Back to the future
NASA’s recent triumphant return to the Martian surface was met with great fanfare and fervor. Scientists were able to drop a roving spacecraft the size of a Winnebago directly to the surface of Mars via steel cables –completely undamaged and functional. I can’t even get into Costco without a door ding.
The irony of this 21st century accomplishment is that the “new and improved” spacecraft used the same rocket design that sent us to the moon the first time in 1969. And they told us only clothes came back in fashion. In this age of retro recycling, everything old is new again or at least in vogue.
One only has to visit a neighborhood garage sale to gain a glimpse of living history. Where else can eight track tapes, Atari PONG systems and Sony Betamax machines sit side by side all competing as the entertainment system with the shortest life span?
Books are also a treasure trove at your neighbor’s junk fest. I recently came across the 1966 masterpiece Selling Securities Successfully. It was jammed between the tattered Danielle Steel novels and the 1995 version of the classic, “500 Funds You Must Buy Now!”1 (Thank goodness most of us didn’t!)
Selling Securities Successfully, written by Leo Fleur, is a “how to” for the brokers of the day. In addition to instructing advisors (always men) on techniques for properly training their secretaries (always women), there are topics such as interviewing, prospecting and presenting – pretty standard stuff. However, the best chapter provides the reader deliciously detailed instructions on how to deal with the top objections of the day.2 Wow, secrets on sale! I was expecting objections in the age of Bewitched and The Beatles to be different, profound, and if nothing else, memorable. After reading them, sadly I realized, I should have stayed with Danielle.
It has often been stated that there are no new objections. While that’s an easy thing to say in the midst of 21st century investing, who knew it was already true in 1965? All of the top concerns listed back then are the exact ones we hear today. There was the timeless “I have no time” line. Right, this coming from a crowd that didn’t have email, cell phones or five hundred TV channels and nothing to watch. Then, there was the ageless “I’ll wait for the rates to go up.” Here’s a News flash: They did, and then promptly fell to historic lows. But the “hindsight is always 20/20″ award goes to the classic “I can’t invest now – the market is too high.” Easy to say when the Dow crosses 800. We all should have been so reckless.
Apparently, objections are not only good, but immortal. Like the Energizer Bunny, they keep going and going. Why good? It’s simple: they let you know that a customer is actually engaged. People don’t buy things that they don’t question. While objections may never change, the people asking them do. We must be prepared with the right response to those most frequently asked questions. Most importantly, responding to our clients with respect and empathy is a more powerful reply than the actual answer itself.
Most of us already know what to say. It’s how we say it that constantly needs practice. Like NASA, sometimes we just need to step back and take a look at what brought us here and only modify appropriately. It is said that experience and practice are no match for theory.
Objections, like our quest for knowledge, may never change, but the people asking them, and particularly those of us answering them, always will.
John Harrell is a Bank Channel Specialist for Russell’s private client services business.
1Lead article in Money Magazine
2Fleur, Leo. Selling Securities Successfully. (Prentice-Hall, 1966)
Winnebago is a brand of Winnebago Industries, Costco Wholesale Corporation is a Washington corporation, Pong® is a registered trademark of Atari Interactive, Betamax® is a registered trademark of Sony Corporation, Bewitched is an American sitcom (1964-1972) presently distributed by Sony Pictures Television, and Energizer Bunny® is a registered trademark of Energizer; all are used in this presentation for illustrative purposes only.
This post is used with permission from SparksFly Inc.