1. "We're all in this together." Clients sometimes see advisors as blackjack dealers in a casino. They are friendly and engaging, yet one is being paid to deal the cards regardless of whether the other wins or loses. They need to be reminded you invest, too. You eat your own cooking.
Message: I’m an investor, too. If the market declines, I need to put my own concerns aside and focus attention on my clients.
2. "What will it take to agree on a strategy today?" It’s like the car dealer saying: “What will it take to get you to drive home in a new car today?” It sounds salesy, but can be surprisingly effective in certain situations.
Message: Tell me about your buying criteria. Is it the level of fees charged? Is it yield? What are you looking for?
3. "You are not doing this for yourself." A California advisor would explain: “This isn’t about just making money. You are providing for your family.” You focus them on a higher, more noble goal. Hopefully both parties are present.
Message: It’s a subtle shift. Not agreeing with your suggestions can be seen as not wanting to provide for their family. This can be uncomfortable for them if their spouse is seated alongside them.
4. "Security blanket." Your prospect has a portfolio. You want to change everything. That can be scary. Find something they own that fits well into the new portfolio. That’s the security blanket.
Message: In reviewing your holdings, I see you own (X). That was a really great decision on your part. Not only do I think we should keep that in the new portfolio, I think we should add more.
5. Pay as you go. Investing is meant to be approached with a long-term time horizon. Prospects often wonder “what if I need money?” They can be wary of up-front fees. Do they realize asset-based pricing is a great example of pay-as-you-go pricing?
Message: You only pay for the service as long as you are using it. If you are invested for four years, three months, two weeks and one day, then leave, you’ve only paid fees for that period of time.
6. "You should get a report card." If I’m doing a lousy job, you should be able to fire me. Friends hesitate doing business with other friends because unwinding the relationship could ruin the friendship, too.
Message: Periodic reviews are the report cards you deliver. If they wonder how they could leave while retaining the friendship, you provided a roadmap.
7. "Here’s how we make money." Clients wonder about fees. They know you don’t work for free. It’s awkward to ask.
Message: You explain in simple terms. Commissions are like sales tax on a purchase. Built-in fees are like the wholesale to retail spread on buying milk.
8. "You know where I work and what I do." You bring up business with a friend without making it sound like a sales call. You can follow with, “I’ve never brought up business because I assume you work with someone else already. They probably take great care of you and give you excellent service.”
Message: You’ve been respectful of their current relationship. You have also set a standard. They wonder “am I getting excellent service?”
9. "When was the last time you heard from your advisor?" It’s another way of asking: “Are you getting the attention you feel you deserve?”
Message: It’s your opportunity to explain how frequently you speak to or connect with clients.
10. "I really enjoy working with you. I wish I could have more clients like you." It’s a tactful, low-key way of bringing up referrals.
Message: They will likely return the compliment. If they thought you weren’t adding new clients, you cleared that up. You might follow up with how you help people in certain situations. You mention theirs.
11. "You made a good decision." You’ve seen this in restaurants. “I’ll have the steak.” The server says: “Good decision.” People like positive reinforcement.
Message: Prospects and clients are aware that agreeing with your suggestions costs money. You are letting them know how this investment neatly fits into the larger picture and how it helps get them toward their goals.
12. "Pay yourself first."
I’ve seen this said many ways. The
wealthy see money
as raw material to be turned into something more valuable. Another version is “spend what you have left over. Don’t save what you have left over.”
Prioritize saving and investment. Time is your ally.
13. "We're on the same side of the table." Sales is often seen as an adversarial relationship. There’s a winner and a loser. Older investors might recall getting calls from their advisor at the end of the month. They thought the advisor’s motivation was getting a commission.
Message: Fee-based pricing is transparent. Your suggestions are perceived more as being in their best interest because they are paying the same percentage regardless of how many or how few trades are made.
14. "Is there room for improvement?" It’s a polite way of asking if their advisor is doing a good job. You might say: “If your advisor is there when you need them, answers your questions and returns calls promptly, that’s great. If you think there’s room for improvement, we should talk.”
Message: You actually set a pretty low bar! It gets the other person thinking about the quality of their current relationship.
15. I can’t believe we are still lending money at (x) percent. This is good if your firm is affiliated with a bank and also does mortgages. It’s a good answer to “How’s business?”
Message: You’ve introduced the liability side of the relationship. They likely have credit card debt. This might prompt more questions. Set up a time to talk later.