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4 Reasons to Walk Away from Prospects

by Bill Cates

“Walking away from potential new business.”  Now there’s a concept that you don’t often hear discussed.  I think there are 4 main situations in which a financial professional should be willing to walk away from a potential new client.

1. Prospect doesn’t fit your business model.

When veteran financial professionals keep accepting clients who don’t fit their business model, they don’t have as much time to attract and serve the clients who do fit their model. Why do advisors take clients who don’t fit? Two main reasons: 1) They have a scarcity mentality, and/or 2) They are afraid to say “no.” 

Scarcity thinking prevents many talented financial professional from reaching their full potential. Do you see this business as being scarce in new clients and scarce in referrals, so you take whatever comes along? The truth is, there are plenty of great clients out there, you just have to put yourself in the right flow.

Sometimes financial pros will take referrals that don’t fit their business because they are afraid of offending the referral source. Educate your ‘A’ clients and centers of influence about exactly who you serve the best – for whom your processes are best suited.

When a client volunteers a referral in a meeting or over the phone, say something like, “Let’s talk about your friend George. We’re not the right firm for everyone. Let’s see if we have a good match before you introduce me to him.”

2. Prospect isn’t pleasant to work with or has unrealistic expectations.

I sincerely believe that an initial meeting between a financial professional and a prospect should be a mutual “interview” so the parties can see if they like each other and have similar expectations around service and performance.

How many times have you entered into a new relationship – business or personal – when all the red flags were there? Where you should have trusted your “gut”, “intuition” or whatever you choose to call that feeling you get and then ignore?

3. Allowing a win-lose (or lose-lose) to take place.

You’d think (or I would, anyway) that in today’s day and age, there wouldn’t be any financial professional who only has 1 or 2 hammers, so they still see every client issue as a nail. Unfortunately, this is still all too prevalent. Selling a product that is not absolutely perfect for a client is not only out of integrity and unethical, it’s also bad for business – especially the potential referral business. Please learn to walk away (gracefully and professionally) when the situation isn’t a complete win-win.

4. When the prospect is stringing you along.

Have you noticed that many prospects don’t know how to say “no” to you? Sure, many of them have no trouble at all, but many others give us “no’s” disguised as “maybe’s.”

What’s an advisor to do?  At some point, you go for the “no.” You say to this prospect who keeps telling you to call them back in 3 months, “George, I’ve appreciated your willingness to stay in touch. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I get the feeling that you’re being very polite – that the prospect of us working together isn’t that strong. Is that a fair statement?”

When you say this to a prospect – especially one who knows they’ve been stringing you along – you’re likely to get one of two responses. They will either say, “Well, I guess you’re right. I am very happy with my current advisor.” Phew! Now you can stop wasting your energy on them as a prospect. (This, by the way, doesn’t mean you stop dripping information to them in some soft way – especially if they are a big fish – but now you know the score.)

The second response could be, “Not at all. I really am interested. It’s truly a matter of timing. Let me explain a little better…”  Now you know you still have a decent prospect.

Your willingness to say “no” and walk away from imperfect situations – in the long run – will help you build a stronger business that will also produce more referrals.

Forward this article to a friend or colleague.

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