Dealing with Reluctant Clients

Every advisor has had an experience with a reluctant client. You’ve done a thorough job of understanding their needs, completed a full financial needs analysis and developed a great solution for them. And yet when decision time comes, they just aren’t sure. The temptation for some advisors might be to push harder on the solution or fallback on an old-fashioned ‘hard-close’. But the best, most trusted advisors know that indecision on the part of the client has its roots in a disconnect that has occurred somewhere along the way. They believe that gaining agreement from a client often means going backwards to find the break and then coming up with a way to reconnect.

Here’s how those advisors turn a difficult moment into an awesome client experience.

Retrace your steps to find the disconnect.

When a client hesitates at the decisive moment it’s time to reverse course and diagnose where you lost the connection. A good place to start is to summarize what you know so far, by reviewing their updated financial needs analysis (FNA). Pay particular attention to their risk profile and the automated recommendations your FNA has generated.

Look for points of agreement, but especially for any datum your client disagrees with or seems hesitant about. When those weaknesses appear you can probe by asking questions that might help you understand what the roadblock is.

Don’t let a client’s pain point become a point of pain for you.

If that review doesn’t reveal your client’s core issue try focussing on what you perceive their pain points to be—the key issues that your solution solves. Talk through the pain points with an eye to understanding if they are in fact legitimate sources of concern for your client. Are they actually feeling pain around the issue you felt was important? Chances are, if they aren’t willing to agree to your solution, you may not have identified the real pain points. In that case probe further to try and uncover what it is that really matters. Then you can either reframe how your solution relates to this new understanding of their needs, or create a new, better-fitting solution.

Make the solution real—use story-telling to make a connection.

Sometimes a client will hesitate about making a decision because, although the logic of your solution is faultless, they are not emotionally invested in the problem. Perhaps they see that what you propose makes financial sense, but haven’t connected to risks they face.

Those situations are a good time to harness the power of story-telling. A list of numbers and features can only be so compelling. Sure they are necessary and provide back-up to support the utility of your solution, but we all know people are motivated by trust and emotion and a host of intangibles that are best communicated the most ancient form of communication—story.

So, rather than plowing ahead with a raft of facts and figures, describe powerful incidents from your experience that drive home the power of your solution. Keep in mind that all stories have a beginning, middle and an end—a person living in their ordinary world that the listener can relate to, a problem that arises (like the need to protect and provide for a new child), and an ultimate solution.

Keep in mind that the bigger the problem, the more compelling the story. And the more your client can empathize with the hero the more motivated they will be. So, keep it short, but include those real and telling details that generate emotion. Take the time flesh out the person you’re talking about—where they are in their life, what their dreams are, what fears they wake up with each morning. Make the characters real. Give your client a hero they can identify with—someone just like them, with the same set of concerns.

Don’t ignore an undecided client.

If you determine that your client has a genuine need for your solution, but, after searching for the disconnect and sharing experiences, they are still undecided—that’s okay. Just make sure to stay in contact and watch for any changes. Ask for their agreement to review the situation in another month or two. Schedule that activity in your CRM so it doesn’t get missed. And prior to getting together again do two things—send them their financial needs analysis so they can update it prior to the meeting, and review that analysis and all of the records attached to that client in your CRM looking for anything in their situation that you may not have considered previously, or anything that has changed since you last met. Look for changes that might help you frame their needs and your solution in a way that might make a better connection.

Wrap Up.

Motivating an undecided client is really a matter of trying to create stronger and stronger connections. The more you probe and work to understand their true needs the more they will have confidence in you and your proposed solution. The more you build empathy and an emotional bond through the power of story-telling the more they will trust you. Putting those principles into action with all of your clients will guarantee you create great client experiences and build stronger relationships.