Part of a training course I recently attended included strategies to help advisors improve their sales. The instructor asked, “What’s the worst thing a prospect can say when you ask them to do business with you?” Most of the 200-plus people in the room agreed that the worst reply would be, “No, I’m not interested.”
But I disagree. Depending on the type of sales prospects you’re talking to, a response of “no” can actually be a good thing. In fact, “yes” can actually be more of a problem in some cases! To better understand why, read on.
Types of Sales Prospects
There are three types of prospects you need to know about.
I categorize sales prospects into three types, or levels, based on their personalities. When I meet a prospect, I want to know what kind of client they’re going to be before I decide to start working with them.
Level One Prospects
These people are generally defensive, rude and unhappy. They gossip, complain, blame others and have excuses for everything. They don’t listen, and spend their time telling versus asking. If issues come up, they ignore them, hoping they’ll go away.
Level Two Prospects
These people lack focus, time, and/or money because they’re overextended. Eventually, when they decide to get serious about money management, they’ll become a Level One or a Level Three Prospect.
Level Three Prospects
Level three prospects are balanced, grounded and positive. They’re clear on what they want and focus their energies on HVFDAs (high-value fixed daily activities). When challenges come up, they quickly resolve them. They take responsibility for their lives and take action to make things happen.
Your Prospect’s Response
Responses from your prospects offer clues to what they’ll be like as clients.
It’s easy to see that you’ll be more productive if you avoid level one prospects and work only with level three and level two prospects. Understanding how each type of prospect typically responds will help you focus your energy and improve your sales.
Level One Responses
Level one prospects often flat-out say, “No, I’m not interested.” When they do this, consider yourself lucky!
But another typical level one response is “Yes, but…” When a level one prospect says this to you — and you find yourself actually working with them — prepare to waste a lot of time and destroy your closing ratio.
Level ones will set appointments and miss them. They’ll find excuses not to work with you, and do their best to make their problems your problems. When you offer solutions, they’ll spend hours giving you reasons why they won’t work. Their problems are working so well for them that they have no reason to change.
Level ones are the people you need to get out of your business — fast. Ultimately, these people deplete your energy and make you want to switch careers. So unless you want to join them in the insanity club, just get rid of them as graciously and as quickly as you can.
Level Two Responses
When you ask level two people if they’d like to meet to review their portfolios, they might reply, “Yes, I’m interested, but not now. Please contact me in three or six months.” Or they might say, “No, I’m not interested now, but check back with me in six months.”
When you check back with them, there’s a good chance they’ll give you the same kind of runaround, but it’s important to keep following up. The best strategy for this type of prospect is to set up an automated follow-up system and touch base with them every three to six months.
At some point, they’ll either become a great level three client or revert to a level one who you can get away from. Often, when you start staying in contact with a level two prospect, they’ll hire you to manage their money years later when they sell their business or come into an inheritance.
Level Three Responses
Level three prospects will respond, “Yes, I’m interested” with enthusiasm, or they’ll turn you down with politeness and respect. They don’t make things personal and they don’t get defensive.
As you can see, “No, I’m not interested” isn’t the end of the world, as the majority of the people attending that recent training session had assumed. Having a level one prospect tell you “Yes, but…” is far worse!
Your closing ratio will soar once you understand that the best-case scenario is when a level three prospect says, “Yes, I want to start working with you.”
Having a level three prospect tell you “No” is also good because you really know where you stand, and having a level two prospect ask you to check back with them could work out well in the long run.
Attract Level Three Clients by Being a Level Three Producer
Attracting level three clients requires that you become a level three producer. Just as you can’t listen to radio station 100.3 if you’re tuned in to 99.9, you can’t attract a level three client if you’re a level one or level two producer.
Follow these guidelines to raise your business, and yourself, to a higher level:
Level three producers ask questions without planning a response. They want raw input from clients and prospects that they can use to provide better service. Listening, without an agenda, will turbo-charge your production.
Level three producers know that they’re in a “numbers game.” They qualify and sift through prospects to get rid of level ones and fill their pipeline with level three and level two prospects.
Level three producers focus on what they want versus what they don’t want. They’re crystal clear about their desired result, and take the time to set affirmative goals and perform HVFDAs (high-value fixed daily activities) to keep themselves on task. They also understand that once they decide what they want, they don’t have to worry about how it will come to fruition.
Level three producers understand the importance of a solid foundation. They take time for their inner work, get adequate sleep, eat an excellent diet, think positive thoughts, and surround themselves with people who also operate at level three.
When you become a level three producer, you’ll soon realize that not only your closing ratio and income level will improve, but also that your entire life becomes more joyous and fulfilling. All it takes is a little discipline, an understanding of the three prospect types, and a feeling of gratitude when people tell you they’re not interested.
Recommended Books on Understanding Sales Prospects:
- New Sales. Simplified.: The Essential Handbook for Prospecting and New Business Development
- Winning Sales Letters From Prospect to Close
- Winning Website Sales Letters: How To Create An Opening That Pulls Prospects In… A Message That Sells Them… And An Offer They Simply Can’t Refuse!
- Hot Prospects: The Proven Prospecting System to Ramp Up Your Sale
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