Getting Past an Initial No Without Souring the Relationship

Oct 24, 2022 | Written by Samuel Newland, CFP.

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Let’s face it. While the prior blog article is effective, not everyone you believe as being a proper fit for a disability policy is going to say yes based on following a version of that conversation. However, it should be known that a first objection is not a final no. 

I used to work in a call center fundraising for my alma mater while I was an undergrad, and they used to have a script and instruct us to receive three rejections before ending the call. I would say, surprisingly, that about 33%-50% of the people who said no to me on the first ask would say yes on the second or third ask. 

Now, there are obvious differences between the relationships between a caller and alumni and a planner and a client. However, through personal experience both at the call center many years ago and through talking with clients over the years, there are safe ways to push through at least the first objection of a client without souring the relationship.

In order to do so, we need to employ several tactics: demonstrating that you care by being assertive, admitting the negative ideas your client may have about continuing the conversation, asking in the negative, and providing psychological safety by giving them permission to pull the plug on the conversation. 

These techniques are a mash-up of skills and ideas taught by Harvard Negotiation Professor, Bob Mnookin, on the balance between empathy and assertiveness, former CIA lead-hostage negotiator and MasterClass expert, Chris Voss, on admitting the negative, mirroring, and labeling, and author and persuasion MasterClass expert, Dan Pink, on using loss frames.

It could look a little like this:

CFP:  It seems like you are pretty not interested. So, you are probably going to feel that I am not listening to you, am tone-deaf, and do not respect your perspective on the matter by wanting to dive in on the topic a little more. However, between it likely being the lead cause of people losing their homes, personally knowing someone whose father told him at the piano bench as an adult that the best thing that could happen to him for his mother was for the father to die in a plane crash in order to maximize the life insurance death benefit before prematurely retiring due to a disability without having a policy*, and selfishly not wanting to feel partially responsible for you not accomplishing your financial goals like affording college tuition for your children because I did not probe this conversation a little more, would you feel attacked by me or completely opposed to continuing the conversation a bit more?

Client: I am not sure that you are going to change my mind. But it seems like this is important to you, so I am willing to listen.

CFP: Thanks. I appreciate it. As much as I want to discuss why I think this is important, I do not want this to be me simply talking and you listening. I want to understand your point of view to see if there are any misunderstandings in terms of the coverage or how the policy could potentially be modified in order to fit in with your life, your personal goals, and your financial plan. Additionally, if at any time you feel like this is unproductive and that I am not listening to you, please tell me. How does that sound?

Client:  Sounds good to me. Where would you like to start?

By combining convincing data, moving anecdotes, and asserting that you want to continue the conversation because you care about them and their goals without wanting to violate their autonomy and agency in the conversation, it is hard to envision someone saying no to continuing the conversation. At the very worst, a client may respond with something to the effect of, “I appreciate that you care about protecting my personal and financial goals. However, I have already looked into disability in the past and pricing, and I am going and willing to take the gamble.”*

Even with a flat-rejection such as that, the planner-client relationship remains intact and nothing is lost. In fact, the client may feel a reinforced sense that you will go-to-bat and fight for their best interest when you see a potential crack or blind spot in their financial plan rather than rolling over and keeping quiet.

For purposes of keeping the article short, the best way forward from here will be covered in the next post and newsletter.

*Additional Notes: 

You can say the piano-bench story because it is my story. You can read more about it in the Give Your Client a Disability Kiss post. 

In addition, your client’s final rejection should indicate that they are familiar with the prices because many times people may substantially overestimate what the real price is. And it would be a shame for someone to skip on coverage because of a false idea or misconception.

We can provide help for free in 2 ways:

  • Have any specific questions about the concepts or ideas in this article series or do not think it would be a bad idea to learn more about how to have better conversations
  • Or how we can help your clients with acquiring the best life and disability policies for them

Do not hesitate to book a free consultation here.