The first thing a doctor does when I go into his office is to listen to me. He then asks me very simple questions such as, 'How are you feeling?' 'What is troubling you?' and 'Where does it hurt?'
As an advisor, you can ask your prospect similar open-ended questions to get him to tell you how he is feeling. This is not the time to have him fill out a 97-point checklist with all of his personal information. This is a time to talk about feelings and to listen.
Here are some sample questions to get you started:
- If you could paint a picture of your average day in retirement, how would you explain it to me? Who would you spend your time with and what would you do?
- If you see one major roadblock between you and the picture you painted for me, what is that roadblock and what is preventing you from overcoming it?
- What is one financially related issue that is causing you to stay up at night?
- If you had my job as a financial advisor for a day, what area would you begin researching right away and why?
- What are your professional and personal aspirations?
These questions will get many prospects to talk about the emotional side of their finances and their answers will give you what you need to know to begin to ?diagnose? and ?treat? what is bothering them emotionally. As you talk with your prospects, always state their challenge back to them and let them know that you have a firm understanding of the emotions behind those challenges. For instance, if a client says he is not sure if he will be able to save for retirement, don?t just tell him you will help. Instead, ask him how he feels about it. It sounds hokey, but it is the key to building trust. Now the client will say that not being able to save makes him unsure about his future and that he does not want to fail at providing for his family. This is different from his previous statement?there is emotion behind the concern. You will use that emotion when you are making recommendations because the emotion he is feeling is what your product will help address.
After discovering your prospect?s feelings, you can summarize his statements and how he feels about each statement. Let him know that you would like to review his situation and consider his concerns. The prospect should leave the meeting glad that he spoke to someone who listened rather than someone who judged him. Then schedule a second meeting.
Diagnosis and treatment
The next meeting should always begin with a summary of the challenges and emotions the prospect discussed in the first session. You may say something like this:
?Jon and Sally, I want to start off by summarizing what we discussed. Jon, you mentioned that one of your concerns was not having a retirement savings plan so that you and your family can have the lifestyle you want. Did I understand your concern? Sally, you mentioned you were worried about college planning for the children, you are losing sleep over their education and want to ensure that you provide them with every opportunity to be successful because not doing so would make you feel that you had failed as a mother. Is that accurate? I am glad that I understood. I want to begin by telling you that your concerns are extremely important.?
Address the most immediate concern first. Focus your first recommendations on something that is pressing to them, can be quickly resolved and gives them an immediate benefit. From the simple and immediate, work toward the more complex and long term. Letting them know that you understand their goals and concerns and establishing a multifaceted approach to solving their problems indicate that you don?t sell products; you solve problems.
Always restate the concern, confirm you understood it, explain your recommendation and how it will alleviate their concern, and verify that they feel it will.
Confirming that you understand their concerns and emotions and that your solutions will clearly solve those challenges will eliminate the need to close a sale. You have done what the doctor does. You have listened to the symptoms, clearly diagnosed the problem and recommended a treatment that will help what is troubling your prospect. Now all you need to do is ensure that he comes in for regular check-ups!
Editor?s note: Be sure to listen to AdvisorToday.com?s podcast with Dan Allision ?End Prospecting Pain Forever.?
Dan Allison is the founder of The Money Code, a consulting process designed to help business owners incorporate focus groups into their marketing mix. Contact him at 402-505-5454 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.