The client who can't pull the triggerArticle added by Steve Lewit on November 20, 2013

Steve Lewit

Buffalo Grove, IL

Joined: February 27, 2008

My Company

United Advisors

We’ve all been down this road. The meeting process goes well; there is planning and product agreement, the paperwork is filled out, but the client won’t call to sell or notify his current advisor that he is moving money to someone else.

While you are diligent in calling, you keep getting the same messages: "Oh, I’ve just been too busy. I had to take care of a couple of other things. I was reviewing what we were doing" and so on and on.

Bottom line: no business and lots of stalls.

I’d like to say that I’m immune to these folks. I’d like to say that, but if I did, I’d be lying to you. It happens to me, too!

In order to know what to do with these clients, it is first important to understand that when clients meet their reality, they often meet a condition for which they are not prepared. Our job, early in the selling process, is to bring clients into a sense of financial reality regarding their income, the risk they are taking, and what it will look like in the future. That reality is often an eye-opener, which is emotionally disturbing. It is from that emotional disturbance that they elect to make a change, a change that will deliver more palatable emotions.

Late in the process, clients may find that they meet another emotional disturbance that they didn’t see coming — pulling the trigger of change. Calling their current advisor, selling positions in the market, submitting transfer paperwork, etc. If dealing with these new emotions has less energy than getting rid of the negative emotions associated with their current financial situation, they balk. And when they do, you must have an immediate answer.

Here’s what it sounds like:

You: Frank, it seems to me that you have some buyer’s remorse going on here and just can’t pull the trigger to implement the new plan we put together.

Client: Well, I really like the plan … but … I don’t know … it’s a big change.

You: Oh, I understand. Sounds like you have some questions that need to be answered more clearly so that this whole change makes sense to you?

Client: Well, maybe.

You: How about we do this? I’m going to put a hold on everything as soon as I get off this call with you; but before I hang up, let’s schedule another appointment to review just what and why we decided to do what we’re doing. Then you give me a thumbs up to continue the process, or we leave the cancellations on record and part ways. John, I’m good either way, just want to get to a clear decision. Does that sound fair?
Client: Yes it does. Maybe we were just going too fast?

You: I’m getting the sense from you that we were, and I take full responsibility for. I should have seen the signs and slowed down a bit.

Client: No, it’s not your fault. You know, I did some reading on the Internet, had a conversation with my current guy, and a lot of questions came up.

You: I see. John, can I ask you a candid question?

Client: Sure.

You: Would you prefer just to cancel this whole thing and work it out with your current advisor?

Client: Absolutely not. He doesn’t do what you do. Let’s get together.

You: Fair enough. Do you have your calendar handy?


When deals go south, make sure that you walk away from your client in a nurturing and friendly way, before your client walks away from you. In that way, you empower your client to get you what you want, a clear “no” or “yes” decision. Remember, clarity is reality for you and your client, and that is a lot healthier, even if you don’t like that reality, than indecision.
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