Many advisers I have spoken to over the past six months are frustrated they’re not closing as many new prospects during this unique time in history. They believe prospects are just “stuck.” People seem to be waiting for something to happen before they make a move. Some say they are waiting for a vaccine to come out, or for the election, or for some other catalyst that will allow them to feel comfortable making a change from what they’re currently doing.
Nine times out of 10, the reason these advisers are not gaining traction with these potential clients is that they are leading with investments.
After introductions and some friendly banter, many advisers feel the need to pull out their pitch decks or their Callen charts. Unfortunately, within seconds, they sound like every other adviser this prospect has already met. Within minutes, the prospects eyes start to glaze over.
So how do you approach a first meeting differently, and therefore improve your prospect closing ratio?
First, be relatable. One of the most important lessons I have learned is that clients want someone who is real and transparent on a personal level, not salespeople who show them canned pitch decks. Clients want you to listen to them, but they also want to know about you. They want you to share your personal story and hear about struggles you have had to overcome. They want to be able to have a real connection. So, let that happen.
Here’s an example of how to do that: “You may be wondering how I got into this business and why I am uniquely qualified to help you with your financial planning” … Then tell your story.
Your story should reveal some difficult or personal lessons you’ve learned along the way. Make sure to show them you’ve made it through, successfully. You want your prospects to see you as an “overcomer.” Overcoming, in spite of one’s circumstances, is always applauded and appreciated.
It’s also important to keep in mind that telling your personal story will work against you if all you focus on are your industry accolades; it only works when you exhibit humility.
Once you’ve established rapport and have revealed some important lessons you’ve learned along the way, you can start to ask your prospects a few questions about them and then bring it around to their financial situation. Instead of talking about their investment portfolio, lead with a discussion around risk management and risk tolerance. Why? Because in human psychology, the fear of loss is a far greater driver than the opportunity for gain. I found this especially true for wealthy people.
I have created more than two dozen questions that focus on risk management topics, including the titling of their financial accounts and their automobiles and their rental properties. Do they have teenage drivers driving cars in their names? How much umbrella liability insurance do they have? I would ask them if they have updated their medical powers of attorney.
These questions actually point out potential pitfalls that could occur as a result of not getting those financial details taken care of. Most people typically have numerous risk management issues, which I point out could expose them to potential lawsuits. By asking these questions, I am demonstrating my value before they even hire me.
Once I finish with the risk discussion, I focus on their estate planning documents.
Keep in mind that you should never ask for them for these documents in advance. Wait until they become a client. Why? Because if you see their estate planning documents, the clients would assume you had already reviewed them and your strategy would be ineffective.
The key takeaway is this. You can turn a new prospect into a new client without ever discussing their investment portfolio. In fact, I personally have never used a Callan chart or an investment pitch deck in a prospect meeting.
If you want to improve your ability to close potential clients faster and at a higher rate, stop leading with a discussion of investments.
My experience and the experiences of other advisers that I coach showthat you’ll see an immediate interest from your prospects, and you’ll love the outcome you receive.
Erin Botsford is a 30-year veteran of the profession. She now runs the Elite Advisor Success System and Spend the Day Mastermind programs. You can discover more information about her mission here.