I remember a few years ago when my wife Sarah and I were trying to find a builder to construct our dream home. It was a lengthy process finding the “right” individual. We wanted someone that not only understood our goals, but was reputable, and had a history of a great finished product.

Before we made the final selection, we conducted several interviews with a number of potential builders. Looking back at the psychology of why we chose who we did, it definitely had a lot to do with the fact that they seemed to be in very high demand as they were constantly meeting with potential clients. I remember thinking, “Wow, we better get on board with him before someone else does and they are completely booked up!”

This is a perfect example of what it means to build trust and credibility with prospects and clients utilizing the ACE Principle:

  • Authority: Having authority means that you have a powerful and influential voice in the industry. When you have authority, people care about your opinions and what you say.

  • Celebrity: How well are you known in your local market? Are you visible on TV or billboards, heard on the radio, featured in local or national publications? Your celebrity status may not directly relate to your level of expertise, but it’s still an important element for building trust with prospects. I always like to use the example of Suze Orman. If she opened a financial firm in your town today, how many of your clients would she steal? Not necessarily because she is more qualified than you (obviously), but because she has celebrity status.

  • Exclusivity: Exclusivity is the idea that you don’t just work with anyone and are in very high demand. Think of a high profile plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills. Does the average Jane Doe know about and/or visit them? Probably not. The element of exclusivity gives your business an added layer of credibility. Remember, people want what they can’t have.

No different from the story of our builder above, financial advisors must build a degree of trust with prospects in order to attract, acquire, and keep clients. What are you doing to build strong and trustworthy connections?

One of my clients, who produced $2 mil a year when I first met him, (let’s call him “Greg”) has leveraged this idea better than anyone. As they say, “perception is reality”, as just last year he gathered almost $30 mil of assets, helped by the simple concept of a “15-minute warning knock” he’s been using from the days when he didn’t have but two appointments a week — he’s booked out at least three weeks now.

  • No meetings that last longer than 1 hour: Not finished? You need to book a follow up with his assistant to get you in as soon as Greg’s schedule allows. If a client meets with you for three hours, how important will your time be perceived?

  • The “15-minute warning knock”: Greg’s assistant knocks on the door with a “15 minute warning”, letting both Greg and the prospect know that his next appointment will be arriving shortly and they need to wrap things up (this happens regardless of whether another appointment is booked or not). At the end of the 15 minutes, Greg’s assistant enters the room and excuses Greg to prep for his next meeting. She then either books a follow up appointment or begins on paperwork to bring them on as a client.

What does the “15-minute warning knock” do for Greg?

1. It keeps him on schedule: 

Greg has a set schedule for appointments, he stacks them Tuesday to Thursday to maximize his revenue producing days.

2. He appears in “high demand” at all times:

Think how this looks from the prospects chair across the table. Definition of Exclusivity!)

3. There is no other time in an appointment that Greg is able to gather more important information.

Once they know they only have 15 minutes of Greg’s time remaining, it’s amazing the transformation you see with clients opening up and sharing what concerns brought them in.

I’d encourage every financial advisor to give this a try and just watch how you will immediately become more credible, good luck (and please come back and share your success stories.)

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