September 25, 2012

How to Communicate With Prospects, and How Not

Let prospects come to know the real you; you won’t regret it

I was thinking recently about my earliest days working in the financial services industry. My mentor was a brilliant guy who taught me much. He also had a "pitch book." This book was full of charts, graphs and various other visual aids intended to support or convey a particular thesis.

I immediately seized the opportunity and copied each and every page of his book and proceeded to use it with prospective clients. What I didn't understand at the time was that charts and graphs are not particularly effective at persuading people to hire you. In fact, I found more often than not, they confuse people. And a confused person is less likely to make a decision. Now, 25 years later, I rarely go into all the minutiae I once did. And that leads me to my topic this week, communicating with prospective clients.

A few weeks ago, on a Monday, I received two calls from two different prospects. I had spoken with one of them in the past. The other found me through a Google search. Last week, one of these transferred their account to me while the other is still in decision mode. The sticking point with the latter person centers on their need to understand, or I should say, trust my character.

Don't misunderstand, I have done nothing to give this person a reason to question my character. But when a person like this speaks to their friends about their impending decision, and tells them that they found me on Google, well, it's not exactly a personal referral. The kind of trust I am talking about is developed over time and is partly dependent on how easily this person trusts others. In this case, they have had a few "issues" with other advisors over the years—a not uncommon occurrence. It's these "issues" that damage our industry. This is why I have been so adamant over the years about being honest....at all times!

There are certainly a lot of charlatans out there in every profession. And whenever a consumer is burned by the unethical behavior of someone they once trusted, it makes it more difficult for them to trust in the future. That's normal human behavior.

My point is this: Charts and graphs do not convince people. Let them see the real you. No pretense. No falsehoods. Don't try to be someone you're not. Just let them see into the real you—however you choose to do that. And more important, let them see that you care for them!

In the interest of our profession, always put the interests of the client ahead of your own. If you will do this, you will never lack for business.

Take care and have a great week!

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