1. What is the pain?
The prospect is in your office for a reason, and finding out why sooner rather than later will bring dividends as you are starting this new relationship. Everyone wants to be in a relationship where the other person says, “They really understand where I am coming from.” This happens only when someone is asking great questions and does minimal talking.
The classic approach to this is to establish some rapport and then simply jump into the question, “Mr. Jones, what brings you into my office today?” If this leads to an answer of, “Just want to know more about your services and what you do,” then you know you have a lot more work to do to find out the prospect’s true motivation for being there. Another prospect may say, “I am here because I feel that I am paying a lot in fees and taking more risk than I am comfortable with. I simply want to know what other solutions may be available for my situation.” That is the type of response you are looking for! I call this the “anchor answer.” This is what I must focus on to see if I can help this investor. But getting to this answer is just the beginning.
2. How much pain are they in?
General pain does not mean much. We need to make clear the impact of the pain. A client who believes he has high fees and is not getting the return he desires becomes the point on which you want to focus. If the prospect is paying $5,000 per year in fees and you know that you could save him $2,000 per year in fees with less risk, focus on helping him understand the implications of this pain: “Mr. Jones, I see that by making some simple changes to your situation, we could save you approximately $20,000 over the next 10 years and reduce your risk at the same time.” You want to show that the pain is significant. You then want to take the quantifiable pain and frame it as an opportunity cost for the prospect. Ask him what he would do if he had an extra $20,000 in his pocket over the next 10 years. This is really where you begin to see your prospects feel that you have an answer for their pain.
3. Do they want the pain to go away?
As silly as it may sound, you must ask your prospects if they want the pain to go away. In client meetings, once I have established the pain and that I can help make it go away, I must now find out if that is what they really want. All of us have had meetings where you know you can help the client and that they need help, but for some reason they honestly do not want to be helped. You must ask simply and directly, “Mr. Jones, is this a problem that you would like to have go away?” By not asking, you really never get that full commitment and you leave room for the prospect to take no action with you.