By GUY BAKER
The stakes are always high during the first meeting with a potential client. You have limited time to build trust and generate interest while demonstrating that the knowledge you bring to the table is unique and valuable. Before you head into your next prospect meeting, arm yourself with a simple plan to grab their attention from the start, identify their pain points and prove that your specific skillset and expertise is essential to their financial success.
Set The Stage
Go into your first prospect meeting “unarmed” and undistracted by leaving your briefcase and phone in the car. You’ll pay more attention to the person you’re meeting and it’ll set you apart from other advisors. It can put prospects at ease and quickly earn their trust since they won’t be expecting you to pull out any forms or contracts.
I like to start the meeting by establishing common ground and asking if I can share an observation from years of working with successful business owners like themselves. I tell them I’ve learned that there is one thing everyone I talk to has in common: they create a financial “plan by design” early on in their careers, but they are so busy being successful, they don’t have time to think about the impact changing laws and regulations have on their plan. It quickly becomes difficult to maintain their original plan, and they eventually find themselves with a “plan by default.” Unfortunately, the default plan has a hefty price tag.
After the prospect agrees with this observation, I ask them if their current plan is one that’s by design or by default. Most will chuckle and admit that their current plan wasn’t their original and it’s not the most economically efficient.
Now take a step back to evaluate their current plan and re-align on the objectives they hope to accomplish — these could range from business succession and estate planning, to retaining key principals at their company. Your goal is to pinpoint where they have room for improvement in their current plan, then build upon that with economic modeling to help them achieve their “plan by design.”
Don’t move forward without doing what 50-year MDRT member Bruce Etherington teaches and seal the “deal before the deal.” Ask your prospect: if you can show them how they can reach their objectives more effectively and efficiently, will they work with you? Some advisors skip this step since they worry this question will cause the prospect to answer no. But most people appreciate the transparency and will give you an honest answer. You then have their word that, if you can show them areas of improvement, they’ll move forward in working with you. This shows that you’re serious about finding a solution, provides an added layer of security and trust to your relationship and guarantees you aren’t wasting each other’s time.
Show The Problem, Then The Solution
Throughout this process of evaluating their current plan, they’ll most likely realize there’s a deficit that needs to be fixed. Many advisors make the mistake of providing the solution to the problem before the prospect is ready to hear it, but it’s important to allow them to reach this realization on their own time. Wait until they admit they have no good answer and ask you several times what your advice is before you lay out your solution. They’ll be more open and receptive to your recommendations, and after hearing your advice, should be ready to move forward in working together. If there is hesitation, remind them of the “deal before the deal” and dig deeper to discover their trepidation and provide a solution.
By following this process, you’ll help your potential client recognize their problem and seek a solution on their own time, building client trust. You’ll also help convince them that your expertise is vital to their financial success and that by not working with you, they would be passing on an opportunity to improve their financial future. As your meeting draws to a close, the next step is simple: schedule a second meeting for you and your new client to begin implementing their plan by design.
Guy Baker has over 50 years of experience in the financial services industry and has qualified for MDRT 49 times; he is one of only 20 to qualify more than 42 times for the Top of the Table. In 2010, Guy served as the organization’s 84th President. In Guy’s recent book, “Why People Buy,” he details the seven step seller’s process, the four step buyer’s process and how to integrate them.