Being rejected by a prospect does not have to be a total loss. There are many things that can be learned from a prospect who said "no" and a chance you could improve your financial services business.
I recently had an appointment with a couple of prospects that had attended one of my workshops. They are retiring, and had been searching for financial advisors to assist with their retirement income plan. They eventually narrowed their choice down to two. They were considering my firm and an unnamed competitor.
Unfortunately, they had decided to go with the other firm. However, I already knew that before scheduling this visit. Nope, this visit was not a lame last ditch attempt to get them to change their mind. It was a prospect exit interview. It was a learning opportunity for my team. It was an opportunity to learn from the prospects' experiences, and it was worth tens of thousands of dollars in tuition in my opinion.
You Can't Win Them All
Certainly I'm disappointed that they chose to go another direction. The reality is not everyone we think is a fit for our firm will choose us. Many will, but some won’t and those are the facts. However, we can learn a valuable lesson from the ones who won’t move forward if they are willing to share. In order to become better, we must seize the opportunity to request an exit interview. Whether conducted in person or over the phone, an exit interview is worth asking for from prospects whose opinion you value.
These wonderful folks accepted our offer to close things out and to explain why they decided the other firm was a better fit. They graciously gave me the chance to ask questions so that I could learn from their experience with my firm and discover how we stack up against competitors.
The Exit Interview
If you get into this situation you should go into it like this: Have no intention of convincing them to change their mind. Make it clear that you are respectful of their decision. They are doing you a favor by aiding in your growth and development as a firm. Be prepared with candid questions and request that they provide candid answers. Make it known that no ones feelings will be hurt if they provide honest feedback.
Here are some sample questions you may want to ask:
- Why did you decide our firm is not a fit (and the other was)?
- What were the 3 primary factors that contributed to your decision?
- Did we or one of our team members do, or not do something that effected your decision?
- Did we or one of our team members say, or not say something that effected your decision?
- Setting aside that we’re not a fit, in you opinion where’s our greatest opportunity to improve the experience?
What I learned
1. Perception matters
The size and scope of the competing firm greatly contributed to their decision. We have a handful of team members, and the competitor had hundreds, made up of CPAs, attorneys, and financial advisors. Larger doesn’t always mean better, but in the eyes of high net worth prospects, size and bench strength does matter. It is important to surround yourself with a team of professionals, and demonstrate how the team works together.
It’s not all about you. If you don’t have a team approach you will never have a shot with high net worth prospects. Without a team of internal and external members working together on strategies that include avoiding retirement risks, eliminating inefficiencies, as well as mitigating the impact of fees and taxes, you won’t be among the top choices.
3. Clarity creates confidence
You must clearly communicate what will happen when and if the prospect engages with your company. Clearly communicate your company’s processes for achieving the desired outcome using both written words as well as visual graphic representations. A well-organized and clearly communicated written planning process provides clarity and confidence in your firm’s ability to handle their affairs.
4. Take nothing for granted
You know your business. You know the details that may be fuzzy to your prospects. Don’t take them for granted as unimportant. Anticipate questions before they even come up because they might not. It would be nice if your prospect voices every question they may be thinking. In reality, they won’t. The unvoiced, fuzzy areas of your business could be a deal breaker.
5. Brick and Mortar
The most successful advisors have an office. They operate a business, and are not selling financial products out of their trunk. It’s a matter of perception. You may view having an office as a non-negotiable necessity, or you may perceive it to be an unwanted expense to your business. To the high net worth client, a professional place of business means your firm is sustainable and will be around for years to come. It creates confidence that the plan they are formulating with your team will be serviced to and through retirement. Without a roof over your firm's head, your opportunities with high net worth clients will likely fizzle.
Make the Most of Rejection
Not every prospect will give you the courtesy to ask candid questions about their experience and offer truthful answers about why they have not chosen your firm. However, it certainly doesn't hurt to ask, and when the opportunity arises, make sure you make the most of it. Learn from the experience of the prospects that say yes, but arguably more importantly, learn valuable lessons from the prospects that say no. In the end, it will help you become a better financial professional.
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