Why You Need To Rethink Your Prospect Process

4 min read

One Little Thing Advisors Do To Tank Onboarding
Matthew Jarvis
Financial Planner, CFP®

Buy today—that’s what your prospects are so used to hearing. And this is what they expect when they come into your firm for the first time.

“Buy today” has become America’s default sales tactic, and your prospects are jaded toward sales. They’ve been talked into products or services that weren’t a good fit. They’ve been conned, scammed, and pressured into handing over their hard-earned money to silver-tongued salespeople.

When consumers shop for big purchases, like a new car, they’re told at the Toyota dealership that only Toyota will solve all their problems. But they heard the same thing from the GMC dealership, the Nissan dealership, and wherever else they shopped.

Every salesperson pitched their brand as the solution to their problems and offered the best deals only if the consumers bought them today.

And the majority of financial advisors aren’t any different.

Your prospects have a history of being duped, swindled, and suckered by sleazy salesmen who believe that customers need to be talked into doing something they weren’t ready to do

The “buy today” phenomenon in the United States constantly forces consumers to make decisions on a whim, so they default to which service provider has the nicest office or the best haircut.

I won’t win if the decision comes down to who has the best haircut—it’s not in the cards for me. So, I need to reframe the game in my favor.

The financial industry is inundated with advisors who beat their chests over being “the most comprehensive” or the “best fiduciary.” These terms are meaningless to consumers. They don’t know what any of that means or why it matters.

So, for many prospects, it boils down to a popularity contest because they don’t know any better way to tell us apart—much like a car dealership. As an advisor, you’re left trying to convince prospects not only that they should buy the service but also that they should buy it from you.

Let’s say I’m shopping for a dentist, and I visit a new office.

I walk in and see that the dentist hung three framed degrees on his wall. He tells me he specializes in XYZ, but it doesn’t mean anything. I don’t understand the medical jargon or what all the letters after his name mean. And the other three dentists I checked out all have framed degrees and bonus letters and tell me the same things.

I won’t use their diplomas, designations, or jargon to decide. It’s going to come down to who has the best price. 

That’s it.

But you can change a prospect’s perspective of you and stand apart from your competition by leveraging your strengths through your prospect process.

What every prospect process needs

A well-designed prospect process should put your differentiating value proposition front and center. Your prospect process shouldn’t just highlight your value proposition but also show your prospects why it matters and why they should care.

If your prospect cannot see that, you become a commodity where price and convenience are the only things that matter.

How do you know your service has become a commodity?

Well, are you getting clients who call you snipping about your fees or irked that it takes you longer than 10 minutes to return their call? If you are, it’s because you unintentionally sold them at your low price and high convenience, not a premium service with a premium price tag.

So, what does leveraging your value through your prospect process look like in real life?

When John Barron helped me with my prospect process, we focused our entire approach on pre-educating my prospects. I won’t cajole someone into being my client. I want prospects to have a safe space to make educated and informed decisions about my firm.

One of the pieces of my process that John helped me design was a list of ten questions that you should ask every financial planner. When prospects come in to see me, I hand them the list of questions and say:

Great news! We’ve put together this list of questions you should ask every advisor, and for your convenience, we’ve provided our answers.

Again, I want to stack the cards in my favor, so there’s a question about how we use tax planning to ensure clients aren’t killed in taxes.

If the prospect interviews other advisors and those advisors say, “We don’t do tax planning.” I just won the game.

That question about taxes also translates my services—my value—into something they can appreciate. Nobody wants to get killed in taxes.

Once my prospective clients saw the value in tax planning, it became a massive distinguisher. Tax planning is something I do differently than other advisors in my area, and I was able to show prospects why they should care.

After educating your clients on why your unique value proposition matters to them, you need to remove the pressure of having to buy today.

Prospects are so used to being coerced into sales that they automatically assume it’s coming. At some point during your sale, your prospects will hit some resistance, and they will slow down or stop moving through your process.

One of the secrets to moving someone along your product process is making that process seem compelling and worth doing, not the snatch or the services, but the process itself.

You need to make it valuable and feel safe for your consumer. Help them not to feel pressured, and that’s part of the lightness you can bring and how you present it.

I always joke that there’s no lock on the door; this isn’t a timeshare presentation, so my prospects are free to go anytime.

As we move through my process, I always address the elephant in the room and tell my prospective clients that there won’t be a hard sell today. Instead, I want them to go home and think about any questions or concerns they had from our meeting today.

Sitting in these meetings, I can see the weight lift from my prospective client’s shoulders and their relief that they don’t have to decide this minute to hire me.

Action Items

Explore what makes your firm unique from your competitors and how to leverage that difference in your prospect process.

What unique service did you design your firm to provide?

Next, figure out a way to educate your prospective clients on what makes you different so they can see the value of what you offer.

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