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How to Deal with Your Prospect’s Timeline

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Let’s face it. In your career as an advisor, you’re going to run across, hopefully, lots of situations where you’re waiting on a client or a prospect to give you the “thumbs up”. Most of the time, these tend to be big or lucrative scenarios.

A lot of advisors are really challenged in managing their emotional states while this is going on because of the “Let me think about it”, or the “Let me get back to you” sort of thing. Recently, a couple of my clients, we had situations where they had an economically large scenario which was not their norm.

Anytime that you get outside of your norm, the comfort level or the sensitivity can increase. Bottomline is, if you’re doing things and growing and dealing with people, remember that there is a golden rule. That is “Expect the best, but be prepared for the worst”.

Now, this is not negative thinking and not just going into an influence situation where you’re going to give it you’re all. But you’re also going to be conscious with yourself and say, “If I don’t get this deal, if I don’t get the ‘Yes’ right now, what does that mean to me?”.  

Hopefully, there’s never going to be a life or death situation for you. Your career or situation should never put you in a position where one deal matters to your viability. You won’t be in the business that long if that’s the case.

So, let’s talk about how to manage this. First, there’s your timeline. Then your client’s timeline and sometimes, they don’t mesh. Even though you want something done because you have a target, remember, it’s usually rare in our industry or profession that somebody is going to be compelled to do something on a deadline (unless it’s tax related, or a buy-out going on or an offer).

I would say upwards of 80-90% of the cases you’re going to deal with of the time are open timelines. There are no “Musts” here. You have to recognize that and put yourself in their shoes. Remember, your timeline is not their timeline.

You have to be careful on this next one. How many of you in your career, when you’ve got a deal on your board, tried to figure out how much money you’re going to make? And when it doesn’t happen in your timeline or gets delayed, you think that they stole the money from you?

If you do this, you’ve got to do yourself a favor and stop it. You’ll get compensated, don’t sit there and don’t be cocky because it’ll make the situation worse because you will think that you already have the money when you really don’t.

The other thing you’re going to do is figure out how to deploy that money. So, at the moment, you’ll be going down an imaginary trail. What you would want to do is, come back, work with the situation, and don’t get caught up in it.

You need to practice this consciously.  When you’re waiting on a decision, what is that? Let’s talk about that for a second. If you’re in front of the biggest client or prospect you’ve ever worked with, or an insurance case and it looks good, it doesn’t die early.

It goes through the process and you’re in that “are they going to do it or not” zone we all know about. What you have be very aware of is the trigger for most human beings. Emotion. There are 2 types of emotions.

If you’ve been following me you know about these. First are things that we want to experience, success, love, connection, excitement, freedom, enthusiasm. And then there are the emotions we don’t want to feel like rejection, failure, scarcity, and uncertainty.

When you have a deal and it’s not yet done, and depending on how you’re wired, you’re going to have uncertainty. For most people, it can really shut you down. I just had this recently with a client who had the biggest insurance deal of his career. A 6-figure compensation.

He went through the scenario game and he became stuck. He wasn’t able to focus on anything. As soon as that happens, your morning ritual, daily game plan and effectiveness is gone.  And when the phone rings, you won’t know what to think and your heart jumps.

Think about all that emotional volatility you’re going through. When this happens, how effective or focused are you? Chances are, you’re not. This happened to me when I was just starting and I realized later on that I couldn’t be effective if I was worrying about yes’ and no’s.

Stoicism. It’s an art or science wherein you’re taking your emotions and you’re compressing them down to a level where you’re eliminating all that emotional volatility (not to the point where you become a robot). When you become stoic, you stay in a “resourceful state”.

By staying in that state, you’ll be able to make your calls, ask for referrals, basically you can do the business. When you’re un-resourceful, you’ll be all over the place. You won’t be in the game.

Think of it this way. What happens when you don’t get the deal? You get super depressed and you go down the bunker. On the surface, in one scenario, it may not seem like a big deal. But if you extrapolate that in your 20, 30, or 40-year career, you’ll be thinking how much that opportunity cost you.

Remember that there’s the lost opportunity of “No, not right now”. But then, what happens? I’ve seen clients that, when they lose the deal, they’re literally in the mental tank for a weekYou might as well have gone to Tahiti, sink your feet in the ocean and have a cocktail because that’s how effective and productive you are.  

I need you to determine it in advance, so here are the questions. Whenever you’re in an exciting situation, ask yourself. What’s the worst thing that could possibly happen? I consciously ask myself that question when I deal with a new potential client, a corporate situation or anything that has to do with success or failure.

If they say “No”, it means, the timing’s not right and that it may happen in the future so, let’s not burn the bridge. It also means I just don’t get the opportunity. Hopefully it’s not a make or break thing for a lot of you because I don’t help you exist in that way.

You can create the scenario and I’d like you to focus on the negative situations because it’s all in the consequences. As long as it doesn’t really change your world, remember that it’s not life or death and all it means is that you just didn’t get the opportunity this time.

In my 25-year career, I’ve always told myself that I’ll never be in a scenario that will make or break my coaching career. I’ve been in cool, enjoyable, and lucrative scenarios but they’ll never make or break me because I will never allow them to.

If your business model is like feast or famine, I would strongly ask you to reconsider your approach because that it’s not good for anybody. Just remember that. So, how do we reduce uncertainty? Talk to yourself. Stay conscious. Have conversations. And like I said, remember that your timeline is not their timeline. That’s super important.

Now, let’s say you do get the “Yes”. There’ll be a window between getting the “Yes” and getting the money depending on what the deal is. And then they call, or worse, just get an email that says, “Hey, we need to talk.”. At that point, where do most human brains go?  

It goes right – negative and say, “Oh my God they’re going to say no” or “They’re going to back out”. You get this pit in your stomach because now, when is it really done?

Related: Why Advisors Don’t Ask for Referrals

Related: Advisors: How to Get Your Clients and Prospects to Say Yes to You

Not because you get a positive (and as a profession we know this), people don’t always pull out until the 11th hour and in some cases, even if you’ve got the policy delivered, they can still rescind the policy.

A lot of things can go wrong. Again, this is not negative thinking but managing your emotional state. You must do that to be effective as a professional.   

Today, what I really want you to focus on is, to manage your state, your expectations, understand that human beings are creatures of habit but yet unpredictable. Just make sure that you’ll have enough opportunity in your pipeline where there’s not one of them that will cause you a “make or break” scenario. You’d want to have stuff going on so that it doesn’t happen.

In your career, you’re always going to have an economical scenario that will be outside your bubble regardless of your tenure. There are comfortable opportunities for growth but there are also the uncomfortable ones. I can’t tell you how many times in my career that I’ve had these scenarios come up with my clients.

They ask me “What do I need to do” and I tell them, treat them the same way you do with everybody. Just because they have some extra zeroes at the end of their account balance doesn’t mean anything. I think that’s what we need to be also aware of as a profession.

We focus on the person and the wealth is secondary.Unfortunately, some advisors invert that where they see the portfolio balance or the net worth statement and think this person is different. As soon as that goes into your mind, you’ll be off your game.

And how many of you have bent your own internal rules because you treated a big deal differently? You allowed them to run the meetings a little bit more and didn’t ask the questions because you didn’t want to potentially offend them.

This is all about getting control of your mindset and recognizing that you have to do things exactly the same way each and every time. Protocols. You need to have your own protocols no matter who you’re dealing with.

Last thing to fix this uncertainty piece is your morning ritual or your mental diet. Understanding how you’re wired is super important. Be consciously aware of how you approach things.

You still have options even if they say “No”. You can either take the rest of the day off, go to a bar or whatever. Take time to process it. Just put a deadline on it so that it won’t leak into your other days. 

Declare your strategies in advance. Go on an automatic “gratitude mode”. Be grateful. You have a great family, a great life, a great house, and remember all the great things that you’ve done.

My secret strategy is that after I’ve done my “me” time after a deal gone wrong, I come back and go into “marketing mode”. I busy myself and contact prospects, ping my pipeline and fill that funnel back. That’s a real good strategy.

Remember that line from the “Rocky” franchise? “It’s not how hard you hit. It how hard you can be hit, fall down and get back up and keep moving forward”. I never forgot that.

That’s a great metaphor for life. You’re going to have great adversity. Things aren’t always going to go your way. It’s all about getting off your butt, keep playing the game and moving forward.

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