The First Client Meeting: Are You Making Any of These 10 Common Mistakes?
It’s all too easy to slip up in the first meeting and lose any opportunity to open the account – and this is especially true for new advisors.
In this post we’ll help you identify mistakes you could, without realizing it, be making. Take an honest appraisal – do you recognize yourself doing any of the following? If so, take action to fix these mistakes.
1. Overusing financial jargon
If you are overwhelming potential clients with excessive technical information, they will become confused and uncertain. Put simply: People don’t buy what they don’t understand.
Naturally, you know way more about financial instruments and markets than your prospects but seeking to emphasize this will not impress them. What prospects actually want to hear from you is that you are the right person to look after their money i.e. that you are trustworthy.
The one question they will have is ‘should they trust you enough to move forward?’ So, bear this in mind and keep things simple or they will walk away.
2. Not listening to prospects
If you insist on blithely delivering a generic presentation, without having first listened and understood a prospect’s individual goals, you won’t win their business. And ‘listening’ is about far more than simply ‘hearing’. Actively listening means all your focus should be on the person speaking.
Prospects will easily spot when you’re not really listening. From this they’ll glean that you aren’t interested in them as people and are more interested in their money.
Show your interest by asking open-ended questions. Maintain eye contact, don’t get distracted or gaze out of the window – and don’t interject. Allow prospects to finish what they’re saying before you give your presentation.
3. Not demonstrating enthusiasm
No matter what kind of day you’re having it’s essential that you don’t display negativity to potential clients. In this first meeting, you need to demonstrate your passion and enthusiasm – that you are there to make an impact on their lives. If you show up with a bad attitude, you may as well not show up at all.
Smile, have a firm handshake, be positive in body and language, and prospects will start to warm to you.
It’s essential to lay the groundwork in the first client meeting for all that follows. If you don’t ask the right questions to uncover prospects’ beliefs and goals, you won’t gain an understanding of exactly what they want from you.
Perhaps they’ve severed ties with a previous advisor. If so, try to find out why. What led to their dissatisfaction? Did this advisor promise too much and not deliver?
Make sure prospects know exactly what to expect from you. Get across that, while you can’t control market volatility, you can promise them a long-term strategy that will ultimately get them to their chosen financial destination, be that a comfortable retirement or a way to get the kids through college without borrowing money.
5. Leaving your personality behind
To prospective clients all financial advisors look and sound the same. They have similar products at their disposal, and they can all reel out numbers and probabilities.
The only way you are going to stand out at that first meeting is if to be different. If you don’t differentiate yourself by letting your personality shine through, you won’t win prospects over.
Use a ‘who I am’ story to let clients get to know you. Use your story to get across that you are an authentic human being and that you really care about the people you help.
Tell prospects why you love your job, or about a time you helped a couple achieve their dream retirement, and how great that made you feel. This will encourage prospects to engage with you on a personal level and to make the decision to work with you an easy one.
6. Failing to create urgency
People new to investing often don’t realize the implications of not starting an investment plan. If you don’t make them understand the need to take immediate action, they will walk away from your first meeting unconvinced.
And if this happens, nobody wins: Prospects lose because they are even further away from a debt-free retirement – and you lose because you’ve failed to win a new client.
Stop them from deliberating by asking the right questions. Make them acknowledge a need for investment advice. Ask open-ended questions to help them identify their objectives, then show how you can help.
If you’re talking to a young couple with children, ask them if they envisage their children going to college in the future. If so, ask them how do they plan to fund it. Will they borrow from family, take out a second mortgage or go into debt – because college fees are high?
If their children are aged around three years of age, this couple may only have just 180 pay checks left before they have to start paying for this costly education.
When reality hits, people are often spurred into action.
7. Not being prepared to overcome objections
If you’re not prepared to counter objections in the first client meeting, you won’t succeed in winning new business.
One common objection could be ‘I don’t have the money right now’. This could mean they don’t want to put off instant gratification for future financial stability – or they could be fearful about losing control of their money. Dig deep to find out what’s bothering them and have an answer at the ready.
Alternatively, if a prospect says they already have an advisor, you could reply: ‘I think it’s great you’ve been proactive about getting your finances on track and I’m sure you have a competent advisor. But no-one has a monopoly on great ideas. I have a great idea for your specific situation. Would it be possible to run that idea past you?’
The key is to be prepared for all possible objection scenarios and practice your counter-objections so you’re confident in delivering them when the time comes.
8. Delivering a lack-luster presentation
Your presentation is your opportunity to showcase yourself. Prospects will be watching carefully to ascertain whether you meet their expectations, appear trustworthy and are recommending the right path for them.
You can excel or you can stumble. You can demonstrate professionalism, or you can hesitate. You can let your personality shine through or appear uncomfortable.
It’s essential you use the small window that is the first meeting to excel. You are asking prospects for a big commitment, so you can’t afford to be anything less than excellent. You don’t need to give a long presentation, but it needs to be easy to understand and memorable.
Establish what you want people to take away – boil that idea down to ten words or less, then build your presentation around that. Keep to the point and don’t waffle.
9. Partying the night before the presentation
If you’ve ever been guilty of this, you’re not alone. But by overdoing things the night before a big meeting, you’re falling victim not to ‘fear of failure’, but to ‘fear of success’. You’re blaming it on the beers – rather than yourself – for not doing well.
This form of self-sabotaging behavior will stop your business dead in its tracks. You need to start taking responsibility for your actions and see that your behaviors are changeable. It’s time to stop repeating mistakes over and over and empower yourself so that you feel in charge of your own destiny.
By putting in lots of practice and going in prepared you’ll feel more confident and less likely to party the night before.
10. Failing to articulate your value
Ask yourself honestly: would you do business with you? If you don’t feel fully confident about this, you won’t be able to convince prospects either. Think about your unique value proposition and use it to reinforce why it makes perfect sense to do business with you.
Prospects need to see that you are of premium value, that you alone can add something other advisors can’t. You understand their problems and can demonstrate the fact that you can solve them.
Exhibit a strong self-image. Act like the CEO of your business, dress like a CEO and personify your superior corporate culture.
If you can articulate your value to prospects, they will believe you are worth every penny.
Your first meeting with a client is your one and only opportunity to build the rapport required to get a long-term relationship started. Don’t blow this opportunity – consider carefully how you will go about gaining your prospects’ trust.
Demonstrate that you are completely onboard with their problems and that you have a solution. Most of all, lots of practice and preparation are the key ingredients of a successful outcome in that first client meeting.
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