I was facilitating a workshop on sales skills for some Auto Finance professionals last week, and when it came to handling objections, the grievances started to fly:
Some of my clients have totally unrealistic expectations.
They don’t know how good they have it!
A 60% approval rate is great! I don’t know what they’re complaining about!
The frustration in the room was palpable.
Financial services, whether Auto Finance, Wealth Management, Banking or any other line of business, are highly competitive. All the major institutions are continually jockeying for position; fighting to be the firm of choice in the marketplace.
Consequently, there will be times when your institution has a slightly better rate or more favourable approval process, and other times your competitors will have the advantage.
In the pressure-cooker of sales it can be easy to slip into bringing your own fears and frustrations into a client meeting. When you let this happen, the way you respond to an objection can feel to your client more like a smack-down than receiving valuable advice and perspective.
You find yourself channeling your resentment into manipulative questions like:
Were you expecting 100% approval rate?
How realistic do you think it is to expect the bank to approve all your deals?
What are you telling your customers?
These questions are meant to shame a client into realizing that they’ve been naïve and overly demanding, and sorely lacking in appreciation for your hard work. In short, they are about you, not your client.
Imagine the shoe was on the other foot, and one of your suppliers or business partners tried to shame or embarrass you into ‘an education’. How comfortable would you be working with them? Would you look forward to another meeting with them or would you resent and avoid them?
Here are three tips to help them adjust their expectations while maintaining trust:
Look in the mirror
Use the Emotional Intelligence skill of self-awareness. In this context, that means naming your own frustration to yourself. Write it down. Journal it out. Example:
I’m so annoyed at the email my client sent about the last couple of declines. We approve about 60% of her deals – a great percentage! I’m working really hard and I need this business. Another bank is offering better rates right now, so I’m losing clients. I’m scared and angry and tired and depressed. Wow. That’s a lot of emotion. If I bring that into the meeting, even if I’m totally professional, the client is going to feel it and it won’t go well. I need to find a good way to process this.
Naming the emotional sludge in there drains it of its power over you.
Change your point of focus
In the above scenario, all your focus is on you and potential losses you might suffer. That’s going to keep your adrenaline pumping and trigger your stress responses.
You don’t need to dance and jump and make your case in order to prove your worth. You really don’t. You, are an expert in your field. You have knowledge they need. It’s inside you and it’s not going anywhere. Trust it.
Instead, take your focus off yourself and direct it wholly onto your client and their needs; you’ll experience an immediate sense of relief. A vacation from your own worries. When you are focused on being of service the client can feel it and trust increases. This buys you goodwill and sales, even in a tough environment.
Broaden the conversation
Any time you’re in a commoditized sales situation (they have a better rate; their terms are better than yours), this is your opportunity to really shine. Hell, anyone can sell a lower rate! A robot can do that! Stop leaning on it and complaining when it’s not there. Instead, demonstrate your value as a trusted advisor by broadening the scope of the conversation.
This will surprise your client.
They’re fully expecting to negotiate; to play you off the competition. Instead, surprise them with your care, and ask questions like:
What goals do you have for increasing your market share in the next year?
What has changed for you since you took over the business from your father? How does your vision differ from his?
With questions like these you can demonstrate that you care and also uncover whole new areas of opportunity. Now, you can offer insight, relevant information, and expertise; a truly valuable education.
From this place, you can share your perspective on rate from the position of Trusted Advisor. About as far from a resentment-inducing smackdown as you can get.
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Kira Callahan is an expert sales conversation coach serving the financial industry. Her private clients typically experience 30% – 100% increase in appointments and business booked. Click here to find out more about Kira.