business woman looking at camera and smiling, with hands clasped (Photo: Shutterstock)

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Sometimes we wish sales was like a vending machine: Prospects choose what they want, insert themoney, pick it up and walk away.  Selling in the insurance and investment worldis much tougher.  Similar sounding products can be sodifferent.  Even worse, prospects really do have a vendingmachine.  It's the Internet.  They search out thecheapest price and buy.

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But it might not be the right product for them.

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The prospect needs someone to learn their needs and makerecommendations.  Unfortunately, this can become veryconfusing, when there are large sums of money or long-termcommitments involved.

6 reasons why prospects don't make decisions

Why don't prospects make decisions?  In my research Ifound six reasons:

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1. Fear.  They are worried aboutmaking the wrong decision.  They think interest rates willgo up the day after they sign on the dotted line.  Theyare worried about losing money.  They did somethingsimilar before (or so they think) and it turned out badly.

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Try this:  What's the cost ofwaiting?  If their money is earning almost zero interestand the small return is also taxable, that's not a good place tobe.  What do they think will happen in a few months thatwould make it sensible to wait?  Compare that with whattheir money would do in the product you suggest in themeantime.

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2. Procrastination.  There's no senseof urgency.  'Why do I need to act now?  Won'tthis be available next month?  Next year?'

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Try this:  You might betalking about an insurance product with principalprotection.  Their money might be in the stockmarket.  The product might be available in a month or ayear, but what might happen to their money in themeantime?  It might be worth more.  Orless.  Maybe committing part of the money now is a goodidea.

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3. Too many alternatives.  They asked:"What should I do?"  You gave them options. Twelve of them.  Each has pros and cons.  Theyare hopelessly confused.  Faced with too many choices,doing nothing seems the safest course of action.

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Try this:  They asked foryour best recommendation.  Give them one.  Ifthey add additional provisions or restrictions on afterwards, thenyou can go to your second or third recommendation.

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4. They don't see the value you add. They think they can buy direct online, cutting out themiddleman.  That's fine if they are buying a brand-namerefrigerator.  They aren't.  Your expertise hasvalue.  They are actually buying your expertise.

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Try this:   Helpthem see that similar products often aren't.  Prospectshave specific needs.  This product meets them. It would be awkward if they bought a different product elsewhere,then discovered it didn't offer the coverage they thought itdid.  Their needs might change over time.  Youare embarking on a long term relationship with them, to helpthem.

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5. They work with an agent already. They feel it would be disloyal buying from you, when they could buyfrom their current agent.  That might be theirbrother-in-law.  They have one barber.  One automechanic.  One dentist.  'Isn't one insuranceagent enough?'

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Try this:  How many doctorsdo you have?  Different agents have differentspecialties.  You can work with more than one. You identified their need because this is what you are good atdoing.

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6. Lack of trust.  TV and films rarelyportray insurance professionals as heroes.  They are oftencast as greedy, badly dressed and desperate for business. 'Aren't you all the same?  Shouldn't I buy online, from areputable company and eliminate the human factor?'

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Try this:  Hopefully theycame to you by referral: You have a good reputation; you are evenwell-dressed(!).  Lean on your years in the industry, yourprofessional certifications.  They aren't gambling whenbuying insurance, but a casino analogy might help. Gamblers might choose table games, interacting with a dealer orplaying the slot machines.  The odds of winning are farworse on slot machines.  Adding the human element works inyour favor.  You are an honest agent, experienced andcertified, interested in building a long-term relationship andhelping your clients.

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There are several reasons prospects don't makedecisions.  You can address them in nonconfrontationalways.

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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.”