How much harder is it dealing with a client or prospective client when they clearly have all their barriers up? And we know that even those that don't come across as overtly guarded still may have some reservations or fears that would prevent them from engaging at a deep-enough level to allow us provide real value to them.
They might be worried about potential conflict or confrontation from negotiation or conflict because the raised an objection. They may simply be looking to avoid being pushed into a sales process that might end up with them getting the wrong thing or paying more that they might need to.
In any of these situations our best strategy will be to start with an immediate positive response of some kind. Let's try to put the other person at ease right away by communicating instantly that this interaction won't be confrontational. Give them a chance to collaborate with you to ensure they end up with the right information.
I get it though, I do. After you've been in your role for a while, you have figured out all the different steps to be taken or hoops to be jumped through to get an approval or an account opened for someone. Maybe you've been burned a time or two by going down the path to serve someone, only to get the rug pulled out from under you when they are missing something that you needed to finish things off. It's important to remember though that real service is taking the time to understand WHY they are asking for something, not just WHAT they are asking for. If we focus our initial end of the conversation with application requirements or product restrictions, are we really encouraging the person across from us to tell us their story?
Develop the Positive Response Reflex
Start with immediately letting them know you're on it. Without committing yourself to a final solution, indicate you'd be happy to help them (get a process started; get them the information they need; help them to be sure they’re getting the best value..). Maybe communicate that other people we've helped have been really happy with what we've been able to do. Then ask some questions to make it interactive and show you genuinely care about understanding their needs/situation/dissatisfaction. After the positive response, and getting a meaningful conversation started, THEN we can start getting into the business details.
“Absolutly, let me get you the person that can get you all the information you need”
“I’d be happy to help you with that. Have you been looking around for investment options for a while?”
“No problem. I can understand you want to be sure you’re making the best choice here…”
“Awesome, we love talking to people that are considering us to be their Financial Institution. If I can ask, what brought you to want to come and check us out?”
Bonus Tip: Avoid adding a “but…” after your positive response as it will only serve to put the person you are talking to right back behind their barriers.