If you've been working for any amount of time as a financial advisor, you know the sales process involves lots of phone calls with prospective clients.
In an ideal world, every person you call is going to demonstrate nothing but enthusiasm and interest in the service you offer. Alas, this world is but a fantasy, and many potential clients are reluctant to engage with anyone calling them on the phone, even a financial professional who wants nothing more than to help them secure their financial future.
Luckily, we have Andy Cosby to help financial advisors leverage the power of genuine conversations to transform objections from potential new clients into avenues down which you can march towards building client relationships and closing deals.
Andy has been cleaning house at Planswell for years — he has the best conversion rate of any partner advisor ever, so he’s joined the team to help ensure that our other partners are able to knock their calls out of the park like he does. Read on for some of his expert advice for handling common objections.
Objection 1: "I already have a financial advisor"
You might be surprised how often this comment comes up, even when we're talking about Planswell households (all of whom took the time to answer 40+ questions about their personal financial life in order to have our system build them a free financial plan).
Even so, just because someone already has a financial advisor, doesn't mean you should cross them off your prospect list. Perhaps they are not getting the best advice. Perhaps the advice they’re getting isn’t comprehensive. It might be they’re getting advice with which they are not totally satisfied. If any of that happens to be the case, opportunity abounds.
In fact, Andy has many existing clients who, when he first called them, were working with other financial advisors.
When a prospective client hits you with the "I already have an advisor" line, you get two important pieces of information: first, they are interested and invested in securing their financial future. This is actually a good thing for you!
Even though they're already working with someone, taking the time to begin working with a financial advisor means they care about retiring comfortably. And they might just be open to working with a different advisor who could provide them with a way to retire sooner or with more money. (Pssst! That's you!)
Because this is a person who is already working with a financial advisor, you also know what kinds of questions you can ask them to help demonstrate your interest in this person's well-being and also illuminate the gaps in service they may be experiencing.
Follow up questions
The questions Andy recommends asking follow a particular cadence. First, gauge the prospect's relationship with their current advisor, then look to discover gaps in the service provided to them, and finally, encourage them to engage with you as a potential client.
You don't necessarily want to go through every single question on this list, but they are good examples of the kinds of questions you want to ask:
To gauge their relationship with their current financial advisor
How has your experience with your current advisor been?
How has the advisor you're currently working with helped you?
What good advice has your financial advisor given you?
How often do you speak with your financial advisor?
To discover gaps in current service
What kind of advice does your current advisor give you?
Are you working with a certified financial advisor, or someone from your bank?
To encourage them to engage further with you
Do you think it's a bad idea to get a second opinion about your finances?
Are you comfortable potentially leaving money on the table when it comes to planning for your retirement?
If you're sure you're getting the best advice possible, what motivated you to fill out the Planswell questionnaire?
If you can engage the prospect with a line of questioning that generally follows this cadence, you will have ample opportunity to not only discover their needs as a customer, but also demonstrate your interest in their financial (and general) well-being, which goes a long way towards moving the needle from “prospect” to “new customer.”
Objection 2: "I'm not interested"
This is basically the most common "objection" financial advisors come up against when calling prospective clients. The first thing Andy notes about this "objection" is it's not really an objection.
When someone says "I'm not interested," what they're really saying is, "I'm not interested in buying something" or "I'm not interested in being on the phone for half an hour" or something along those lines.
Lucky for you, you're not selling anything and you're not going to keep them on the phone for a long time either.
Resist your instincts
While your instinct might be to push back on a statement like this, you've got to repress the urge.
Instead, acknowledge how they feel: "I get it. You probably think this is a sales call, right?"
Andy notes asking the question ("right?") is important — it's equally important to resist the urge to answer the question for yourself. Hold off and let them respond.
Chances are, they'll confirm your suspicions, which gives you the opportunity to correct them.
"This isn't a sales call, actually. I'm here to see how I can help you."
If you're a Planswell partnering advisor, you can return to the tried-and-true script here: “I'm just following up because you took the time to fill out a form and create a financial plan."
The sooner you're able to correct their misconceptions about why you're calling, the sooner they'll begin to let their walls down and you can make some real progress towards building new client relationships.
Facing vehement resistance
People who start a conversation with "I'm not interested" can sometimes exhibit fairly vehement resistance to continuing a conversation about financial planning (or anything, really). As such, the questions you want to ask are quite different from those you want to ask folks who are already working with financial advisors.
Your goal here isn't to capitalize on existing interest, but to alleviate whatever concern is causing them to be so adamantly resistant to discussing financial planning.
First, you want to assure them you won't be taking up too much of their time. Andy suggests something along the lines of "can I ask you a couple of questions to get some feedback and then we can end the call?"
The “and then we can end the call” part is extremely important. It lets them know the end is in sight, which is probably something they’re worried about at this point. (Of course, your goal here is to get the information you need to keep them on the phone through their answers, but they don’t need to know that.)
Generally, they will allow you to ask a couple of questions in the name of "feedback."
Andy recommends asking what you could have said or done differently in order for them to have been open to having a quick chat with you about securing their financial future. In his experience, they'll usually give you exactly the information you need in order to shift their mindset.
For example, they might tell you they were concerned because they don't want to sign up or pay for anything. Or that they don't have the time to be on the phone all afternoon. In either case, you can politely correct their misconception.
If you do so — with the focus being on listening actively and understanding their position as opposed to thinking solely about earning their business — they're much more likely to engage with you and remain on the line.
Objection 3: "I already feel good about my finances"
Responding to this statement is similar to responding to someone who already has an advisor. Your goal here is to acknowledge their position (and positive thinking) and ask a series of questions designed to demonstrate your interest in their financial well-being and open up pathways you can use to illuminate some areas where you can be of value to them.
What do you feel the most confident about?
Do you have a financial advisor working with you already? (If so, you can use the questions listed for that scenario.)
Do you think it's a bad idea to get a second opinion about something as important as your financial future?
When you say "finances," what do you mean? (The goal here is to search for areas of need. If they have an IRA, awesome, but what about life insurance?)
Again, the key here is to let your genuine interest in this person’s ability to retire comfortably guide your questioning. If you demonstrate interest and investment in them, good things will follow.
Objection 4: "I wasn't expecting a call"
What happens when you give a procrastinator a good idea? Nothing. It is this logic, Andy says, that should govern your response to the statement, “I wasn’t expecting a call.”
Of course, if you're a Planswell partner, you have an especially good inroad here: “You took the step of filling out a questionnaire to learn more about your financial future, the logical next step is for me to follow up to make sure you understand the results and fine tune your plan to make sure you get the best results.”
If you're not a Planswell partner (you should probably consider it) you can still lean on the responsibility you have as a financial advisor to provide guidance and help people achieve their retirement dreams.
Be polite, be genuine, ask questions to get them talking about their life and goals, and you'll be good to go.
At the heart of all of these objection responses are some core principles you should keep in mind whenever you're calling prospective new clients.
Don't challenge, acknowledge
Even if a prospective client is making no sense whatsoever, even if they're logically contradicting themselves, even if they tell you mole people are controlling the government, don't challenge what they say. As Andy points out, "whatever they're saying to you on the phone, that's their reality."
If you end up challenging someone's perception of reality, you won't be making new friends anytime soon, and your battle for their business will certainly be lost.
Instead, you want to be sure to acknowledge their feelings, no matter what they are and suggest pathways for moving forward.
Don't get rattled, be comfortable
If you go into each call thinking to yourself "okay I need to earn this business or I'm in big trouble," you're never going to earn anyone's business. People can smell stress a thousand miles away (or, more realistically, they can hear it in your voice), and your stress will breed suspicion in those you call.
Instead of thinking of which closing technique you should be using to convert this prospect, simply focus on having an engaging and empathetic conversation with the person on the other end of the line.
If you can do this, you will learn the prospect's pain points and start establishing yourself as a person who cares about them as a person, not only as a potential new client.
Don't be interesting, be interested
Asking clients questions that prompt them to talk about themselves is a much better way to close sales and build relationships than trying to sell yourself as an expert financial advisor. Be genuinely interested in their lives, their goals, their aspirations, and their struggles, and ask questions that demonstrate that interest.
Everyone loves to talk about themselves, and if you show your interest in this person's life and well-being, they're more likely to want to continue a conversation with you.
Another facet of this concept is to make sure to listen actively during your conversation. If you hear dogs or kids in the background of your call, ask about them.
Not only does this give you more avenues to discuss financial planning with this person, but (more importantly) it shows you care about them and are paying attention.
Think of "objections" as conversation starters
If you can cultivate a mindset where you are genuinely engaged and interested in the prospect you are speaking to, this will come naturally, but it's worth pointing out anyways.
If you think this way, every objection becomes a road to further conversation. When they say "oh, I actually really like the financial advisor I already have" you now have a whole slew of follow up questions you can ask to learn more about them and prolong the conversation.
What do they do that you value so much? How have they been able to help you plan for retirement? In what areas are they advising you? Each answer leads to more questions and more information as to how you can be of service to this person.
Before you go…
And there you have it! Tested and refined responses to some of the more common objections financial advisors encounter when calling prospective clients for your playbook.
If you found this useful, or perhaps would appreciate further support from Andy Cosby himself, you should consider becoming a Planswell partner.
Our partners enjoy so much more than witty and helpful blogs. From weekly partner meetings, to live support sessions, to refined scripts that actually work, to prospecting pipelines the likes of which you’ve never seen before, Planswell really is a financial advisor’s best friend (sorry Fido).