What’s this gonna cost me?
Your fees are too high.
I’d like a better rate.
I can get a quarter point lower at (x competitor).
If you want my business, make me a better offer.
How are you feeling right now? If your blood pressure is creeping up just reading the above price-jockeying phrases, you’re not alone.
Take a deep breath. Handling the rate/fee objection is one of the toughest things an Advisor has to deal with, but it doesn’t need to be!
First of all, this is an entirely predictable conversation. Not every client will engage in a negotiation or challenge you on compensation, but a percentage of them always will. So there’s no need to fear the unknown. This is not unknown. It’s going to happen. Let’s look at how to handle this situation effectively.
It’s a good idea to get clear on where the pressure is coming from.
What is your honest opinion about the fees you’re charging, in relation to the value you provide? Do you feel proud of your skillset, of the expertise and advice you provide and the positive outcomes they create? Get clear on that. Pull specific examples of how your intervention has saved or earned your clients money, and/or protected them well. This should give you a quiet confidence when interacting with prospective clients.
Some Advisors struggle with confidence issues that have nothing to do with the quality of their work. If this is you, collecting ‘proof’ of the good work you consistently do, will help you greatly.
Conversely, if you reflect on your compensation and dread being questioned about it, you may honestly doubt that you’re worth it. If that’s the case, no amount of conversation or negotiation practice is going to help. Roll up your sleeves and get to work improving your skills. Create the solid foundation you need from which you can speak with strength and integrity about the value you bring.
You may be facing cash flow crunches which make you feel like the stakes are high for every single sales call or meeting. This kind of ‘fear focus’ is a liability when talking with prospective clients.
For immediate relief from this pressure, take a mental vacation from your own s**t. Learn to discipline yourself to be fully present with your client and make the meeting all about them. Easier said than done, it’s true, but this skillset alone can transform your career. You’ll avoid burn-out, enjoy every call and meeting more, and because this kind of service builds trust, you’ll close more business.
Much like cash flow, company sales targets can feel like a looming pressure that creates anxiety. Use the same antidote. Whenever you’re with a client, park all external concerns at the door and give each person your undivided attention. The business will come.
Having addressed the other pressures, you’re in good shape, but you still need to successfully navigate their fee objection.
To Win the Rate Objection, Get Off of Rate!
Your prospective (or renewing) client is in your office for a reason. They have a need. They are at least somewhat invested in the idea of working with you. If rate was the only thing that mattered, an AI algorithm could take care of them. Help them see the bigger picture.
Here are 3 questions to shift the conversation off rate and put you back in the driver’s seat:
Aside from rate, what is important to you in an investment strategy?
You generally know far more about financial planning than your clients. They may have no understanding of other considerations such as liquidity, risk tolerance, asset mix, tax implications, etc… If you allow the conversation to stay on the narrow focus of rate, you are a) doing them a disservice and b) getting stuck in a defensive posture.
This question will broaden the scope of the conversation and uncover their true priorities. Once you understand what is driving them, you can put your compensation into a context that will make sense for them.
What would an ideal relationship with a Financial Advisor look like for you?
They didn’t go online to buy an index fund, they came to you. They want and/or need human interaction. This is a real part of the value you provide. The more you can define that value, the more you will future-proof your livelihood in the face of advanced artificial intelligence offerings that are making their way into this industry.
Your client may want you to a) help me stick with my plan even when it’s challenging b) help me talk to my parents/kids about money c) see into the future for things I don’t know I need yet and on, and on and on. When you ask this question, pause. Be silent while they go within to reflect on what they need. A deeper, more value-oriented conversation will result.
What made you decide to take this meeting?
If your client is hammering you on rate they may have gotten a call from a competitor painting a rosier picture. Or their roof may have caved in at home, saddling them with a huge, unexpected bill, and making them panic about money. Or any of a hundred other reasons. Once you understand why they are with you, and why now, you can adapt your approach.
When a prospective client calls and asks for a rate, your default instinct will often be to just quote them one. Rate-shopping is a race to the bottom. In order to open up new business built on strong relationships, change the premise of the conversation.
To win the rate objection, get off rate.
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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.