Buyer’s remorse – no one is exemptArticle added by Steve Lewit on July 13, 2012

Steve Lewit

Buffalo Grove, IL

Joined: February 27, 2008

My Company

Everyone has buyer’s remorse — you, me, and all of your clients.

In part one of this series, we looked at how change creates doubt and how people second guess the decisions they've made. They question whether they made the right decision, spent the right amount of money, chose the right product and worked with the right advisor. And, with the level of volatility present in today’s world, we know how fear of the future has magnified that doubt and is causing clients to question their decisions at ever higher levels.

To avoid getting the dreaded, “Let’s put this deal on hold” phone message, I’ve suggested that you bring up buyer’s remorse right at the end of your client meeting, after the clients have done all of his or her paperwork and just before they leave. Because we know that your clients will have a discussion in their car driving home, asking themselves if their decision was a good or bad one, we also know we are much better off if we can bring up any issues while our clients are still sitting in front of us.

So, I present to you the words to bring up buyer’s remorse before it happens with the goal of actually trying to undo the sale just after it is made. I identify an area where my clients were uncomfortable and then bring that up again, saying that if they have any buyer’s remorse about this or any other issue, I’d rather give them their paperwork back now than get a call tomorrow morning putting the deal on hold.

Now that you’ve raised the landmine issue of buyer’s remorse first, your clients will have no other choice than to either agree with you and cancel right there and then, or defend their decision and convince you that they will not cancel, which means that you’ve reversed the roles of who’s selling who. Now they are selling you on the fact that they will not cancel. If they convince you that the sale is solid, then it will be. In that case, you will have no fear when you pick up your messages in the morning.

But what about the people who do not come fighting back to keep the sale intact, or come fighting back halfheartedly? Or worse yet, those that make that cancellation call. What do you do then? Be prepared.

Here are two key rules to keep in mind:

1. Whatever someone wants to do is perfectly okay with me. That means there absolutely no energy is spent on my part trying to convince the clients that they should do anything other than what they want to do. In short, no selling, especially when there is a balk or cancellation.

2. If someone wants to cancel, I lead the charge to cancel the policy. This means, in combination with rule number one, that instead of trying to hold my client back from the cancellation, they need to keep up with me as I charge forward to make the cancellation happen.
Here’s a real example:

My client calls and says he thought about it over the evening and he wants to cancel. I am, of course, blindsided, as I had already talked to them about buyer’s remorse and they convinced me that they were quite satisfied. Here’s where I put rule number one into play (not easy to do in the moment, especially when you are blindsided). I say, “Jim, absolutely no problem. I’m sure you have very good reason for making this change.”

Using rule number one aligns me with Jim. He feels no block on my part from what he has decided he wants to do. In fact, he is surprised because he expects a fight from me, but he doesn't get it.

Then I move to rule number two: “Jim, I’m right on it. In fact, I know how uncomfortable you must be right now so I’d like to get this done for you immediately. So, as soon as we hang up, I’ll move the cancellation to the top of my to-do list. All I need for the cancellation paperwork is a short explanation of why you’re cancelling.”

Now I am charging ahead. Probably faster than Jim ever imagined I would go. He needs to keep up and easily shares with me the reason for the cancellation. “Well Steve,” he says, “The market is going up and I’m thinking that I’d like to keep this money in the market.”

I say, “Just hold on a second Jim while I write that down in your words. Okay, the market is going up and you’re thinking that you would like to keep the money in the market. Great. That’s all I need. How about I call you back in a few minutes just to confirm that the cancellation is in place?”

Jim says, “That would be great.”

I say,“Oh ... Jim, before I hang up, just one question. I thought that this money was slated to be safe money, money that you just didn’t want to lose. So, I guess I misheard you at some point and I want to apologize for that. Obviously you are willing to take more risk than I planned you for!”

The “Oh by the way, before I hang up, can I ask you just one more question,” is a phrase I’ve used for years over the phone. When people know you are going to hang up, they are much more receptive to answering your question.

Jim says, “No, Steve, you didn’t get it wrong.This is money we don’t want to lose. It’s just that the market is going up.”

“Jim, I’ve just thought of another question before I go. Can I ask you it now or when I call you back?”

Jim says, “Now is fine.”

I say, “Jim, I’m somewhat confused. If you were me, and your client was telling you that they dedicated a certain amount of money to safe money, but they want to keep it in the market to reap a potential gain, what would you say to that person?”

Jim says, “I would say that they could also lose that money.”

I say, “That’s what I was thinking. Would you say anything else?”

Jim says, “I would say that safe money should be safe money and risk money should be risk money and the fact that the market is going up shouldn’t make any difference.”

I say, “Jim, I think you’re reading my mind.”

Jim says, “Steve, uh, hmmmm. You know what? Forget this whole conversation and make believe we never had it.”

I say, “Jim, that makes me really uncomfortable. How about I just cancel the thing and give you time to think?”

Jim says, “No Steve. I’ve made up my mind. Just keep things the way they are.”

I say, “You sure Jim? These kinds of calls are really aggravating.”

Jim says, “Steve, I don’t want to aggravate you or me. So that’s that. Keep it the way it is!”


Once you understand and remember that buyer’s remorse is part of the buying process, you can be prepared to deal with it. By bringing up buyer’s remorse first, you set a standard for your clients, which makes cancellations virtually disappear as they vow that they are happy and will not cancel.

But, being human, people shift and change. By taking a passive attitude towards their cancellation and then leading the charge to make it happen, clients let their defenses down and become very real about their decision. Then, with a few well-placed questions, those same people who just cancelled on you will turn around and buy again — all with no selling, convincing or manipulating.
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