By Scott F. Thompson
Being an advisor in 2021 has introduced us to countless new digital tools that allow us to optimize our client service. Although our focus on technology has grown, it’s important to remember that our most valuable tool for success remains the ability to connect.
For me, creating genuine connections has always been critical to building a strong, successful practice. The isolating effect of this pandemic has made that more of a challenge, even as we adapted to social distancing and virtual work environments.
As COVID-19 restrictions begin to lift, and we begin returning to more in-person interactions, take the opportunity to focus on cultivating connections with prospects and clients by tapping into four primary principles.
1. Use Ice Breakers
When you meet new prospects, be careful not to present yourself as a canned sales pitch. Instead, begin by asking open-ended questions that encourage conversation, rather than feel like an interrogation, such as:
• “What activities do you get to enjoy as a family?”
• “What steps prepared you for your current career?”
• “What does it take to make your vacation most memorable?”
When prospects answer, remember to really listen. These types of questions not only help break the ice – they also allow you to uncover what’s really important to your prospects. By asking the right questions, and being a good listener, you’ll learn more than you could ever expect.
2. Be Genuine
Much like your personal relationships, friendships with clients and prospects aren’t going to happen overnight. Make it a point to reach out to both current and previous clients regularly, and establish rapport by remembering your previous conversations and following up the next time you talk.
When your clients share what’s most important in their lives, such as family, vacations or future goals they would like to achieve, take note. Then the next time you see them, ask for updates.
These conversations allow you to strengthen your relationships and affords you the ability to take a step back from reiterating your sales pitch. Remember: clients don’t care about how much you know. What they really want to know is how much you care.
3. Become Their Trusted Advisor
As you develop new relationships, you’ll naturally begin to learn about your clients, and they about you. This could – and should – turn into friendship. While you don’t have to become best friends, you should be able to at least have the type of relationship where swapping holiday and birthday cards is the norm and not the exception.
Like with any friendship, the key to connecting on a personal level is to be honest. Keep in mind that this means being a real friend during both good times and bad. You should strive to check in with your clients even during difficult moments – not for business reasons, but because you care. When it comes time for referrals, clients are more likely to refer an advisor that they trust, and that they know truly cares about them.
4. Be Yourself
When building relationships with anyone, a classic piece of advice is to “be yourself.” You can build more genuine connections on shared interests and sincerity than playing a role you think people will like. For example, just because a prospect is golfer, that doesn’t mean you have to be one. By knowing who you are and being yourself, you recognize your strengths and allow your clients to learn about the real you.
The famous playwright Oscar Wilde once said: “Be yourself because everyone else is taken.” You may not be able to do what everyone else can do, but not everyone can do what you do. And that sets you and your practice apart.
About the Author
Scott F. Thompson, LUTCF has been helping his clients develop their personalized financial road map for the past 31 years. He is a lifetime member of MDRT, 12 qualifying memberships combined with 3 COT qualifications. He currently resides in Cranberry Twp., PA with his wife and daughter. During the last several years he has been sharing his motto of success, “Believe To Achieve” to agents around the globe.