Pro Tips

Overcoming Prospect Indecision and Delays

by Tiffany Markarian

One of the many challenges financial advisors face is dealing with prospect indecision and delays. Despite the importance of financial planning, prospects often delay taking the next steps. In this article, we’ll delve into several reasons behind a prospect’s delay and how advisors can address these roadblocks effectively.

It’s Not Just Closing Skills

It would be great if every new prospect moved forward with the process, but that’s not always the case. Financial advisors must respect a prospect’s desire for information, empathy and understanding, and being allowed to go through their own assessment process.

Can you shorten the decision-making cycle? Yes. If you have a motivated prospect who is ready and fully bought in to your process. But what if your prospect goes silent or procrastinates?

Oftentimes, it’s not just closing skills that are the problem. It’s usually something that occurs earlier in the process.

Lack of Clear Understanding or Discovery

Prospect indecision or delays often occur when there is a clear lack of understanding, or the prospect feels the advisor is not relating to them. The main job of an advisor is to ask the right questions.

Financial planning is not just an economic process – it’s an emotional one. The goal is to get people to emote and uncover what is truly important to them.

Too many advisors focus their initial meetings rambling on about their firm, process, products, or services as a way to establish value. Your initial meetings should be about discovery. If the prospect feels you don’t understand their objectives, uncertainties, or aspirations, this can lead to a lack of motivation.

HOW TO ADDRESS: Focus on listening vs. talking. The goal is to be more curious about your prospect, so they become more curious about you. Consider using questions such as:

  • What are 3 things you want to make sure I cover in today’s meeting?
  • What do you wish was different with your day-to-day finances?
  • Are there any major life events or changes on the horizon?
  • Are there other decision makers we need to include in this process?
  • What are 3 things you wish were different with your current advisor?
  • What is your current financial situation…if you don’t mind me asking?
  • What are you most proud of in your life? What is the next goal you have for yourself, business, or family?
  • What legacy do you want to leave?
  • Are there any situations that may delay or prevent you from taking action on these important goals?

Overwhelm, Fear and Complexity

For some prospects, the sheer complexity of their financial situation or fear of the unknown can be overwhelming – especially for those unfamiliar with complex financial concepts. The intricacies of investments, taxes, insurance, and retirement planning can leave them feeling paralyzed. They may also have had a bad experience with a previous advisor or agent.

Advisors will seek to educate prospects to demonstrate their value, but all too often, their explanations become laden with technical jargon, which leaves the prospect more confused.

HOW TO ADDRESS: Slow down. Provide explanations in layman’s terms not a diatribe of product features. Share relevant stories of similar clients and the outcomes you created for them. Translate how a concept solves their objectives, and avoid overusing charts, graphs, or statistics, which can put people on overload. Share simple next steps to help them move forward.

Cost and Budget Concerns

Financial planning comes with costs and investments. Prospects may worry about affordability, changing their spending habits, or feeling obligated to invest significant sums.

Some may question the value of your advice, particularly if you are dealing with a self-directed investor. If you are a Fee-Based or Fee-Only advisor, and you describe your value solely in terms of fee planning or fiduciary, your prospect may lock in on your fee vs. your value.

HOW TO ADDRESS: Focus on the outcomes your prospect is seeking. Demonstrate how you will help organize their financial life so they can focus on other things. Discuss how they can set a good example for their children or grandchildren or live life with less stress and worry in retirement.

Be transparent in your pricing and keep your explanations simple. Depending on your business model, offer various service levels that cater to different budgets to help alleviate cost concerns.

Effective Closing Techniques

Prospect indecision can occur when there is lingering confusion or the advisor has not fully addressed the real issues going on. This can often come to light when trying to close the prospect.

Effective closing techniques are essential for financial advisors to convert prospects into clients or move them to the next step in the process.

By employing closing techniques throughout the process, you can often bring to light additional concerns that have not yet been discussed. At the very least, you will gauge if the prospect is truly serious about moving forward.

HOW TO ADDRESS: Closing techniques you might consider include:

  1. Needs-Based Close: Remind the prospect of their financial needs and the objectives they shared earlier in the discussion. Emphasize how your proposed solutions align with addressing their needs and the positive outcomes they want in their life.
  2. Risk Mitigation Close: Ask your prospect to share any concerns they have regarding your proposed investment or strategy. Provide  explanations of how you’ve designed these strategies to help minimize risks and maximize their potential gains and opportunities.
  3. Customization Close: Highlight the tailored nature of your recommendations specific to their needs. Emphasize how you’ve created a plan that’s unique to their circumstances. This can increase their confidence in moving forward.
  4. Comparison Close: Compare the benefits of your recommended solution(s) with other alternatives they might be considering. Clearly demonstrate how your approach offers distinct advantages.
  5. Timeline Close: Discuss the optimal timing for them to start investing or taking care of insurance needs. Explain how delaying these actions might mean missing out on potential returns or opportunities in their financial plan.
  6. Family Security Close: If applicable, discuss the impact of their financial decisions on their family’s future security. This can create a sense of responsibility and urgency to take action.
  7. Emotional Close: Appeal to your prospect’s emotions by discussing how the investment or strategy aligns with their desired lifestyle, financial security, aspirations, and values.
  8. Collaborative Close: Present any strategies as a collaborative effort. Share how you will work together to achieve their objectives. State the things you will be doing on their behalf and what you need from them as a next step.
  9. Confirmation Close: Summarize the key points of your proposed work together and ask for confirmation that they understand and agree with the plan. This reaffirms their commitment and helps clarify any lingering doubts.
  10. Curiosity Close: Be clear on what will be covered in the next meeting or step in the process. Make sure it includes something the prospect said they definitely want to learn more about. Then, ask for a date and time that works for the next meeting. 
  11. Trial Close: Ask a trial closing question throughout the process to gauge your prospect’s readiness to move forward. For example, you might say, “If we could address your concerns, would you be comfortable proceeding with this investment or strategy?”
  12. Next Steps Close: Always make sure you schedule the next meeting before you end your discussion – even if it is a simple 15-minute check in. The last thing you want to have happen is playing phone tag trying to book the next meeting. Once out of sight, you risk being out of mind.

When Your Prospect Procrastinates or Goes Silent

Prospect indecision and taking the next steps can be daunting, especially if the prospect feels it will take too much time, expense, or effort. Life’s distractions can further contribute to delays.

HOW TO ADDRESS: Most advisors employ gentle reminder emails such as “checking in” or “following up.” The problem with these messages is they are often ambiguous and can cause further procrastination. Instead, focus on the next steps your prospect agreed to and ask for an update. In your email subject line, reference what your prospect was supposed to do, such as:

EMAIL SUBJECT LINE: “Investment Statements – Update Please”

If your prospect agreed to upload their portfolio statements or W2 forms and has not gotten back to you, you have the right to ask for an update. Your email should bring them back to the desired outcomes they discussed with you. For instance, you might say:

“To keep moving forward with your action plan for a stable income, kindly let me know when we will receive the investment statements we discussed last week. We have prepared our team to begin the next steps on your investment analysis and income projections to maintain your lifestyle. These statements are needed to officially begin. Please advise and thank you. We are here for you.”

This keeps your prospect focused on their desired outcomes and emphasizes the expectation you are waiting for them. It plays to their sense of honor.


When dealing with prospect indecision, the goal is not to pressure them. You want them to make an informed choice that aligns with their aspirations and needs. Addressing your prospects’ emotional motivations and fears creates an environment that encourages them to take action.

Each prospect is unique and what motivates one person may not resonate with another. Adapt your approach based on their individual preferences and circumstances to increase your chances of them moving forward.

Tiffany MarkarianOvercoming Prospect Indecision and Delays

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