I know you know the feeling. You’ve finished up a fantastic consultation, you have your Ideal Client all ready to say yes, and you are excited to add another client to your practice. And then, it happens. The Excuse.
The Excuse arises when you ask, “When should we schedule our first meeting?” and comes in many forms (I need to check with the babysitter, I want my husband to come, I may have a work trip, I forgot my iPhone/Android/planner/calendar … ) but the end result is always the same. Prospects who are just inches away from becoming clients inexplicably slip into prospect purgatory.
You send a thank-you note with a request to schedule. A few days later you call and leave a message. A week later you still have not heard from them. You send an e-mail. Your energy starts to spiral downward with each day that passes while this Ideal Client is still not yet on board.
If you are not careful (and I speak from experience here), you can become obsessed with the reason why the person has not scheduled. He seemed so interested, where did I go wrong? Did I miss a cue? Did he find someone else? What’s up?! Should I call again? Should I e-mail? And before you know it, you’ve wasted too much time and energy on mental games that you should have instead directed to positive marketing initiatives.
This will happen. It does happen. Hopefully you’ve mastered the technique of getting the appointment, but even the best salesperson sometimes gets waylaid by The Excuse. So what can you do about it?
This is where your marketing system needs to kick in. Define your rules of engagement as a set process for your practice, follow the rules and keep moving forward. You won’t grow your practice by engaging just one prospect at a time. You need to continuously develop relationships with prospects at all points in the sales funnel, from newly aware of your services all the way through nurturing referrals from satisfied clients. You can’t stop and dwell on the prospect who seemed certain to convert to becoming a client but didn’t. You need to follow your marketing system and keep in action.
Like many planners, I’ve had prospects that became clients just one day after our first interaction as well as those who signed on years after we first met. I’ve structured the marketing system in my practice to ensure that we are regularly communicating and fostering a relationship with every prospect, no matter what their decision-making pace is. I’ve carefully thought through the touch-points that I want our firm to have with each prospect, especially during key interactions such as our first phone call and follow-up to a consultation.
Using customer relationship management software, it’s easy to visualize, schedule and manage personalized e-mails, newsletters and set reminders to check in to make sure no one falls through the cracks. Every day we build our relationship with hundreds of prospects at various points in the decision-making process which makes it much easier to take The Excuse in stride.
Kristin Harad, CFP®
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