Why Aren’t You Closing?

by Certified Coach Alissa Gauger, MBA

Do you remember when you learned in Sales School that, in general, you need to process about 500 Qualified Suspects to generate 150 Fact Finders in order to attain 50 New Clients. I have a feeling you do!

When you consider how much work goes into getting that New Client sitting with you in the close, isn’t it understandable that for many Financial Representatives, the close is fraught with anxiety, pressure and fear? 

Here are the common issues that come up:

If I don’t close I will lose my practice. How will I pay my bills?!

I don’t have enough credentials/designations/education/training to close.

I can’t find a joint work partner.

I keep running out of time and needing a third meeting.

I don’t like closing.

Let’s start with the first one: “If I don’t close I will lose my practice. How will I pay my bills?!” Many FRs feel like the close is a judgement on their work or a vote by the client. This results in a feeling of high pressure and a sense of “do or die.” Where is your attention when you are worried about your bills? On yourself or on the client? Do you see how it has shifted from the client onto you, your needs, your bills, your client builder? You, you, you. Is this fair to your client? Stop and take a deep breath. Here is yet another opportunity to manage your “fight or flight” response a.k.a the Lizard. Take another deep breath. Remind yourself that everything is going to be okay. You are perfectly fine in this moment. Next, scan your body and notice how it feels when you are thinking that the attention is on YOU. The client is judging you, deciding if your work is good enough or if you are wearing the right suit. Notice how your body reacts! Many people notice a tightening of the chest, shortness of breath, a pit in their stomach and all kinds of reactions. Now, scan your body and notice how it feels when you are focusing your attention on the CLIENT. You are helping to make their dreams a reality, reducing their risk and giving them security. How does that feel?

Whenever you are in a close, focus on giving attention, not getting attention.

What happens if you feel like “I don’t have enough credentials/designations/education/training to close.” There is some truth to this. However, should this be a road block? Are you telling yourself you have to do everything yourself, that no one else will do it “right” or you might lose a client? Examine your beliefs around this to determine if you are, in fact, stunting your growth by trying to be a lone wolf. Find colleagues who you respect and learn from them while you study and take exams. Every single person at Northwestern Mutual has a unique path. Working with others at Northwestern Mutual is part of the journey.

Speaking of working with others, “I can’t find a joint work partner” is something that might be holding you back. Maybe you can’t get on the local rock star’s calendar or you haven’t found someone who you feel is a good fit with your style. Perhaps you are concerned that your case won’t close unless you find that “perfect” partner. Now is the time in your career to get out there and learn from everyone you can. Watch and learn from as many joint work partners as you can. Proactively seek them out, get to know them, and learn from them. If you are putting a lot of pressure on these meetings, do a Lizard check. If cases are falling through, might it be your own fearful, grasping energy? Take care of yourself so that you can be relaxed and confident with everyone you work with.

Conversely, maybe you are an experienced FR who would like joint work partners but does not have enough. Volunteer your time to do talks, mentor and offer up your expertise. Increase your visibility by giving your knowledge away in the beginning until you become a highly sought-after joint work partner.

“I keep running out of time and needing a third meeting,” is another reason that closes get bumped out and delayed. Notice how passive it is to “run out of time.” Are you leading your meetings? Stay focused on the priorities and be realistic about what can be accomplished in one meeting. If you have a client with a lot of needs, break it up into two meetings and get apps filled out in both. If you are being led instead of leading, odds are good that you have a limiting belief operating in your mind. Might it be fear that your recommendations will be rejected…or, worse, you and your expertise aren’t "good enough?" Maybe you feel you must continue to “earn their business” and prove yourself. It could be your own money fears creeping in. Get honest about why you are “running out of time” and face those thoughts. Challenge them. Are they true?

“I don’t like closing.” Okay, fair enough. Many FRs report that they enjoy learning about the client and preparing recommendations. But then they feel a terrible ick in the close. They feel like a “greasy salesman.” In this case, notice that the meeting has become about YOU again. The client has spent time meeting with you, answering questions, sending you documents. After all that you are going to clam up and not help them put their plan into action? Who is that about? Refocus on the purpose of the close: to help the client. The beauty of your work is that you get paid to help people. Focus on the helping part and watch the ick disappear.

You deserve to close. Your clients want to get their lives squared away and move on. Keep breathing and enjoy the close. You earned it and can feel proud that every close means that you left a client better than you found them.