The FCA, compliance people and file checkers all talk vociferously about eliciting client needs. You must stimulate a client need; a critical need has to be found before you can advise, and these form the basis of your suitability letter to justify your advice.
That's the compliance piece over with, now onto selling. And if "selling" scares you and sends you into convulsions, then look away. For those that want to have a successful mortgage broking business, then carry on reading.
It's all about needs.
I get that, always have. I also know from years of experience that clients will not always buy just because a need has been uncovered.
They will if they want it. Here are six tips and skills to turn a client need into a client want, to create a desire for a need that you've carefully and knowledgeably revealed. Especially vital when selling protection plans. Most clients realise they have a need; making this a want will ensure they buy the plans you recommend.
- Many mortgage brokers "sell" the finance option or solution they have come up with. This is sensible, but it may encourage the client to go it alone once they know the solution. If the advice is a level term assurance plan, the client can very easily and without remorse buy it online later that day, at a lower headline price. Instead, you must focus on yourself and your firm and sell this earlier on—build trust and recognition of your capabilities and the benefits of working with them.
- Signposting is an elegant sales skill that involves the adviser stating to the client where they are in the process and what would be the next steps. The mere act of guiding the client along the advising or sales process is often enough to propel the client to take action. Once trust is created, leading the client along is surprisingly effective.
- Find out very early what the client's motivation to take advice is. Why are they wanting protection or a mortgage? What's the driver, their hot buttons. Don't assume just because you're incredibly qualified; they will want to buy your advice; find this motivation out first.
- You may have a sales process, and you should too. But more importantly, your client will have a process to follow when they buy something. Everyone does whatever you buy. The bigger ticket the item the client is buying; the more precise they stick to their buying process. Ask them what this is early. "How did you buy your last mortgage?" or "When you're in the market for something that requires careful thought, what steps do you go through?"
- The client might need your advice, logic shouts out, and the exams you passed confirm it. They have to have it; it makes sense. But the client doesn't want to buy it. There's a concern, a problem that is bugging the client. Clients are not decisive for one of four reasons – they don't trust you or your firm, they don't think it will work, they don't want to pay the money for it, or they don't want it right now. However you look at it, every client concern boils down to one of these. You know this, so build into your sales process steps to pre-empt these problems before they become so. For example, if you sell second charge loans and you charge a 6% fee, bring this up early, deal with it and close the door before it becomes a problem later because it will.
- Don't give your client free information and leave them to it. Some will be happy to take it and buy it themselves. If I had a dollar for every time I've seen mortgage advisers giving free information to clients for nothing in return, I'd be a millionaire. Instead, ask for commitment all the way through your sales process. Liberally use test closes "how does that sound?", "what do you think of that?".
Every now and then, especially when you're giving free information, get their commitment that they will buy from you shortly or later. Don't be afraid to ask, "I'll let you know all about this product, but if you feel it suits you, would you be in a position to go ahead today?". We call this a pre-close or vicar close (ask me why later). Remember, if the client needs your advice, would benefit from it, and it would make a massive difference to their financial plans, then sell it.
No adviser has ever been pulled up by the regulators for doing that, so try and clear it in your head to do so.
For every need, turn up the Desire and make it into a want. You'll be able to buy more food for your kids if you do.