Breaking a prospect’s apathy is difficult.
Telling someone to invest or think long term is like telling someone to be patient. And telling someone to be patient simply doesn’t work. Instead you need to ‘teach’ prospects what long term investing really means. Use stories and analogies to stir emotions, curb their impatience and give them reasons to invest. Here are five ways you can do that and help prospects get off the fence.
1. Give people a reality check
If you establish that a prospect’s goal is a college education for their children, then get them to consider what life will be like if they don’t have a funding plan in place. If their child is now three years old, this youngster will be starting college in a mere 180 months.
Use the analogy of buying a car: One year at college is the equivalent of buying a new car every year for three years.
There are three ways they can make this happen: They can either put away a lump sum, start a monthly investment plan – or pay out of pocket as they go. It’s unlikely they have a lump sum and ‘pay as you go’ wouldn’t be feasible for most people. In that case the answer’s clear – they need to start an investment plan right away.
2. Create a vision of the future
Once you understand a prospect’s goal get them to envision the future they want. If it’s to have a financially comfortable retirement get them to really think about what life will be like once they’ve achieved this goal.
How will they feel? What hobbies will they take up? How will they relax? Encourage them to make their future so enticing that they become willing to sacrifice immediate satisfaction for the long term.
Get them to picture themselves sitting on the porch of their second home overlooking the lake. Will they feel content and feel they’ve accomplished their life’s goals? Have they managed to give their kids the best education? Can they now travel and give money to charity?
Make their vision come alive by adding color and detail. Make it sensory and visceral. Take them there then guide their behavior so they follow your advice.
3. Cultivate your relationship by telling them a story about yourself
Before they will make the decision to invest with you prospects need to like you, trust you and feel your recommendations are right for them. So, if they’re hesitant perhaps they haven’t decided whether they trust you or not.
Engage them with your ‘who I am story’. Tell them what motivates you, or what’s happened in your life to make you who you are. Let them connect with the ‘real you’ and establish a basis for trust.
4. Create urgency with an analogy
Attach a sense of urgency to the concept of investing by using the driving analogy.
Saving for retirement is like going in a trip: If you need to get to a town sixty miles away in an hour, you’ll have to drive 60 miles per hour. If you delay embarking on that trip by just twenty minutes you’ll have to drive 90 miles per hour (what you’d agree is a suicidal speed). The same thing applies to investing – the longer you delay the process, the riskier it becomes.
5. Explain why now is the right time to invest
Let me tell you a story that captures perfectly the message you want to convey to prospects and clients about the right time to invest.
Chris Shea had been dreaming of owning her own greeting card business since the mid 80’s – she always had in her mind that she would do it someday but it somehow never happened. Then some years down the line when she needed a job her friend asked her why she didn’t follow her dream and start her company.
She argued that she couldn’t – after all, she had a twelve-year-old child to care for. Her friend asked her – “If it’s not the perfect time now, when will be the ideal time? When your child is 20? 30? She thought about this and realized that there’s never a ‘perfect’ time to start.
One part of us knows that if we put our mind to it, there’s nothing we can’t accomplish. But there’s also a small nagging voice holding us back and urging us to keep things small – to stay in the comfort zone. The upshot is she decided to start her card business right then and there – and achieved her success story. The same thing applies to making the decision to invest. Don’t wait for the ‘perfect time’ – start now.
Finally, if you’ve tried your best and used all the tactics at your disposal and prospects still refuse to break their apathy, they’re not ultimately going to be good clients for you. If, despite your best efforts, they refuse to envisage the need to fund their path to retirement, there’s nothing more you can do. It’s time to walk away and search out prospects who will listen and benefit from your advice.
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