The danger of finding common ground with prospects and clients… Huh?
What danger? How could this be problematic?
Building rapport is one of the first and most important tasks of building a relationship, isn’t it? How else are you supposed to establish trust and win the business??
Absolutely, finding common ground and building a genuine connection is essential. I am not upending what centuries of experience have taught us is important to great human interactions.
Here is where the problem comes in:
In our eagerness to create that bond, we miss an important opportunity to learn something deeper about our clients and prospects.
I’ve seen this over and over, especially in newer Advisors. They do some prep, get onto social media platforms, find a kernel of information they can leverage, and hit the meeting:
Advisor: John, I noticed on your LinkedIn Profile that you volunteer with the Boy Scouts of Canada.
John: That’s right.
Advisor: I was a Boy Scout. I’ve got some great memories.
John: Yeah? It’s a great organization.
End of exchange. Rapport covered. Check. Now it’s time to talk business, right?
The Advisor has rushed to show common ground by talking about himself.
I get it. This is a natural instinct. In fact, he probably has uncovered something they could connect over. But he’s handled it in a way that keeps this point of potential connection at a surface level. He’s also missed out on the opportunity to learn more about what makes John tick.
Behind this approach is the short-sighted focus on closing the deal. It’s very ‘me-focused’, and it’s manipulative. What can I talk about so that he’ll like and trust me and give me his business?
Here are 3 tips to approach using this personal client information more effectively:
Keep your eye on the bigger prize.
Winning a deal is good. Winning the trust of someone who becomes a lifelong client and ends up referring friends and colleagues over the years, is better. When you focus on this longer-term goal, your approach to the prospecting conversation will shift from ‘How can I win’, to How can I serve’. Your motivation of genuine service will be felt, and you’ll end up winning more business.
Hold back on the common ground.
Yes, absolutely you will share this important connection with them, but stop rushing it! This ‘Ace Card’ will be far more satisfying to both of you, if you first focus your efforts on understanding them more deeply.
Ask open-ended, impactful questions.
How long were you a Boy Scout as a kid? This closed question is a good start, but may only get you a ‘Three years’ as a response. Prepare a few, more impactful, questions ahead of time, such as:
What was your experience with the Boy Scouts as you were growing up?
What motivates you to stay involved with the Organization now?
You’ll likely be rewarded with deeper information such as:
I was in the Boy Scouts for about five years as a kid, and it was a life-saver. My Mom raised me by herself. She’s amazing, but it was hard not having my Dad around. The Boy Scouts really filled that void. I learned confidence, leadership, contributing to community, so many things. I have two sons and they’re both in the Scouts. I think it’s important to give back.
Now, when you share that you were a Boy Scout, you can connect on a much deeper level about your own experience. You will have found true common ground, and the foundation for a solid working relationship.
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Kira Callahan is an expert sales conversation coach serving the financial industry. Her private clients typically experience 30% – 100% increase in appointments and business booked. Click here to find out more about Kira.