In a busy life full of competing priorities, clients need the expertise and guidance of good Advisors! It is far too easy to let the truly important things gather dust on a To Do List while we’re bouncing from one urgent task to another.
A financial plan? Insurance? Sufficient savings? Yup, all good ideas that I will eventually get around to… Sound familiar? Sure it does! There are plenty of financial advisors who fall into this trap with their own planning, too!
To make the sale, you need to help your prospects and clients filter out the mental noise and get clear on what really matters to them. When you can do that, they’ll take action.
Here are 4 tips to shine a light on their financial planning gaps:
Don’t assume! It’s very tempting to walk into any sales interaction imagining you already know what their needs and priorities are. After all, you know basic facts like their age, gender, and perhaps whether they have kids and own a home. So of course, you’ll be prepared to ‘pitch’ an appropriate solution based on that. But therein lies the trap!
There’s a line from the movie The Sentinel. Kiefer Sutherland plays an FBI investigator who’s taking a local cop to task: “The problem with hunches is that once you have one, you only see facts that back it up.” This happens to Advisors, too. The behaviour springing from assumptions is often to talk more than listen, not ask enough questions, and pitch one-size-fits-all solutions. You can often miss huge opportunities, and will certainly not create loyalty with this behaviour. No one likes to feel pigeon-holed or processed. Check your assumptions at the door.
Find the gap.
Ask current state questions. To find the gap, you first need to know what’s going on right now. Ask them questions about the current state of affairs in their life. You’ll find that a lot of the urgent needs live here. Avoid asking closed, survey-type questions like Do you rent or own? Or Have you started saving for retirement? I’ll be blunt here: These are rookie advisor questions! They feel transactional and build no relationship at all.
Instead, ask open-ended, engaging questions that get them to reflect and paint a bigger picture for you. Questions like: Share with me what financial issues are concerning you right now. Or How are you balancing business growth pressures with your family’s financial needs? Or What plans do you have in place right now to manage your debt?
These questions position you well as an expert Advisor, and stimulate much deeper conversations. Prospects and clients will end up discovering for themselves some of the financial planning needs that have been under their radar.
Ask Future State Questions. Open, thoughtful questions about your client’s deeper goals shine a light on the gap between where they are now and where they want to go. Again, make sure these questions go beyond the transactional.
Choose questions like: Map out for me where you’d like to be in five years. Or How would you compare your different approaches to retirement planning? Or If everything turned out exactly the way you’d want it to be, what would your business succession look like?
Get them to prioritize. The above questions will generate a substantive conversation with many potential courses of action. Once you’ve gotten a deeper understanding of where they are and where they want to go, reflect the list of needs you’ve heard back to them, using their language, not product names. Ask them to prioritize, balancing urgent needs with what is important to their longer goals.
Once your prospect or client sees clearly that your recommendations bridge the gap to their goals, they’ll have the motivation they need to take action, and you will both be ready to close.