Start ServingAs children, we are conditioned to please.  “Were you a good girl, today?” Daddy asked, and what he meant was: Were you sweet, passive, obedient and not too vocal about your opinions?  Never did we hear him ask: “Were you bold and powerful?”  Or, “Were you courageous?”

Adults were the people with the money and power.  If we pleased them, we’d get that ice cream or that allowance.  As a result, too many of us learned to default to pleasing.  We want our clients to think we’ve been a good little boy or girl, so if we think there will be resistance to what we believe serves them best, we choose what will please them instead of what we believe they should do or have.

If we served instead pleasing, we would astonish our clients, instead of simply being “a nice guy”.  We would be making a real difference in another person’s life.

2.  Create Agreements, Not Expectations.  We become anxious because a client or prospect hasn’t done what we think they “should have” done.  Expectations belong in the recycle bin, along with ideas like a “no” answer being a rejection.  To fully serve and grow rich, you don’t need those anymore.  In fact, they will slow you down and give you a life of disappointment—even causing nagging and persistent feelings of betrayal.

If you want a client to do something, create an agreement.  Agreements serve because they are creative collaborations that honor both people.  They are like a co-written song.  Expectations, on the other hand, live and grow in us like cancer.  Nothing good can come from them.

3.  Don’t tell a client she’s wrong.  Proving that your client’s or prospect’s view or understanding about the world is wrong—no matter how ridiculous her opinion might be—is not serving.

Listen for the value in what she is saying before you respond.  Recognize the merit, and acknowledge that you see it.  Agree with the “objection” rather than trying to overcome it with a humiliating argument.  Instead, agree with her, and find a way to “reframe” how she’s seeing it.

“I understand that you don’t believe in life insurance, and if I saw it the way you’ve explained you do, I wouldn’t believe in it either.  What I do believe in is making sure my family has money at the most critical time that I won’t be able to help.  If we didn’t call it ‘life insurance’, wouldn’t that be something you’d want your family to have?”

Make 2014 the year of profound service, and it’s bound to be your best.  In the meantime, keep REACHING…


Small Talk, BIG SALES: Lessons from a Master Moneymaker

Mehdi Fakharzadeh is one of the most successful insurance sales agents in history.  At 92, he is still taking on and servicing clients.

Mehdi achieved his success despite starting out with a severely limited grasp of the English language and American customs.  Now, at the top of his industry, he is famous throughout the world—with a following in over forty countries.  A Chinese admirer changed his own first name to Mehdi, and at least one other inspired insurance agent gave that name to his son.

Individual Coaching

At an Insurance Pro Shop seminar a few years ago, I had the honor of being asked to speak alongside Mehdi and the renowned publicist Wally Cato.  Here are some of the Lessons I learned from Master Mehdi that day:

1. Doing the right thing for your clients results in more business and referrals.  Mehdi does not attribute his success to any skill of his own—he believes it is his karmic reward for giving what he can to everyone he comes into contact with.  His belief in this regard, and how it humbles him, shines through him as he speaks.

2. Love what you doMehdi told his audience that selling insurance is his hobby.  He is up at 4 a.m. eager to start his day and doesn’t stop until his wife calls him to tell him to come home for dinner.

3. Be prepared to give them what they ask for, but always show them what you believe they should have.  Mehdi talked about how he increases the size of his sales, and helps clients at the same time, by presenting insurance policies at signing time for amounts greater than what he had previously discussed with them.

“They always try to buy less than they should,” he told his audience. “I present to them what they really should have, and often, they agree when they see it.”

4. Make them clients first.  What do you do when a client doesn’t want what you believe is right for him?” a workshop attendee asked.  “I give him what he does want, of course,” was Mehdi’s reply.  But he continued:

“I wait two or three years [until we have a good relationship and my client trusts me],” he explained, “And then I show him a chart that has on the left side what he bought, and on the right side, what I believed was right for him.  I ask him which plan looks better now…and he always points to the one on the right.”

None of this can happen, Mehdi told his audience, unless the person in question becomes a client first.

5. Never give up!  A consistent theme in everything Mehdi spoke about was his persistence“Whenever there is a problem,” he told his audience, “I sit down and create a solution.  There’s always a solution.”

6. Talk “Nonsense”.  That’s what Mehdi calls his delightful way of engaging people in conversation.

“If I’m going up in an elevator and I push ‘4’, and the other man pushes ‘8’, I say, ‘You must be twice as good as me’.  When he asks me why I say that, I tell him that 8 is twice as good as 4.”

Mehdi reminded his audience that day that it makes people feel good when you’re having fun.  As further proof that Mehdi walks his talk, he invited me to spend an afternoon with him at his office to pick his brain, and bought us lunch at his favorite Chinese restaurant—asking nothing in return.

Give first, talk small, and think big—and contact me for help with doing the right thing.  Love what you do, and keep REACHING…


Client Retention: They Changed Their Minds!!!

After two visits—a total of six hours—advisor Marianne had gotten an enthusiastic “thumbs up” from her new “almost clients”—a young professional couple with small children—to prepare a financial plan for them.  The plan would specifically include some much-needed life insurance.  There was no doubt the mission was going forward!


But a few days later, just before Marianne’s scheduled return with her specific proposal, the couple called to tell her they had decided to hold off on doing anything.

“I needed that sale,” Marianne complained to me during our coaching session.

“And that’s probably why you lost it,” I responded.

Our need is the ugliest thing we can show prospective clients.  If they believe that your need to make money is more important than your delivery of the service they would be hiring you to do, they’ll back away.  Retaining you or buying what you have to offer has to be their idea, not yours.

Even when—especially when—you need the “yes”, make sure that your prospective clients sense only your devotion to bringing them the best and most appropriate service.

Blake, an attorney in Michigan, wrote me last week about his problem in getting prospective clients to engage his services.

“I find out what their situation is,” he writes, “and then I explain very carefully what I’ll be doing for them.”

“Then they ask about price.  I tell them my hourly rate, which is competitive, but they say they want to think about it…and then, I don’t hear from them again.”

Professionals like Blake often don’t spend enough time developing a relationship with their clients, customers, or patients.  They know their work.  They know how to diagnose problems, and they know what the most likely solutions are.  But they don’t know what their prospective clients really need: someone to hear them out; sympathy, empathy, and validation.

Here are some suggestions that might help you “close” more clients:

1. Ask more and better questions.  “Situational” questions are essential for you in order to enable you to do your work, but they have relatively low value to a prospective client who already knows his or her own situation.

How does the situation make him or her feel?  Why does he/she feel that way?  What result would this person like to get from working with you?  How will that make him/her feel better?

These kinds of questions don’t necessarily add any information to your business stats, but they help you to create a bond with your new client.

2. Find out if they’re committed to change before you talk about fees.  Ask if she’s receiving value from the discussion and if she has any questions for you.  Ask if she’d be interested in working with someone who could alter her status quo.

3. Find out what is causing them to hesitate.  If he says, “Let me think about it,” find out what he agrees with and narrow down what his concerns are.  Does he have reservations about your abilities?  Is he looking for a better price?  It’s okay—and important—to ask these questions.

If you want more clients to say “yes” and stick to it, start by making sure you spend the time to ask compelling questions, and base the solution you offer directly on their answers.  Whether it’s in asking for the sale or asking for introductions, make it about themnot about your need.

If you want help learning better ways to ensure that prospective clients become actual clients, contact me.  In the meantime, let them change their minds, and just keep REACHING…


Sales Skills for Financial Professionals: Ask Provocative Questions

To be truly successful at getting clients, your passion for your work must be accompanied by Mastery of Three Skills:

(1) The ability to ask provocative questions
(2) The ability to listen with total focus on your client
(3) The ability to relate compelling stories and metaphors

In this article, I’ll focus on the first of these skills:

1. The ability to ask provocative questions.  If you’ve found that your prospective clients  (we’ll call them “prospects”) are backing away, it is likely that you have made the common mistake of cutting the questioning process short.  You may have jumped to the solution you provide too early.  If you’re like most professionals, before talking about your services, you do ask informational questions—who, what, where, when, how, and why.  While you need this information to understand how you can help your prospects, it is more valuable to you than it is to them.  Your prospects already have this information!  Situational questions are more likely to help you get to the bottom of your prospects’ deeper needs.

Sometimes, your simple informational questions will bring up a relevant concern—maybe even one that a prospect didn’t know he or she had.  Maybe the prospect is already working with someone in your field and is having some problems with that relationship, or with the results he/she is getting.

Well, there they are: problems!  And that’s what we do, isn’t it?  We solve problems.  So, we’re done here, right?  Isn’t it time to move on, and into the solution?

As soon as you identify this little bit of trouble in Paradise, you may want to pounce with your offer of services…but if you do, more often than not, your prospect will start squirming.  Here’s an example of a conversation my client, Lisa, a financial advisor, experienced with a prospect who had already been working with another advisor:

Lisa:  So, you haven’t heard from him in over a year and he didn’t return your call the last time you tried to reach him?  He also hasn’t explained any of these things we’ve been talking about today, right?  It sounds like you’re not getting the service you need from him.  I can promise you that I’ll check in with you once a quarter and I always return calls immediately.  How about we go ahead and transfer your accounts…

Prospect:  You know, actually, I’ve been working with this guy for almost eight years.  I think I should try to talk to him again first and, if he doesn’t return my call, I can get back to you.

One reason this conversation may have ended as it did—with the prospect’s objection—is that the problem Lisa identified is also one that she had to imply.  Your prospects are always weighing whether their need for change is explicit and urgent enough for it to be worth their while to do all the work required to make that change.

When there’s only a vague sense of a problem, the scale tips in favor of leaving things as they are.  To avoid running into a brick wall, you need to move from implied problems to explicit problems.  And you can only get your prospects to see explicit problems by asking more [situational] questions first.

Here’s how Lisa learned to handle her next conversation, after working with me on asking better questions:

Lisa:  So you haven’t heard from him in over a year and he didn’t return your call the last time you tried to reach him?  He also hasn’t explained any of these things we’ve been talking about today, right?  How is this level of service affecting you?

Prospect:  It’s a little annoying that he doesn’t return my calls, but I guess I’m doing okay.

Lisa:  Does it worry you that there’s no one reassuring you about your retirement, or letting you know the status of your accounts?

Prospect: Well, actually, that’s the reason I agreed to sit down with you.  I am concerned that there might be more I should be doing, or that I might need to change my strategy.

Lisa:  And if you try him again, and maybe he responds this time, but doesn’t respond again the next time you have a concern, will that be okay?

Prospect:  Well, no.  I need to feel like someone is watching out for me.  Maybe my account is just too small for him.

Lisa:  Well, how small is it?  What’s at stake here?

Prospect:  I mean, this is my life savings we’re talking about!

Lisa:  Yes, it is.  So, I guess the only question is, does it make more sense for you to wait and see what happens with this guy—or to start working with someone who definitely has availability for you, and does not think your life savings is “no big deal”?

Prospect:  I probably shouldn’t wait around to be disappointed again.  Can you tell me more about how you work?…

To get more clients, ask provocative questions.  And contact me if you’d like to explore how I might be able to help.

Next week, I’ll discuss the second skill for getting clients: the ability to actively listen.  In the meantime, keep REACHING…


“And How Are You Today?”—Yuck!

Call me Crazy (or maybe just call me “Coach”) but when someone rings to try and sell me something, I usually don’t hang up on him.  I listen and respond to his inquiry, and then I make suggestions to him on how to improve his approach.

For most professionals, cold calling for new clients is the strategy of last resort.  Who wants to call someone up to be lied to, cursed at, or hung up on?  Still, many of my clients are in businesses where some cold calling, at some point, is necessary.  And most of the others need to be comfortable on the phone calling referred prospects.

Do people hate to receive calls at home?  Do busy managers and executives hate to be bothered by callers trying to convince them to buy their products?  The answer to both of these questions is yes…but no—at least, not entirely.

“If I were calling you to tell you that you just inherited a million dollars and I needed to arrange for you to pick up the check, and there wasn’t a lie or a catch,” I ask in my workshops, “would you be angry that I interrupted your dinner time?”  “No,” my attendees agree.

“If I were calling you at your place of business with a truly low-cost, truly guaranteed way to make more money, while simultaneously reducing your overall expenses for the future,” I ask, “would you be upset that I got past your ‘gatekeeper’ to reach you?”  “No,” they agree again.

“So, then,” I ask, “what do you and your prospects actually hate?”

The answer usually comes down to “sounding like a telemarketer”, or a “salesman” (or saleswoman).  There are, of course, successful telemarketers who sound natural and comfortable.  But you know the type we’re talking about…

~They mispronounce your name with no apology and no effort to get it right.

~They sound like they’re reading directly from a script.

~They come on strong, forcing a big “salesy” smile through the telephone.

~They try to warm up the call by pausing to say or ask something disingenuous like, “And How Are You Today?” when you know they don’t care about your health or well-being in the slightest.

~They use “salesy” language like, “This is an exclusive offer.”

If part of your work is making calls to people you don’t know, the “telemarketer type” provides you a great guideline for how not to do it.

But here are some suggestions for making a perfectly pleasant call to the ideal client you simply haven’t met yet:

1. Get the name right beforehand; or, apologize and fix it!  If you can’t find out how to pronounce the prospect’s name ahead of time, ask immediately if you got it right.  Apologize and try again.  Continuing to call me “Mr. Skuzzel” won’t ever help your cause.

2. Learn the script and put it aside. Scripts themselves are okay.  Some of the best actors use them.  But you change the channel on a show quickly when the actor sounds like she is reading her lines.  Either learn your script so well that you no longer sound like you’re reading, even if it’s in front of you, or toss it away and keep only an outline with bullet points of the things you want to make sure to say.  It’s not a bad idea to keep this near you, but never just read it to your prospect.

3. Forget about the rule that you should sound “up”.  Coming on too strong—even too positive or bubbly—can be a turnoff.  Don’t be timid, but start gently—and adjust your mood and tone to the person with whom you’re speaking.

4. Don’t do AHAYT.  For most of us, “And How Are You Today?” raises an instant red flag that we’re going to be sorry we took this call, so we better just not.  Say why you’re calling and get to the point right at the outset.  Telemarketers use the “AHAYT” greeting to catch their breaths before jumping into their long scripts—and we “prospects” know it.  Another killer is “actually”, as in “Actually, the reason I’m calling is…”.  Just don’t.

5. Stay away from “salesy language”.  Phrases like “one-time, limited offer” and “I’m going to be in your neighborhood,” are business killers.  You have a much better chance of making a sale or getting an appointment if you avoid trying to make a “pitch”.  Simply describe your products or services and their benefits, and don’t try to clinch a deal with urgent ultimatums.

6. Go for rapport.  Make marketing more fun for you and less painful for your prospects by aiming not for the appointment or sale, but to connect with them—maybe even to engage them in conversations.  While this may, at first glance, seem like the long way to go about it, I promise that it will be much more effective in the long run.

If I can help you get more clients in this (or any other) way, call me your “More Clients Coach”—and first, just call me.  In the meantime, keep REACHING…

Are Your Words Powerful?

Jim is a Senior Sales Manager who oversees a dozen branch offices for a financial services company.  Each office has a Branch Manager who oversees 10-20 advisors.

Last week, Jim told me how he had asked each of his managers to bring certain advisors of theirs to a meeting he thought would benefit them—and how several of them didn’t bring the people he had requested.  This was only one example out of hundreds wherein the Branch Mangers didn’t do what Jim told them to do.

“I don’t get it,” Jim complained to me.  “I have to tell my managers to do something over and over and then they still don’t do it.  If my boss asked me to do something,” he continued, “I would just do it.”

“It’s like they accepted their advisors’ excuses and let them off the hook,” he explained, “Instead of telling them that they were required to come.”

“It sounds like your managers may have used some weak words when they asked their advisors to come to the meeting,” I said to Jim.  “They didn’t make it mandatory.”

“Exactly,” he exclaimed.

“Now, go over with me how you asked your managers to invite them,” I instructed.

“I told them how great the speaker at this meeting was going to be and suggested that they really should have these particular advisors there with them,” he lamented.

It was clear that Jim had also used weak words when he “told” his managers to bring their advisors.  He wanted specific attendances to be required, but he used words such as “really should” and “suggest”—misleading his managers into believing that it might be optional.  Powerful words, such as “I want them there” or “make sure they are there” would have accurately conveyed what Jim expected to have happen.

Why, then, did Jim choose weak words for something he wanted his managers to do?  As he and I discussed it, we discovered a pattern.  Wanting to be liked, Jim learned early on to “sugarcoat” his demands so that no one would feel he was coming on too strongly.  This worked whenever he was seeking input from his managers, but not when he had made a decision for them and wanted them to take action.

If you’re an advisor yourself, are you using weak words with your clients, just so that you can be liked?  Or are you serving them by clearly and concretely telling them what would be best?

You can’t make everyone like you, but most people will like you more if you actually say what you mean.  There are nice ways to go about it, but when you want something to happen—you view it as necessary—make sure you use powerful words when you ask for it to be done.

If you’d like some help getting your point across, it’s mandatory that you contact me and tell me what you need.  Speak powerfully, and keep REACHING…


Let Me Think About It

“When you don’t know what to do next in the process of trying to get a prospective client to hire you,” I told a group of professionals recently, do what you do best: ask a question.”

A hand went up.  Any question?” asked Ben, a very young-looking financial advisor.

“That was a good question,” I replied, and the group chuckled.

Then, an experienced litigation attorney, Natalie, asked me specifically about what to do when you’ve explained everything to a prospect and you hear those dreaded words—“Let me think about it…”.

“Well, what do you do now when someone says that to you?” I asked Natalie.

“My usual response,” she replied, “is something like, ‘Sure, take your time. When do you want me to check back with you?'”  “But,” Natalie complained, “once they leave, they usually don’t respond to my calls, and I’ve lost them.”

“Let me think about it” is a statement that can mean anything:??”I’m not sure about your approach.”?”You haven’t convinced me that your firm is the best one to handle this problem.”?”I’m not happy with your fees and costs.”?”Maybe if ignore my problem, it will just go away.”

As a result, you can’t do much with the statement unless you understand what it means to the person who spoke it.  A good response here, once again, involves questions.  So, it might look something like this:

Great!  This is an important decision and you should definitely think about it.  Let me see if I can help you, though:

Are you unsure about the approach I explained?  Do you think there might be a better solution??Are you not convinced that we’re the right firm to handle your needs??Is there any issue with the fees we discussed??Is there someone else you need to involve in the decision-making process?  Do you agree that you need to start taking care of this right away?

“Your questions will eliminate the non-issues one-by-one, and you’ll find out exactly what your prospect needs to think about,” I told the group.  “Then, you can ask more questions about whatever his particular concern happens to be and make sure you’ve satisfied him—if satisfying him is at all possible.”

“At that point, you can ask him again if he wants to get started,” I concluded.  “Does that answer your question, Natalie?”

“I don’t know,” she replied, “let me think about it.”

I can help you get more clients and feel more motivated, but you need to reach out and ask.  Start with good questions, and keep REACHING…


A few years ago, my fellow coach, Rich Litvin, decided to try speed dating.  About a month after his first experience, he went to a second speed-dating event, where he ran into another guy who he recognized from the first event.

“Did you get many dates from the first one?” the man asked him.

“Three,” Rich replied.

“Oh!” the man exclaimed.  “Well, how many women’s names did you select on the list?”

“Three”, Rich replied.  “Why?  How many dates did you get?”

“Not a single one,” the man admitted with a scowl.

“Well, how many women’s names did you check off on the list?” Rich asked him.

“ALL OF THEM!” the man replied, his scowl turning into a look of deep frustration.

“Needy is creepy,” coach and author Steve Chandler tells his clients when they are baffled by why they are not getting more appointments.

As in the speed-dating example, if you are too eager, a prospective client will get the sense that he or she is just one more person you’re trying to sell something to—and nobody who senses that is going to accept your request for a “date”.

I like to say that your need—for an appointment, for a sale, or for a referral—is the ugliest thing you can show a client.  (A wise-guy branch manager I know once supplemented that statement by saying, “Yeah, that, or a butt crack.”)

You may be desperate for an appointment or a sale, but prospective clients all have their internal receivers tuned into station WII-FM (What’s In It For Me).  They won’t start working with you because you need a client.  They’ll work with you because they need something that you might be able to give them.

If you want more appointments, you need to stop looking—and acting—as if just ANYONE will do.  Here are some suggestions that will help you develop the kind of targeted laser focus you really need to get more (and better) clients:

1. Get clear on whom you’d like to serve, what they need that you can offer, and what result they’ll get from working with you.  The speed-dater in Rich’s story was interested in EVERY woman who attended the event, and as a result, NONE of them were interested in him.  Prospects are no different; everyone wants to feel special.

2. Stop talking about you and what you do and focus on learning about others.  When you are introduced to someone or meet her at some event, do as Dale Carnegie would have advised: Be impressed, not impressive.

3. Target people who are ideal clients and invite them to talk with you.  If you’re clear about whom you want to work with, you may already know of individuals who could be great prospects.  Find out their information and contact them directly, or through your existing clients or professional network.

4. Don’t call a prospect unless you’ve already made an effort to learn something about him.  While I view cold calling as a last resort for most professionals, even if your calls tend to be “warm”, you need to make sure you’ve found out about the person you’re dialing before you pick up the phone.  Use Google, LinkedIn, and Facebook, and use the people you know already to help you learn about your prospects before you reach out to them.

5. Most importantly, SERVE, don’t SELL.  If there’s something you believe you can do to help a prospect, offer it with passion.  If not, be honest, and let her walk away—or, better still, you do the walking, and keep on looking for a better fit.

I help advisors who have had some success—but feel stuck in a rut—grab onto the prizes that seem just beyond their grasp.  If you think I can help you, find the courage to contact me.  In the meantime, be selective, but keep REACHING…

Handling Objections: Give Up the Need to Be RIGHT

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Have you ever been aggravated trying to prove to some “nitwit” prospect that his objection to your offer makes no sense—so aggravated, in fact, that you ended up in an argument with him and, of course, ended all possibilities of ever making him a client?

Why was it so important for you to be right?

When she was little, my daughter Madi used to argue with me constantly.

“No, Daddy, you’re wrong!  My teacher told me…”

No matter how misguided she was, she expended exhausting amounts of energy insisting that she was right.  I tried to teach her to say, “Maybe you’re right, Daddy, and maybe you’re wrong,” and then follow up with something like, “Let’s see if we can find out”—but it seldom worked.

Then, one day, I just decided to practice what I was preaching with her.  I stopped trying to be right.

When she insisted that her misinformation was correct, I responded with, “I never knew that!” or, “I always thought it was the other the way around, but I guess I was wrong.”  The result?  No more arguments, and a lot more peace.

Yesterday, I watched a friendly conversation between two people at a fast food restaurant in a local mall turn into an argument.  The two men had begun to talk about global warming, and one of them was insisting that it was all “a lot of bunk”.

Each man was busy trying to prove that he was right and the other was wrong.  What struck me was how easily the interaction had gone from casual to hostile.  The conversation became so loud and abusive that an employee of the restaurant had to ask them to leave.

Who was right?  What difference did it make if they could not agree?  Arguments don’t happen unless someone needs to prove another wrong.  What if we could let go of this need—especially when dealing with prospective clients?

When your prospect is objecting, even if the objection is absurd, don’t disagree.  You won’t change his mind—and instead, you will alienate him entirely.

Try starting out with something like, “I can see how you might think that…” and then pose a question that might get him thinking further.

“I don’t need any more insurance,” he might say.

You’re probably right,” you can respond—without argument—although it’s obvious to you that he’s grossly underinsured and may be leaving his family in a catastrophic position.  “Can I ask what you’re basing that on?”

“I just know we have enough,” he might reply.

“Well, just in case, would you be open to going through a simple exploration with me to see if you’re missing any coverage you could really use?”

Let go of the need to prove you are right from the get-go.  Your life will be much less stressful, and your business will grow.  But if you can’t yet stand the thought of letting someone who is dead wrong get away with it, the right choice is to contact me for some help with your perspective.  In the meantime, keep REACHING…