So you got the meeting, congratulations!
Getting your foot in the door is by far the hardest part. But now what?
Aside from the mounting pressure to create a great first impression, you have to find a way to build a relationship, get all the information needed for you to do your job, and most importantly, get them wanting to see you again.
Before the Meeting
Do your research
The first part of ensuring a successful first meeting is to make sure you take the time to research the prospect.
With Google, LinkedIn, and Facebook you have a wealth of resources available at your fingertips to get some information.
Find out their hobbies, associations they belong to, and anything else that is important to them – this is vital information that will help you find common ground, make a connection, and build a relationship.
Set yourself apart
You've heard it before; FIRST impression is EVERYTHING.
The little details are what separate the good advisors from great ones.
Show them they are important by waiting 5 minutes before they arrive. Be right there to greet them as soon as they come out of the elevator. You’ll be the first person they see with a warm, welcoming smile to escort them back to your office. Do the same on their way out; walk them as far as the last door before exiting the building.
Show them you will go the extra mile by having a personalized agenda ready to go with a yellow pad, pen, and bottled water. An individual walking into a nice set up lets them know that they are important to you and sends a message that resonates.
Show them you’ve done your research by customizing your meeting and an agenda to their needs. If you’re meeting with a self-employed business owner, you want to find out more about their SEP’s, tax situation, and insurance. On the other hand, if you’re meeting with a corporate executive you want to focus your questions more on their stock options, deferred compensation, and retirement plans.
Clear your mind
According to Albert Mehrabian, a pioneer in body language research, studies have found that 93% of communication is nonverbal.
Your subconscious thoughts may have a direct effect on your body language.
If your thoughts are creating some emotional distress, you can bet that your body language is going to portray that.
In fact, your body responds to the subconscious trigger cues faster than your conscious mind can realize it.
So by the time you realize your leg's bouncing rapidly up and down (typically associated with anxiety or anxiousness), it has already shown up in your body, and it’s too late.
Set yourself up for success and address any issues (personal or professional). Make your mind so that you are fresh and focused on the meeting.
During the meeting
Don't fake it
If something is sad, empathize, if it’s not funny don't go out of your way to fake laugh so that you can earn brownie points.
More than likely, if the prospect thinks you're faking it, they will perceive you as disingenuous.
Pick up on cues
The first 5-10 minutes your prospect will be the most engaged. After that, it’s all about how the meeting is going.
Try to see if you can pick up cues from their body language during the meeting.
Are they leaning forward?
They are probably engaged and interested in the topic.
Are they crossing their arms?
That’s probably not good. It’s a defense mechanism and may have a negative meaning.
But… Not always.
They may just be crossing their arms because they are cold and they are trying to warm up.
So how can you tell?
Use your best judgment.
Although we can’t say for certain that any one particular action has an absolute meaning, we can often make a good inference based on other variables leading up to or occurring at the time.
If you cut someone off in traffic and they come speeding up next to you with their window down, scowling, with their middle finger extended out as far as humanly possible, I think it’s safe to say how that person feels about you (guilty right here).
Similarly, if you're in a meeting and are discussing a topic and the prospect perks up, asks questions and is engaged, I think it's safe to say they are interested in what you have to say. Try spending an extra few minutes addressing that topic.
On the other hand, if you’re talking about something and your prospect looks as if they’d rather have a pot of boiling water poured over their sunburn, move on to something else.
The Grinch -Grinning of mouth without muscles movement in the eyes – most likely fake.
Pinocchio - Excessive scratching or touching of the nose while talking about something indicates that person is telling a lie.
Dumbo –Fiddling with earlobes in a soothing type gesture, someone is uncomfortable about something.
Other signs of discomfort:
- Constant repositioning in chair
- Pointing toes toward door
- Hand supporting head
- Rubbing forehead
- Lowered Eyebrows
- Nibbling lips
- Blinking intensely
- Leaning outward
- Crossing arms
- Rubbing eyes
- Hiding hands
- Neck rub
The Rock - Raising eyebrows is an expression of piqued interest. Try spending a few extra minutes on that topic.
Puppy Face - People who tilt their head when hearing about an emotional event are genuinely heartfelt about your story.
Betty Boop – The eyes don't lie. If a prospect maintains contact with you, then they are interested in the discussion.
Other signs of comfort or interest:
- Body and feet pointed towards you
- Mimicking actions of each other
- Hands out in the open
- Movements are calm
- Nodding of the head
The prospect should be doing 80-90% of the talking.
In the beginning, make sure to keep it light. Allow the prospect to talk about his or her family and work. Smile, and just listen.
When you start talking business, you should have a slightly different attitude, tone, and posture. It hints to the prospect that you take your work seriously.
If you were leaning back in the beginning and had your glasses off, that’s ok. After small talk, bust those babies out, sit upright, and slightly lean towards the prospect.
When you’re interviewing the client, please don't be a robot.
Let the conversation flow.
At the same time, you do have to collect a good amount of data to do your job.
So, if the prospect starts talking about their golf tournament that they almost won, and you find them rambling on, politely say, “John, as much as I’d love to hear more about it, we really do have some important things we need to cover…” and steer the conversation back to where it needs to be.
TOP 10 Questions
Question 1: Tell me about how you got started in your business?
What it does: Establishes trust between you and the prospect, and also gives you valuable background information about them.
Note: Make sure you check in with the prospect when they tell you something of relevance. It shows you are listening and is reaffirming for the prospect.
Example: Prospect: “So, we have two girls within five years from college. I’m hoping they will be all set by the time they're ready. We’re expecting one more and considering setting something up for her...”
You: So what you’re saying is within five years you have two that will be off to college, and you’d like to have two fully funded education plans for them as well as establish a new fund for your newborn?
Question 2: Tell me about your family?
What it does: Builds additional trust and provides vital information for your plan.
Question 3: Tell me how can I help you?
What it does: Uncovers your prospect’s most pressing needs and goals that THEY are interested in addressing.
Income, Risk, Behavior Questions:
Question 4: Can you tell me a little bit about your current debt/asset situation and how are you currently allocated?
What it does: Gives you some relevant financial information that you will use to create a comprehensive financial plan.
Question 5: Can you tell me about your current income streams?
What is does: Gives you important information on all of their other income streams. May also open up discussions around spouses work/financial situation.
Question 6: If you were to rate yourself on a scale from 1-10, what you say your tolerance for risk is?
What it does: It’s a good opener to a conversation around risk.
Question 7: What would you do if your portfolio went down 30%?
What it does: Answers some important behavioral questions.
Question 8: What are your expectations from your advisor?
What it does: This shows that you care about their input and that you view your relationship as more of a partnership. Also, it can give you clues on where their current advisor is lacking.
Question 9: What is your preferred method of communication and how often do you prefer contact?
What this does: It shows you are considerate of their time and preference. Communication is key to earning and maintaining trust.
Note: Every year you should have a minimum 12 touches with your clients:
Business (5): Face to face (1) Quarterly call (4)
Other (7): Holiday, Anniversary and Birthday Card, Congratulations, Just Cause,
Tip: I know of an advisor who sends an anniversary card every year for the day their prospect became a client. “Happy Anniversary! I can’t believe it’s been four years since we began working together; thank you so much for your trust and confidence.” Talk about differentiation!
Question 10: Is there anything else I should know before moving forward?
What this does: This encourages the prospect to share anything else that they may have been withholding or forgot to mention.
Tip: Stick to the time you allocated for the meeting no matter what. It shows you are busy and value your time.
AND FINALLY, THE MOST IMPORTANT PART:
SECURE THE NEXT MEETING BEFORE THE PROSPECT LEAVES.
Scheduling the next meeting two weeks out, it’s ideal.
Any less says you’re not busy or you didn't put enough thought and effort in their plan; any more prospect loses excitement and interest.
After the Meeting
Connect the dots
After your prospect has left, the first thing you should do is make an additional
set of notes about the meeting.
Write down how you thought the meeting went.
Don’t just rely on the notes you took in the meeting; you’ll miss important details when you look back at them.
Capture your thoughts while they're the freshest, connecting the dots and highlighting most important pieces information.
I use to send handwritten thank you letters after meeting with a prospect for the first time.
You don’t have to that, but at a minimum, make sure you shoot over a nice email thanking them for taking the time and letting them know that you are looking forward to seeing them for the next meeting.
Even with the first meeting set, earning the clients trust and confidence can be a challenging.
But if you do your research, give a little extra, and ask great open-ended questions, you will set yourself apart from most of your competition, and increase the likelihood of winning the business!
Share your thoughts
Do you have a question or a practice you would add to this? Please share your thoughts below!