The first defense is trust, which can only be overcome by gaining trust. There are really only five steps to gaining trust: propriety, intent statement, commonality, credibility and competency. We will discuss these steps over the next two months, starting here with the first two steps.

Step 1: Propriety

You must fit the situation, from the clothing you wear to the way you walk to the way you speak. For example, I read an article on a well-known character actor from the 1950s through the ’80s – he was constantly working. He was the busiest actor in Hollywood and was one of the best paid, even though most people didn’t know him by name. He said the reason for his success was that he would always audition for a show in character, whether he was playing a Hispanic, an Indian, a mob figure, an average Joe construction worker, or whatever. He went to the audition dressed and talking the part. He was dressed appropriately.

Propriety also is the way we speak. You must practice your presentations over and over, just as an actor would rehearse his or her lines until they could say their part in their sleep. You must look at and listen to yourself on videotape. Listen to your speaking voice and look at your posture. If you can, videotape yourself doing a presentation and, from time to time, while conducting interviews with your clients. Look at your body language. Notice your eye contact. Look at the way you’re dressed, the amount of jewelry you’re wearing, and look at your overall appearance. Look at your approach, your presentation, and your clothes.

When dealing with clients, you must deliver a winning performance every time. Most importantly, listen to your script. I ask people all the time, “What language were you born speaking?” Most everybody says English. I say no, you weren’t born speaking English. It’s the script you learned.

Some of our scripts are better than others. All sales people have scripts. Some of our scripts are worth $50,000 to $100,000 per year. Others have scripts worth $250,000 and yet others are worth $1 million or even $5 million per year. The differences are the scripts we choose, how well we rehearse them and how well we utilize them.

Step 2. Intent statement

This is pretty much designed to reduce sales resistance by accomplishing two very important tasks:

1. Introduce the agenda so your future client knows what’s about to take place. Do two things for them and one for you.

2. It lets your prospect know that it’s OK to say no in order to relieve any perceived pressure.

Years ago, I learned a three-step agenda I have used since the early 1980s, one that tells the client what you’re doing next. “What we’re going to do, Mr. and Mrs. Jones, is sit down and analyze your current personal situation and ask questions about your lifestyle, your dreams, your hopes, your plans, your goals. We are then going to look at your current financial situation and then figure out if your values, goals, and dreams are in line with your finances and vice versa. Then we’re going to do an analysis and find out if there is a better way.”

This way, clients are never surprised. I’ve learned in life that clients dislike surprises, especially the front end boomers or retirees.

Next month, we will visit the last three steps to gaining trust: commonality, credibility and competency.