Help them embrace the problem

By JHLynch

Sales First Aid


Over the years many advisors have experienced a great deal of frustration in this area. Think back and see if you can recall this happening to you.

You have a prospect meeting and everything seems to go well. You bond with the client, you have great conversation, you start to like each other and then they break out their tax return or some other piece of documentation that clearly illustrates that they have a problem. It's right there, in black and white. You can see it as clearly as the nose on your face.

Your mind races directly to the end of the appointment, and you know exactly how to fix this problem. But for some reason the prospect doesn't buy. They might even tell you they want to think about it.

What happened? Many times this scenario plays out because the prospect hasn't embraced or taken ownership in the problem. This can be a real dilemma because if you reach out and say,"Here is your problem," you run the risk of total alienation.

Why? Because what the prospect says is gospel, and what you say is immaterial. If you reach out and point the problem out without the prospect identifying that this is the problem, they very well could sit back and say, "No, that's your problem, not mine,” and might even take offense to the notion because of ego.

What if your appointment is with a husband and wife and for all the years of their marriage he has told her that he's the man and he has all their retirement savings and investments handled? If he hasn't declared that this is the problem, he could object later just to save face.

The key to allowing the prospect to embrace the problem is asking the appropriate questions at the right time. By asking the right questions, you will allow the prospect to discover the problem and own it. Again, otherwise they might take offense to your suggestion that this is their problem and become defensive.

The questions should center around a few key aspects or points:
  • How long has this been on their mind? How long has this been a problem?

  • What impact has this situation had on their life or the lives of their family members?

  • Have they tried to solve this previously or is this their first attempt?

  • What will they do if you can't solve this situation for them?
There are a few others that can be important, but if you start here you can get a good sense for how in touch with or how closely they have embraced this problem if at all.

To be notified next time I post a blog, please click the “Follow” button below my headshot in the top left corner.