woman advisor on phone in office smiling (Photo: Shutterstock)

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Two of the most important and often least desirable parts ofsales are asking for the order and prospecting. We are great atlearning about prospects. We excel at assembling world-classproposals. We can dazzle with presentations. Yet closing thebusiness deal can be difficult.

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We get lots of sales training, yet transitioning from presentinginformation to walking away with signed papers can be tough. Here'sthe good news: You don't need to reinvent the wheel. Let's look atfour effective strategies:

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1. The financial planning process. This isdesigned for working with people, yet it can be easily adapted toworking with a business.

  • You meet and gather data. Why? You want to present a solutiontailored to their needs.
  • During the process, you spot some low hanging fruit orimmediate business. You resist the temptation because you areinterested in the big picture.
  • At the next meeting, you review the data gathered, now in theform of a financial plan. You use trial closes to keep theirattention. You frequently refer to their stated objectives and howparts of your proposal address those objectives.

The close: "Implementation is the next part ofthe process. Here's what we need to do…" Out come the papers.

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Why it works: Linear thinking. If those trialcloses have gotten "yes" answers, a string of "yes" answers israrely followed by "No."

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Why it might not work: Your prospectisn't a linear thinker.

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2. Gaining approval in advance. It's the samestrategy as above. Perhaps the low-hanging fruit is mentioned inthe context of "We will review the plan at our next meeting anddecide at that meeting to implement or nor implement the entireplan."

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You make sure all decision makers will be present at the secondmeeting.

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The close: It started at the first meeting. Youset expectations the second meeting is decision making time.

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Why it works: The prospect doesn't think thisis an endless cycle of meetings and discussions. They come to thesecond meeting prepared to make a decision.

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Why it might not work: There is no secondmeeting. They book, cancel and reschedule. They were not reallyprepared to make a decision. You saved yourself a lot of time.

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3. Identify a need, present a solution. Yearsago, there were no Monte Carlo simulations in the financialplanning world. There were no financial plans as we know themeither!

  • In this scenario, you learn about your prospect and prepare afinancial plan and proposal, which you present later. You have theadvantage of knowing both the client's objectives, like acomfortable retirement and their current assets and how they areinvested.
  • You can ask: "Are you confident you will reach your retirementobjectives?" You might get a yes, but you follow up with "Howconfident?" You want a percentage as an answer.
  • Your proposal also includes projections. By reviewing them, youcan show the perceived likelihood they will achieve their goal bothas they are currently invested and as you are proposing, mindfulthere are no guarantees.

The close: "If it appears you won't reach yourgoal as you are currently invested, would you be interested in aplan that offers a higher probability of achieving your goal?"

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Why it works: You have likely uncovered aproblem. The problem won't go away if they choose not to buy fromyou. They still have a problem.

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Why it might not work: Various reasons, a majorone being the issue of being drastically underfunded for retirementnow.

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4. I respect that… People often don't want tofollow advice.

  • You do the best job you can.
  • You present your best recommendation. You are transparent oncosts.
  • You feel it's the best fit. They say no.

The close: "I respect that. It's importantbecause someone else may tell you about this strategy (product) andyou didn't know about it. You might wonder why I didn't tellyou."

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Why it works: You are expecting there will be afuture conversation. They would return. Why? Because you suggestedthe logical solution. They are shopping around. The other agents oradvisors they see tell them the same as you did. They realize "youwere right all along." When this happens, people often return tothe first person who made the proposal and buy from them.

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Why it might not work: They are the exception.They realize you were right, but they buy from the other guy.

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All these strategies sound familiar because they'vestood the test of time. They are consultative, not confrontational.But sometimes we need a reminder.

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Bryce Sanders is president of PerceptiveBusiness Solutions Inc. He provides HNW client acquisition trainingfor the financial services industry. His book, "Captivating the Wealthy Investor" can be foundon Amazon.

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Bryce Sanders

Bryce Sanders, president of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc., has provided training for the financial services industry on high-net-worth client acquisition since 2001. He trains financial professionals on how to identify prospects within the wealthiest 2%-5% of their market, where to meet and socialize with them, how to talk with wealthy people and develop personal relationships, and how to transform wealthy friends into clients. Bryce spent 14 years with a major financial services firm as a successful financial advisor, two years as a district sales manager and four years as a home office manager. He developed personal relationships within the HNW community through his past involvement as a Trustee of the James A. Michener Art Museum, Board of Associates for the Bucks County Chapter of the Fox Chase Cancer Center, Board of Trustees for Stevens Institute of Technology and as a church lector. Bryce has been published in American City Business Journals, Barrons, InsuranceNewsNet, BenefitsPro, The Register, MDRT Round the Table, MDRT Blog, accountingweb.com, Advisorpedia and Horsesmouth.com. In Canada, his articles have appeared in Wealth Professional. He is the author of the book “Captivating the Wealthy Investor.”