Do Your Prospects Procrastinate? Here’s How to End It


procrastinateWould you like to close more sales and close them faster? Then my experiments over the last 20 years as to why prospects do and don’t buy will interest you.  Most of what they tell you at the insurance company, insurance agency or investment firm about closing business does not work.  In fact, it leads to more prospect procrastination.
This is what they teach you:

1. Use a fact-finder to learn about the prospect’s situation and ask the right questions
2. Explain the prospect the features and benefits of your product that fit their circumstances
3. Add an element of urgency (e.g. the insurance premium increases if you wait)
4. Close the sale

When you understand what’s wrong with the above approach, you’ll see the easy changes you can make for a significant increase in sales results.

Use a fact-finder
The fact-finder provided to you by a financial services firm is off the mark. It probes for facts about the prospect’s life such as the ages of their children. Once you learn that they have a child that is eight years old, you’re supposed to talk about your college funding products and services. But your prospect may have no interest in this for several reasons:

• Maybe the grandparent will fund college
• Maybe he does not think his child will go to college
• Maybe he’s not concerned and figures his child will get aid or attend an     affordable community college

Where fact-finders fall short is that they don’t inquire about the prospects desires. The prospect’s need is irrelevant as nobody buys what they need; they buy what they desire. Let these words never leave your lips again “I ask questions to determine prospects’ needs.”  Repeat three time to yourself,  “What the prospect needs is irrelevant, the prospects buys what they WANT.”

So if you’re probing to determine if the prospect will buy your college-funding solution, the question you really want to ask is, “How to you feel about funding your child’s education? Does the potential cost of $200,000+ worry you?” If there is no worry, then don’t pitch college funding products and services. (Note—if you think that your prospect should be worried, there is a way to educate them but it’s not by telling them the facts about college affordability. We will cover client education in another post.

Here’s the point—the fact-finders you use uncover logical needs but everyone buys emotionally.  So you need an emotional fact-finder. Start asking questions about how people feel and what they desire.

Explain the features and benefits of your product

The only feature or benefit of your product that counts are the ones your client cares about. Soon, I will purchase a new car. There are only two things I care about:

1) I want a car that gets high gas mileage because I don’t want to poison the air for your grandchildren and I don’t want to send any money to oil-producing countries that breed terrorists.
2) I need to carry a lot of stuff when I shop a Lowes

Everything else about the car is irrelevant—it does not need to look cool, be a status symbol or have a powerful engine—all of the things that car sales people want to tell me about.  All they need to do is ask me what’s important to me and tell me only that, nothing more.

Just as important is when the benefits of your product occur. People are not interested in future benefits but that’s mostly what you discuss (the death benefit, the payoff during retirement, the payoff when illness occurs, etc). People care about the payoff today, not what they get in 30 years. In other words, people buy because:

1) They feel better right now if they get the item
2) They feel smarter
3) They feel more responsible

People buy because it makes them feel good to do so, they get an immediate payoff. If you sell the immediate payoff rather than the future payoff, you close more sales and prospects won’t procrastinate because they like to feel good now.

Don't Try and Close With Urgency
This typically makes the prospect feel pressured, not motivated. You need to address the prospect’s “caveman” gene, their biological mechanism to procrastinate. In fact, you can tell the prospect about the caveman gene when you see them hesitate.

We evolved from cavemen and we were programmed to stay in our cave for safety. To leave the cave risked getting eaten by lions and tigers and bears. So we stayed in the cave until we were compelled to leave—to avoid starvation. We quickly left the cave, killed our food, and scurried back. We are programmed only to take action if we are very uncomfortable. Our brain still thinks that if we take any action, it’s dangerous so it continually tells us to do nothing unless we are starving or experiencing great discomfort. So your brain feeds you the constant message to maintain the status quo where you are safe (stay in the cave where you are safe).  Make no changes (i.e. don’t buy anything).

Given that your caveman gene has operated all of your life, do you think this has caused you to miss opportunities? Do you agree that this (product or service) makes logical sense and you hesitate but really don’t know why? That’s the caveman gene running your life. Would you like to do what’s right rather then continue to succumb to a motivation that no longer applies because there are no lions, tigers or bears to harm you?

Change these elements of your presentation and have much more success:

• Stop asking situational questions (what are the ages of your children) and ask emotional questions (are you worried about the funding for your child to go to a  good school?)
• Sell the current payoff and not some future financial benefit
• Don’t attempt to create urgency but rather undermine the prospect’s natural reaction to procrastinate



  1. I think that what you said made a great deal
    of sense. But, think about this, suppose you added a little information?

    I mean, I don't want to tell you how to run your website, but suppose you added something that makes people desire more? I mean Do Your Prospects Procrastinate? Here’s How to End It | Financial Services Marketing for Top Producers is kinda vanilla. You might peek at Yahoo's front page
    and note how they create post headlines to grab people to click.
    You might try adding a video or a pic or two to grab people interested about everything've written. In my opinion, it could bring your blog a little bit more interesting.

  2. OMG- This could have been written in the seventies. Still selling features and benefits? WOW. Go to Youtube and watch some Jeffry Gitomer videos and come join us in the new millenium.

  3. […] Buyers are born procrastinators and are reluctant to buy in order to maintain their status quo. Adding any sort of stress to the buyer’s decision will keep him from buying but poorly-trained sales people do this. (Automobile sales people commonly ask “how soon do you need a car” as a way to gain the leverage of time pressure). How often does this pressuring the prospect work? Rarely, because you simply make the prospect feel pushed and uncomfortable which feeds right into their resistance to change. This reaction is biological. […]


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