When looking to build relationships with new clients, most advisers make a fundamental mistake: They inadvertently put their prospect in control of the process by adopting an approach that suggests they need their client more than their client needs them, which usually leads to the prospect wanting to think about it or needing multiple meetings. To prevent that from happening, there needs to be “rules of engagement” that establish an equitable relationship. In other words, we want to let the prospect know a decision to move forward will be a joint one. Try this:
“I think the reason we are meeting today is for two reasons. Firstly, do we like and trust each other, and can we work together?” The phrasing here is very deliberate because I want them to know I have the power to “hire and fire” just as much as they do. This creates a very different dynamic than “We’ll go through this process, and at the end of it if you’d like me to be your financial advisor, that will be wonderful?” While very professional and respectful, we invite our prospect to control the process — so we cannot be surprised when they raise objections or want to “think about it.”
“The second reason we’re meeting is for me to see if I can help you. At the moment, I don’t know whether I can help you or not. But I’m going to gather some information confidentially and without obligation, of course. The quality of advice I’m able to give you is based entirely upon information you give me.”
What I’ve done here is first made the prospect aware that this is going to be a relationship born of equality and mutual respect. They decide on me; I decide on them. At the same time, I am going to make them accountable for the advice I give, which ensures full disclosure and a greater level of commitment.
Alessandro M. Forte, FCII, FPFS, is a 25-year MDRT member from London, England, U.K. Hear more in the MDRT Podcast: