by Tony Vidler
I think it has always been true, but it is more true than ever: a needy adviser is a major turn off to potential clients. YOUR need will a sale.
Sometimes, perhaps too many times, the reason why consumers do not buy is because of us. Whether we are trying to sell an idea, a service, a fee or a product, often the reason why clients and prospects do not buy is because they just don’t want to be pushed around.
As consumers get an increasing volume of marketing messages in any given day, which is generally estimated to be between 3,000 & 5,000 brand exposures per day for the typical western society consumer, their patience with pushiness shortens. Some studies suggest that the volume of marketing messages for more affluent consumers (the more preferable demographic for a high proportion of marketers) might be as high as 20,000 per day.
When this sheer volume of intrusions and overt demands for the consumer to spend their money or time are combined with the individual consumers increasing ability to switch off advertising and use mobile search to hunt down their particular preferences all by themselves, it is little wonder that many cite “pushy salespeople” as their biggest business turn-off.
Bear in mind that research also consistently shows that price is rarely the deciding factor for today’s consumer. That’s right; price doesn’t matter anywhere near as much as we think it does. It is usually not the biggest barrier at all. The proportion of consumers who shop primarily on price – and therefore those most likely to use disintermediated professional services such as robo-advice – are generally found to be less than 10% of the middle-income to affluent segments of society. Generally, more than half of them are happy to pay fair price for fair value, and a high proportion are willing to pay more again for higher value or convenience.
Price is not the problem most of the time therefore.
Nowadays if an adviser brings their own needs to the forefront of the process at the expense of the consumers preferred decision-making timeframe then the consumer is most likely to “kill the sale” very quickly indeed. They are becoming hard-wired to make swift decisions to opt out. In fact they are getting told to by regulators and consumer advocates aren’t they? Opting out of aggressive or intrusive advertising is as easy as anything and done without thought; walking away from a pushy person is even easier. Jumping away from one information source and switching to another can be done in seconds on smartphones.
Desperation to meet a sales or production quota…or make a commission….or have a client commit to an engagement before they’ve had the opportunity to do their research on you….they are all sales killers. Even if money is not what is motivating us to try and move things along, the consumer perception will most often be that it is our need for a financial result at their expense which is driving our behaviour. We might simply be impatient with the engagement process and paperwork we need to do; but their perception is that the pushiness is about making “a sale”.
No matter how urbane and polished a professional may be, and no matter how apparently calm and poised they are, it is impossible to hide the agenda when someone is pushing ahead faster than a consumer wants to go.
You could almost call it a rule today. The consumer gets to set the pace of the engagement….we have to move at their speed. Usually that is far slower than we would like, although occasionally it is faster than we can handle. When their preference is speed and our process gets in the way, then we have to sideline the process and deliver the outcome. They are the paying customer, and if speed is what they want then speed should be what they get. We still have to do the process stuff later but it is “back-filling”, isn’t it?
For most though, their speed doesn’t fit with our need. THAT is a massive risk for most professionals. Our frustration at the pace set by the consumer will tend to be interpreted mainly as the professional placing their needs first. Good prospective clients are lost every week by impatient professionals who try to push the pace.
Be mindful of the rapidity with which consumers today will hit the “kill switch” and turn off an engagement. They are very swift to do so in the main. Bear in mind that the number one reason why they do so is “annoyance”. It isn’t our pricing or our terms or our process…..it is them getting annoyed at us trying to move them along at a pace they did not choose.
Our need to keep things moving and get along to the next client engagement is one of the biggest sales-killers in professional services today. Be prepared to slow it down with any individual consumer, but keep moving at the pace you need to on marketing and engaging other consumers.
It has never been more important than it is today to keep filling the top of the funnel with potential clients, and have a really strong engagement process that delivers the information prospects want….and then nurture them along their decision making path at the speed they choose.
When we forget that the consumer sets the pace while we only control the process, our need for speed will kill more sales than it creates.