By Larry Klein
Building trust is the most important aspect of winning new clients for financial services professionals. It is also the least understood.
A Vanguard-Spectrem study asked 3,000 investors with net worth from $100,000 to $25 million to rank the main causes for switching financial advisors.
The top three factors – all named by respondents 90 percent of the time or more – were that an advisor:
- Is honest and trustworthy.
- Provides transparency and keeps me informed.
- Has a good investment track record.
If you think that prospects buy your products and services, you are wrong. You are the product and if you want them to buy you, they need to trust you.
When I ask financial advisors and insurance professionals how they build trust, they describe a process that takes time. Typically, they tell me it’s about keeping their word by doing what they say and providing great client service. Unfortunately, you don’t have weeks or months to build trust; you need to do it instantly.
Let’s uncover how to build trust instantly so that prospects trust you even before they meet you and become clients much more rapidly.
Your Marketing Message Builds Trust
Let’s say a prospect sees my advertisement either in print or online. In the middle of reading the advertisement, the prospect thinks, “That’s exactly the way I feel; I have that exact same problem!” Have I gained trust simply by using words to identify how my prospect feels? Am I more likely to get the prospect to dial the telephone number or visit the web site in the ad? All I have done is tell the prospect, “I feel ya,” and I have gained trust before we’ve even met.
Don’t overlook the power of language. When language is used by a skilled practitioner, the speaker/writer/presenter can gain trust in minutes.
Prospects Trust Authority
Let’s consider the power of authority. I used seminars to build my business. At the end of the seminar and before soliciting appointments, I held a raffle. I told the attendees, “I’m going to collect your feedback forms and I will blindly select one and that person wins a free copy of my book.”
Immediately, some attendees form the opinion, “Wow, he wrote a book, he must be knowledgeable/famous/trustworthy/someone worth listening to…” As Dr. Tom Stanley wrote in his book Marketing to the Affluent, “writers are experts, talkers or hawkers.” In our culture, being the author of a book brings instant credibility.
I chose to conduct marketing seminars to build my power of authority.
Position Yourself as an Educator, Not a Seller
With seminars, your first opportunity to gain trust is on the seminar invitation. I always include a biography which lists my accomplishments, credentials and education, as well as the ways I have helped thousands of others. The invitation omits any word that can be construed as a “sales” word. Because salespeople are perceived as untrustworthy in our culture, I make sure to distance myself from that group and position myself as an educator. Again, the tool is the use of language.
At the seminar, one of the issues I discuss is the financial services industry’s “dirty laundry.” Specifically, I show attendees several hidden costs of owning mutual funds which their financial advisor has never mentioned. Those not accustomed to analyzing buyer psychology might think that I have destroyed my chances of selling mutual funds to audience members. On the contrary, I am now the only person the attendees will ever trust to sell them mutual fund shares. Why? Because I have disclosed the truth that others in my industry have not.
Here is another example of gaining trust by speaking against one’s own interest. In his book, Influence, the Power of Persuasion, Robert Cialdini tells of Vincent the waiter who dissuades guests at his table from ordering a particular dish. He says that, “Waiters such as Vincent will gain our trust by seeming to argue against their own interests — by recommending a cheaper dish or bottle of wine.”
To gain trust, say less. Imagine meeting prospects for the first time. You may think you gain trust by illustrating how much you know, which leads to a lot of talking. In fact, people judge your trustworthiness by the questions you ask. When you ask insightful, thought- provoking questions that no professional has previously asked them, it causes prospects to develop trust and respect for you.
Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy analyzes this very issue and has made the following conclusions:
- Professionals erroneously believe that competence is more important to display then warmth (trust). After all, they want to prove that they are smart and talented enough to handle your business.
- But in fact, warmth, or trustworthiness, is the most important factor in how people evaluate you.
Easily-Implemented Tactics to Build Trust Rapidly
Any respectable marketer has a method to:
- Get prospects to respond to an offer and enter their database.
- Drip on the prospect to gain credibility and trust (your pipeline).
- Convert the prospect to the client.
The process of dripping on a client can be easily automated with a newsletter. Make sure that newsletter gets delivered every 30 days, as sending one less frequently is not enough to build a reputation. The frequency of this contact, by itself, builds trust.
Be sure that everything you communicate includes your picture. When people see you, they feel that they know you. And when they know you, they are more likely to trust you.
Larry Klein is the publisher of Wealthy Producer. Larry may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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