We’ve probably all had a similar uncomfortable exchange at a social or networking event.
“Hi, I’m Steve. I’m a financial professional.”
“Nice to meet you, Steve. I’m already working with a financial professional.”
So, if you were earnestly trying to land a new client here, what do you say next? You could mention that the shrimp cocktail is delicious and move on. But, “I’m already working with a financial professional” doesn’t necessarily mean you need to change the subject. It’s possible to “get in” and continue the conversation without coming off as pushy.
In fact, one of the best responses is to take a proactive approach and be ready for any objections. Stay one step ahead of your prospect by using these tips.
1. Be proactive
Many people have go-to excuses they use for sales professionals: “I need to talk with my spouse,” or, in this case, “I’m already working with a financial professional.”
What they may be thinking is, “I don’t have time for this,” or, “I don’t want to feel pressured.” So, you may want to address these objections before you even hear them, putting yourself in the driver’s seat as you make a request.
To help start the conversation, you might say something like this:
“I’m not here to steal you away from another professional who’s doing a great job for you. But how about we grab a cup of coffee and just talk through your situation, no strings attached, and I promise not to take longer than 20 minutes? I’ll either confirm you’re in good hands, or I’ll offer some suggestions that might get you better results. Are you open to this?”
2. Turn objections into questions
When you hear, “I’m already working with a financial professional,” you may want to ask which firm that financial professional is with. Assuming you’re familiar with the firm, consider a conversation that may go something like this:
"I’ve heard good things about that firm and think it’s pretty reputable, but would you agree that no single person or firm has a monopoly on all the good ideas?”
“What if I give you an idea that lowers your tax burden or raises your income? Would you consider letting me compete for your business then?"
When you’re respectful of the competition, you’re establishing common ground, and you’re affirming your prospect’s ability to make good choices. If your prospect is currently unimpressed with the firm, you’ll have an opening.
Asking open-ended questions shows you have a genuine interest, builds rapport and may give you more information to better handle future objections.
3. Educate and engage
It’s your duty as a financial professional to educate your customers and prospects to help them make good decisions. Yet, they need a reason to listen to you, especially if they’re already working with someone else. Consider telling them an interesting fact, even if it’s not related to their own financial situation.
“Did you know scammers are now using LinkedIn and other job sites to trick users out of their money and personal information?”1
This interesting, real-world fact includes a financial caution or at least sparks a financial discussion. You can begin by asking them if they’ve been on those sites or received suspicious messages, and follow up with a bit of advice on being cautious of those and other scams.
Even though such an approach may feel counterintuitive, you’re helping the conversation flow naturally by not focusing exclusively on the outcome. Ultimately, the track of the conversation is up to your prospect, as is their decision about what you have to offer. Just remember that the purpose of your services is to add value where your client previously didn’t have any.
4. Ask intriguing questions
Everyone wants to feel like an important and valued client. If you can throw some questions into the mix, you may have a shot.
“What do you like best about how the financial professional you’re working with has helped you address recent volatility?”
Rather than asking if someone likes their financial professional (which only requires a reflexive yes or no answer), this question compels a thoughtful response. Can they come up with one? Such a question may help them consider that their financial professional might not be as solid as they thought. Additionally, many clients still think about immediate returns. This question may get someone thinking: “Is my financial professional staying sharp? Are they paying attention to me?”
“Do you hear from your financial professional as often as you’d like?”
Explain your approach to delivering great service. Maybe mention how, in volatile markets, you make every effort to connect with clients once every three months to review their portfolio. You could always ask, “Does your financial professional return calls and quickly answer your questions?”
“Would you recommend this financial professional to a friend?”
If they would, and have solid reasons, then praise that relationship. If a recommendation doesn't happen, ask, “What keeps you there?” or ,“What areas could be improved?” You’ll likely get more information you can use. When someone tells you why a relationship is NOT working, they’re basically telling you what they want.
“Have you considered using more than one financial professional?”
Most people feel one is enough. After all, they have one dentist, one mechanic, one lawn care service, etc. When they say “no,” you might respond with (as long as it’s true), “Some of my most successful clients have more than one financial professional relationship to get multiple investment perspectives. Perhaps it’s something you should consider.”
5. Overcome human instinct
Most people have a natural instinct to say “no” the first time they’re asked to an appointment. Even the second time, too. Yet, the third time is often the charm, especially with more successful people. These people appreciate passion and perseverance. So, staying strong after two objections — as long as you’re professional — may be positively received.
Yet, if the answer remains “no” after three attempts, it’s time to gracefully exit. Perhaps say, “Things could change over time. Would it be okay if I touched base with you sometime in the future?” Most people won’t object, so follow through on your word and call them in about six months.
Pursuing appointments with potential new clients isn’t easy after hearing, “I’m already working with a financial professional.” Yet, proactive responses, good follow-up questions and a bit of professional and courteous relentlessness can set you apart. Try these and see if your results improve.
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