Updated: Nov 2020
The holidays means one thing in sales: stalls. All of the salespeople that came before us didn’t do us any favors by accepting the “call me after the holidays” excuse from prospects. During this time of the year, it’s the go-to stalling method for prospects.
When your prospects first learned about how you can help them plan for their financial futures, they must have had some motivation to attend a in-person or virtual workshop or meet with you. Did your prospects discover they have pain? Or did they just attend the event or meeting because they felt sorry for you or liked you, and now they think that delaying future meetings is the easiest way to let you down softly?
If your prospects were actually ready to create a plan to address their financial concerns, what would be the benefit of waiting until after the holidays? True, there won’t be presents to buy or turkeys to cook, but stock market volatility will not wait until after the holidays to wreak havoc on an unprepared investor. The statistical odds of needing some type of extended costly healthcare event will not wait until the holidays are over to devastate the life savings of those who may be starting or approaching retirement.
The holiday season stall generally boils down to a couple of areas in the sales process and guess who is responsible? You got it, the salesperson.
For years in all sales environments, including the financial services industry, salespeople have accepted the “call me after the holidays” stall which is one of the main reasons prospects continue to use it. Prospects have a perception in their mind that retirement, income, and legacy planning can only take place 10 months out of the year. That's because salespeople have accepted that notion and many stop prospecting during the holidays.
Let’s ask a couple of even tougher questions. Who is really in control when salespeople allow a prospect to use this stall? The prospect is in control. And when the prospect is in control, salespeople give away their expertise. This quickly turns into unpaid consulting for financial advisors who will jump through hoops for prospects, but don’t end up making the sale.
The other question is this: Do your bills and expenses take the holidays off? Of course, they don’t. If anything, they tend to increase due to your additional holiday spending. If you discover that prospects are not willing, ready, and able to make a financial decision during your process, you should not be wasting your time or theirs continuing to meet with them.
Your goal should be to use the top sales techniques and an effective systematic approach 100% of the time with 100% of your prospects. The "100% of the time" includes the holiday season. At the start of your process, you should discuss the rules of play with your prospects. You must help each prospect identify their pain and the impact of that pain. If there is no impact, the prospect will most likely try to delay your future meetings until "after the holidays."
If Not Now, When?
When exactly is after the holidays? How many days, weeks, or even months do you wait to start conducting business again? If you accept this stall from your prospects, what do you think your odds are of getting in front of them again?
Let me help you: slim and none.
The phrase "after the holidays" is not a definitive time. If you can schedule a specific date, you may still be able to close the sale. It may prove more difficult if you do not maintain contact with your prospects for weeks or months. If you don’t schedule a specific time in the future, you are dead in the water.
Eliminate this game of delaying meetings by determining what problem caused prospects to meet with you in the first place, if that problem has true impact in their life, and if it will be taking the holidays off as well. Will anything change after the holidays? If there's no real reason to delay, are they still prospects or just thinking they're being polite by not saying "no"?
If you let a prospect delay your process until an unspecified date “after the holidays," you're basically wishing and hoping they will want to continue working with you. Wishing and hoping doesn’t work out in the world of finance.
Don't let prospects stall.
Help each of your prospects identify their pain and the impact it's currently having on their lives and they will be less likely to delay solving those issues. Control the situation by having a definitive process with a definitive timeline. This will help both you and the prospect have a better holiday season.