Now that the client hopefully trusts us and our motives, we can determine his needs. We should be asking a lot of questions here. I prefer to preface my question phase: “In order to do a better job for you, may I ask you a few questions? The upcoming questions will help me maximize your time here and make sure that I provide the right solution for your particular needs.”

One of my favorite sayings is, “prescription without diagnosis is malpractice.” Similar to a doctor who asks a lot of questions, I, too, ask many questions before I eventually come up with the proper solution. Now the big question becomes, what does a client really want? Often a client wants one thing but needs another. As a salesperson, our job is to find out what the client really needs and then assist them. There are a couple steps you must take. One is problem identification, then there’s discovery, and finally you can qualify.

In the problem identification step, I like to ask questions such as: “What brought you to our seminar? What brought you to our office?” and “What are your primary concerns right now?” Then the “feeling” questions, such as: “How comfortable are you with your current financial situation? How satisfied are you with your current financial plan?” and “How satisfied are you with your current financial advisor?”

Then ask him to describe the relationship he has with his current advisor, such as the process they went through to create his current financial plan. Here is where you are able to ask questions about how often they got together, what other types of services they offer and how often does he look at your taxes? For example, “Is your current advisor proactive in the last few months of the year, making sure that you, the client, takes advantage of the gains and/or losses in your portfolio?” Here is where I differentiate myself.

There are several tactics I use in the process of problem identification. The first one I recommend is using a client information sheet to ensure you are getting all of the pertinent information, including finances. This worksheet has an outline to discover what a client’s goals and dreams are, his aspirations, what type of lifestyle he wants and what his current budget is.

I also reiterate much of the information so that he realizes I have been listening. In addition, I typically have an assistant who is taking copious notes, while listening in. I record many of the conversations so I am able to go back and listen to them at a later time. Using these methods demonstrates that you are actively listening to your customer. They also enable you to accurately determine what your future client’s true needs are.

After the interviewing process, I review all important points which are crucial to the client, to confirm I have clarity before I start making any proposals.

Using these strategies in the problem identification phase is going to allow you to discover and qualify. This will also be the first phase when the sale is either going to be made or broken. At this point, your future client is going to decide whether or not they want to do business with you.

So take a close look at your actions. Did you listen enough? Did you ask the right questions? Are you going to be thorough during the implementation phase? Are you considering their needs before yours?

If you implement all of the advice I have provided, you will be that much closer to closing the sale.