(This blog can also be found at the FPA Practice Management site: http://practicemanagementblog.onefpa.org/2014/07/03/embracing-objections-for-stronger-relationships/)
An inventory of dire outcomes that people face would certainly include disease, accidents and failed relationships. These outcomes literally change the course of a person’s life.
The past 15 years have taught us that personal financial catastrophes can and do push lives in terribly negative directions. Having experienced such an outcome, a person naturally feels regret not just for the outcome, but especially considering what could have been done to prevent it.
“I should have been smarter.”
“I shouldn’t have been taken in by promises that seemed too good to be true.”
“I should have done more research.”
“I shouldn’t have given away so much control.”
These “should have” and “shouldn’t have” regret statements can become all-consuming. Unlike disease or accidents, a key difference with a financial calamity is a person most often was an active player in forming the circumstances that led to the life-altering outcome. There is real personal accountability in the regret.
Take Leadership: Encourage Objections
Strong relationships have no basis in regret. Given the high distrust of financial services broadly (see the CFA Institute study “Investor Trust Study 2013”), we acknowledge the existence of reasonable skepticism and the need for effective due diligence (see the blog post, “Removing Purchase Obstacles to Valuable Benefits”). This means necessarily that we encourage, not shun objections.
Recently, when a group of practitioners were asked if a prospect meeting with no meaningful objections would be considered a success, they all said “Yes.” In fact, a meeting with no objections illustrates the prospect’s detachment with the practitioner given the ramifications should a bad path result.
Similarly, there’s a strong tendency, following our well-crafted, eloquent sales presentation, to feel a bit put upon, disappointed or defensive when our prospect raises an objection. Let’s lose these feelings now.
An Objection-Handling Process
It’s a pleasure to work with smart, savvy clients, right? Well, clients such as these are prudent and engaged … just the type of people who want to know more and not less; who want depth and not a veneer.
Because many wealth management practitioners find objections difficult, awkward or worrisome, deciding for yourself to be a strong objection handler makes you a more able competitor. Take encouragement that handling objections effectively (a person whose answers advance the sales process and not hinder it) is a skill and not a talent.
Steps to Develop Objection-Handling Skill
- Write out all the objections that you’ve either been asked or could be asked about your service, your business and you as a person and practitioner.
The best objection handlers employ the concept of “healthy paranoia” that anticipates any and all tough questions and prepares competent answers necessary to produce a strong result.
- Rank the objections in your list from those that have high business impact (fees, expertise, etc.) to those with low business impact (credential types, etc.).
- Work on a couple per week and write out answers as you would speak it, not in bullets. You do this for two reasons:
To develop power phrases (such as, “You gain net benefits for the costs incurred.”) that are memorable for you and the prospect.
The words help you avoid saying “Uh” and “Umm” that suggest either a lack of preparation or evasiveness.
- Incorporate stories and analogies to shift from jargon to understanding (a precondition to forming a trusted relationship).
- Practice the answer with those who will give you honest feedback. It’s not just speaking the words, but doing so with confidence, passion and certainty.
- If you know an objection is going to be asked, ensure you drive the answer through all content sources, such has face-to-face meetings, presentations, proposals, the website, etc.
- Should you not win business, get in the habit of having a follow-up meeting with your prospect and identify why you fell short, as these are objections that didn’t have a satisfactory answer.
A New Perspective
An objection, in a benign form, simply works toward better information or understanding; we can say toward certainty. Yes, a question or comment may be stated with elements of judgment or skepticism or be said sternly or nicely, but the question or statement deserves a well-reasoned, patient answer. The prize at the end is greater achievement when the call comes that you’ve been hired, having won over the tough and demanding prospect instead of one who just says “OK” at the start.