We have heard it again and again. People do business with those they “know, like and trust.” That’s true and we know it intuitively, but the question is: How much do we focus on getting people to know, like and trust us? The most important factor is probably “like.” Can we control how quickly or when people decide they like us?

In the book “Blink,” by Malcolm Gladwell, a study is referenced that was done to find out why some medical surgeons get sued, while others never get sued. When looking at surgeons and their practices, it was found that the surgeons who didn’t get sued spent, on average, just three minutes longer with each patient. And, in those three minutes, the surgeon just listened.

Interestingly, the patient still sued if a procedure the surgeon was involved in didn’t go as planned. However, it was usually the Internist, Radiologist or someone else who would get sued, not the surgeon, because the patient actually liked him. When the surgeon listened, he was silently yet clearly telling the client, “I think you’re important enough for me to take a few extra minutes to hear what you have to say.”

Hmm. We don’t sue people we like. We also will do business more quickly with people we like. And we will refer others to people we like. Can we deduce then that if we are good listeners, we will close more sales and close them quicker?

When was the last time someone really listened to you? Your spouse, your staff, your children? If you are the one who is the listener, you will potentially separate yourself from all the other people in a client’s life. And, if you are a good listener, you will silently yet clearly tell the client that you truly care about what he has to say. It’s hard to do anything but like a person that genuinely cares about you.

The listening and liking phenomenon goes even further. It has been proven that if you show you care about someone, that person will be more likely to take action more quickly when you do recommend something. The thought is that you would not recommend something that wasn’t in the person’s best interest because you actually care about him.

We have surveyed some of the most successful financial advisors and asked them who talks more in a meeting – you or the client? We found that the client typically talks more than half of the time in a meeting. To keep the client talking, the best advisors had an arsenal of good questions to ask. Here are some of the questions these advisors are asking. Yes, some are very basic, but they’re designed to keep the client talking and the advisor listening and learning.

  • What prompted you to meet with me today?
  • Does your current advisor communicate with you on a regular basis?
  • What are you worried about?
  • Did you start investing early in your life?
  • Do you like investing?

But probably the most powerful questions these advisors are asking are the “heart” questions. They asked about things close to the heart, about fears and accomplishments. Most importantly, they asked about children or grandchildren.

  • Tell me about your children (beneficiaries).
  • How are your children with money?

In addition to the typical data-gathering questions that are asked of clients, using these good questions to find out more may help you connect, provide better solutions and move along the path to closing sales more quickly. Are you a good listener? Because if they feel that you care through the way you listen, they will win and you will win, too.