What a confusing business! So much contradictory advice! One advisor tells you their prospecting method is the best. Another tells you it’s never worked for them. You realize success in this business is all about ringing the cash register. That means closing business.
If there were ten commandments of closing written on stone tablets, they would probably look like these:
1. Thou shalt not say “Trust Me”. There are many logical reasons why becoming a client or buying a specific product is a good investment decision. Your client or prospect needs to buy into several to feel comfortable. If they have a better half, they will need to explain how they’ve invested the family’s money. “I didn’t understand, but the guy said ‘Trust me” can lead to the client reneging the next morning.
2. Thou shalt not ask for too much. Prospects have other advisory relationships in place. The like you but want to take you out for a test drive first by initially starting with a smaller dollar amount. They may feel this allows them to take a little from here, there and everywhere instead of firing one of their current advisors to raise money to send to you. Sales is both art and science. Ask for enough to make it worthwhile, yet an amount the prospect feels they can commit comfortably.
3. Remember to ask for the order. Prospects won’t say “Stop talking. I’m convinced.” You need to clearly describe what you want them to do and ask for their commitment. If you’ve proposed a managed money strategy you might ask “What do you think? Can we proceed with the plan?”
4. Thou shalt confirm the order. It’s great to ask for the close with a question where the uncomfortable answer is no. “Are you ready to address the issues?” The prospect probably says yes, but you need to clearly confirm what they’ve agreed to. Read it back to them. Get the paperwork signed, the check handed over or the securities transferred in. Explain “What happens next.”
5. Thou shalt not kill the sale by remaining silent. Once everything is signed and submitted, it’s tempting to lie low for the next few days. Advisors fear “I’m glad you called. We’ve talked it over and we’ve decided we don’t want to do it after all.” Your new client actually sees lots of attention, commitment and then, silence. They suspect your commitment to a long term relationship. Call with updates. Let them know when their first statement will arrive.
6. Thou shalt not run out of their house. It’s been said lawyers are told: “When the judge says ‘Not guilty’ close your briefcase and leave. Nothing good can be gained by hanging around.” Sales is different. Suppose you have a high energy exchange and the client agrees to buy. You smile. Suddenly the energy level drops. You place the signed papers in your briefcase and leave quickly. Your new client might think there’s a winner and a loser in every transaction. They have a pretty good idea who’s the loser. Guess what happens next!
7. Thou shalt not offer too many choices. You want to establish your professional expertise. They say they want income. You bring up a dozen alternatives including annuities, bonds, mutual funds and preferred stocks. You ask them to pick one. They are hopelessly confused. Faced with many choices, they see “none of the above” as the safe choice. Give them your best idea. Back it up with reasons. Have another idea in mind if they raise issues they didn’t mention before.
8. Thou shalt not lie. When you think “What will it take to close this sale?” it’s tempting to tell the prospect whatever it is they want to hear or hold back information. Investing is complicated. People need to go in with their eyes open. If they feel they’ve been deceived they might go along with the first transaction, but that’s the last business you will see. Trust vanishes when you start a relationship with a lie.
9. Thou shalt not forget trial closes. How do you know your client is following along as you deliver your presentation? Why wait until the end to find out? Ask questions like “Does this make sense to you? and “Are you comfortable with that?” You are trying to build a sequence of yes answers before you ask for the order.
10. Thou shalt not forget to compliment them on making a good decision. Your prospect has agreed. They may have bought into your line of thinking. They may have been worn down and decided to go along with you. There might be some doubt. They will likely need to explain the decision they made to a third party later. Compliment them. Explain why this was a wise decision. Mention the problem they outlined and how the solution you offered addresses the problem. How do they benefit? This reinforces their commitment and helps them explain their decision to others.
Closing is all about making the sale. It’s meant to be a collaborative process, not a scenario with a winner and a loser. You listen. You make recommendations. You always remember to ask for the order.
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