Don’t get caught off guard. Deal with the unpredictable.


Today’s guest post is by Don Connelly, a seasoned coach to financial advisors with 45+ years experience in the financial services industry.

What does “thinking on your feet” really mean for financial advisors?

Idioms aren’t meant to be taken literally. For anyone learning English, it must be disconcerting to hear that it’s raining cats and dogs outside. You and I know it’ll rain cats and dogs when pigs fly.

‘Think on your feet’ is just an idiom.

10138577965_aaa90be96a_mEvery Financial Advisor knows what it means to think and speak without special preparation. Being forced to think this way is neither fun nor comfortable. And it can lead to an awkward moment. We all wait for the train wreck when a speaker who is dependent on a teleprompter wanders off course. We all wander off course at one time or another.

Perhaps you get caught by a surprise question. Perhaps your listener raises an unexpected objection. Either way, you’ve got to get the conversation back on track. When you are trying to bring a discussion to a pre-determined outcome, the need for spontaneity is an unwelcome intrusion. As the Boy Scout motto warns us: Be Prepared.

There are lots of opportunities for a Financial Advisor to be caught off guard.

The two most obvious times are when we go down the wrong road due to a false assumption and when we are faced with a sudden objection. It’s a basic life assumption that anytime there is a chance for a disaster, we better have a plan. If you are prepared for both these situations, the intrusion will be minimal.

Knowing which road to take with a potential client is a learned skill that comes with time.

There is no need to recover if you don’t go down the wrong road. The official name for this ability is declarative knowledge.

Declarative knowledge is ‘know-how.

It is THAT knowledge, knowledge you know to be true. You know THAT the capitol of the United States is Washington, DC. You know THAT Florida is humid in the summertime. You know THAT this person sitting in front of you will respond best to a particular presentation. You don’t have to assume. You know.

Procedural knowledge is how to perform a certain task, such as giving a presentation. Declarative knowledge is the diagnosis before the procedure, knowing which presentation to give.

All Advisors have procedural knowledge. Super Star Advisors have an abundance of declarative knowledge. For a lot of great information about this subject, read The Art of the Sale by Philip Delves Broughton.

Learn how to deal with objections right now, before you are once again caught off-guard.

Turn an objection into a question and answer the question. There are only three basics objections to what you have to offer; I already have an Advisor, the timing is just not right financially and I’m not interested. Every other possible objection is a variation of one of these three. Learn how to deal with these comments and practice until you are fluent.

Knowing what to do, handling objections professionally, gets you right back on track.

Being unsure of what to do, being forced to think on your feet, usually does not end up well. Do it right and it’s a piece of cake. Fail to do it right and it will cost you an arm and a leg.

Photo credit: teosaurio


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With a career spanning more than 45 years in the Financial Services industry, Don Connelly is a well-known speaker, motivator and educator for Financial Advisors. He is the founder of Don Connelly & Associates as well as the learning center Don Connelly 24/7. He is dedicated to training and coaching Financial Advisors on how to become brilliant at the basics; helping them hone their soft skills for success. Learn more at
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