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Listen to what's really important

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In my last column, I talked about specific ways to stand out and how to get in front of more potential clients. Once a financial professional has figured out mastering marketing, they should now be at a point of seeing a steady stream of people.

Getting those people to become clients can often be one of the hardest tasks of building a successful and lasting business. In our office, we call it getting down to the 20-yard line. Everything up to this point is important, but if you don’t convert in the “red zone,” all previous efforts don’t count. Imagine a football team that could get down the field, but couldn’t ever score.

Early on in my career, I found it easy to blame others for reasons why people would meet with me but didn’t become clients. The other advisor must have gotten involved. He probably talked the prospects out of moving forward. They just need time to think about it. I’m sure they will give me a call back when the time is right and they are ready. If they would just listen to me, they would understand how this works. They just don’t get it. They think I’m too young. You name it–I could come up with an excuse. After stopping and looking at it for a bit, I finally figured it out. The problem wasn’t someone else; the reason they didn’t become a client was me.

A case study
Tom and Heather are a perfect example. They told me they didn’t want to lose any more money in the stock market, so safe alternatives seemed like a logical solution. After meeting with them a few times, we signed the paperwork to transfer over their account and things were moving forward. That was until I got a message that said they wanted to hold off until they looked at a few other options. Instead of doing the blame game, I picked up the phone and called them. I asked them to do me a favor and come back in so I made sure we weren’t missing anything. I said perhaps there were things we didn’t clearly communicate on, and if they decided not to move forward, I would honor their wishes and close their file. They agreed to come back in and have a conversation.

The mistake I made was not taking enough time to fully understand what was important to them. Sure, I had all of the statements and a data-gathering form and knew not losing any more money was important. I thought I knew all of the facts, and the solution seemed easy to me. Yet, by slowing things down and spending more time discovering what truly was important to them made a big difference. As silly as it sounds, I asked them why they didn’t want to lose any more money. Then, I learned they wanted to leave money to their daughter. Once I asked why that was important to them, they explained their daughter was disabled, and they wanted to make sure she was provided for if they were gone.

Get more clients
One way to get more clients is to remember during the discovery process, it’s crucial to spend plenty of time asking what is important to them. Expand upon their answer and ask at least three follow-up questions to their initial answer. Give them time to think about the questions. This helps make sure the truly important issues, concerns and goals are covered. Don’t forget to ask each partner and give them each time to express their goals and wishes.

Understand that often one person in the relationship handles the finances, yet each person individually may have items that are important to them. Once an advisor fully understands what is important, that is when life-changing solutions can be put in place. And what’s more important than that?


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