Which one of the following phrases do you usually find yourself saying in a first meeting with a prospective client?
“Let me tell you about my firm.”
“How may I serve you today?”
“ What would you like to accomplish in our time together today?”
“Tell me about your goals and concerns.”
“ Here’s a great product with guaranteed income that grows at X percent.”
You have probably already noticed that the first and last phrase stand out from the others. They put the focus on the advisor’s agenda. The other questions put the focus squarely on the prospective client’s agenda.
Now ask yourself a couple of questions: Do you want to sound like an advisor/consultant, or do you want to sound like a salesperson? Which person would a client rather hire?
The simple truth
The real key in any sales profession is to always be client-centric. Always put the client at the center of the discussion. It’s the key to converting over 90 percent of your prospects into loyal clients. We’re there to work on their agenda, not our own. As amazing as it sounds, most in our profession, and in all sales professions, don’t truly recognize this simple truth. They constantly focus on what they can provide, rather than what the client wants and needs.
Which hat do you wear?
If you can train yourself to wear an “advisor” hat instead of a “sales” hat, you’ll stand out from the crowd. What should the advisor hat look like? A true advisor asks a lot of questions about what a client wants to achieve in retirement. How can we actually offer recommendations without first learning about our client’s desires and goals? That would be like going on trip to a new place without directions.
I have a good rule of thumb for the initial client interview. If I’m talking more than the client, something is amiss. That meeting should be all about them. And people like to talk, especially to good listeners. Clients will be naturally drawn to you, because you “get it.” You know how to speak in your client’s language, and you know how to help your client get what he or she wants.
In my opinion, one of the great business books of all time is Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” Its truths are quite simple. Help people get what they want, and you’ll be super successful in any endeavor. Your clients aren’t meeting with you so you can get what you want; they’re there because they want and need someone to help them live their ideal retirement lifestyle.
It’s not about you. It’s about your client’s needs and desires.
Jim Brogan is president and founder of Brogan Financial in Knoxville, Tenn. He was named Senior Market Advisor’s 2011 Advisor of the Year.