How Financial Advisors Can Improve Initial Prospect Meetings


Your value to a prospect isn't tied to how much you know & how many facts you can recite.... its tied to your ability to display high EQ in the first meeting.

My tips for closing bigger clients & having better relationships:

  • Talk less in your meeting than the other person
  • Start every question with what or how ... not why or do
  • Set expectations about what wealth management & planning will mean to them

Related: Why Advisors Need To Nail Practice Management Initiatives Before Going Independent


Happy Wednesday, everybody. Before I delve into my very specific topic today around the initial meeting with clients, I just want to give anybody who feels as if they didn’t start off the year the way they wanted to or the way they intended to, permission to reset. . .

I’m not gonna start a new year of videos with some super motivational video because the reality is I think that the industry and society as a whole have created really impossible goals for us, right?

The idea that you need to start off January 1 with resolutions that you’re gonna stick to all year and a tight, perfect business plan that’s gonna set the stage for the whole year. It’s just not realistic, and this was quite a doozy of a start to a year, and so I give you permission to refine and rethink and say, “You know what? I’m gonna wait until January passes to really set my priorities for the year.” That’s fine, and nothing’s gonna happen if you do that. It’s your call as the practice owner.

The one thing I would suggest though is that those of us advisors and business owners broadly who are going to thrive this year and beyond are those who obviously have the easiest time adjusting to change on a daily basis. Meaning we’d go into the day or the month with no preconceived notions about what is gonna happen or what should happen, but simply with an open and curious minds about what might happen and how we might be able to quickly adjust and shift. And so give yourselves permission to start changing and adapting things on the fly and get rid of any success metrics that are no longer gonna serve you and no longer make sense given the state that we’re in in the industry and the world. Okay, so that was my public service announcement.

Moving on, I wanna talk specifically about the initial meeting with clients for two reasons.

The first is because things continue to be so far out of our control. This is the one thing, the one area of the business, that you actually can control, the way in which you communicate with clients, the way in which you discuss value, set expectations, really get clients bought into the process early on. You absolutely can control that because you are the one person in charge of how the conversation and the meeting goes. And so I wanna talk about it for that reason.

The second reason is as advisors, and I know we have a lot of subscribers in the B/D channel and Insurance B/D channel, as advisors, have reflected on what they wanna do better. I’ve heard from a lot of people, “I’m having trouble moving up market,” or, “I didn’t gather as many assets as I know I could given the resources and tools that I have at my disposal.” And what I find is that so many of those challenges can be traced back to the initial meeting. And so I wanna give you my checklist for having the initial meeting with a prospect who’s not yet a client, and the things you should and shouldn’t be doing.

First thing, number one, and I’m gonna try really hard to keep this way under 10 minutes. Okay, the first thing. You have to do your best to enter into conversations without any preconceived notions, assumptions, or objectives. Meaning, if you’re entering into a meeting worried about what that meeting is gonna mean or what the outcome is gonna mean as it relates to your goals, your metrics that are being tracked internally to your company, a specific product or service line, if you go into a meeting with those assumptions and judgements and thoughts, you’re immediately starting out with rather not being focused on the outcomes that the client wants to achieve. And so obviously, all those thoughts and judgments and fears about, “God, I’m not gonna hit my goals. I need XYZ. I need to climb out of this deficit I’m in as I hit X, Y, Z metric.” It prevents your ability to be really objective and wholly focused on what the client or person at the other ends of the table or Zoom is thinking and feeling and wanting from the conversation. And so it’s really difficult to do that, especially if you’ve been raised in a transactional sales-type culture, but the consumer now can sniff that off of us, off of people. They fully understand when they’re being led to a specific outcome. And remember that the consumer of today wants flexibility. They want choice. They wanna be guided by a professional, but they wanna know that they’re in control of the ultimate decision that they’re gonna make. And so if you need help doing that, go into the meeting and start the conversation with, “I just wanna begin with you being able to articulate what you want to achieve in our conversation today. What would be most helpful for you to hear from me? What would make you feel like this conversation is a success?” Allow them to claim the outcome that they want upfront, and whatever they answer will help steer the rest of the conversation. So beginning with their outcomes in mind, allowing them to state that publicly and out in the open is a great way to quell all those other things in your minds that you’re thinking about.

The second thing is along the same EQ lines. Ensure that the person is talking for a greater percentage of time than you are talking. This is really challenging for salespeople because we feel that our value is tied to our ability to wow people, our ability to close people. And again, when we think about what the consumer is looking for and what physiologically happens to people when we give them space to talk, and I’ve talked about this on other videos, when you are listening to somebody and somebody is talking about themselves, it actually produces dopamine in their bodies. Now if somebody’s talking about themselves and they have cues from the other person that the other person is listening, in other words, we’re nodding, we’re saying, “I totally understand. Tell me more.” It produces twice the amount of dopamine. In other words, people leave feeling really good when we’ve allowed them to open up and start talking. And so the ways we can do that are by ensuring that, number one, we’re actually cognizant of the percentage of time they’re talking versus we’re talking.

Secondly, we’re focused almost exclusively on asking what or how questions versus why questions, which force you to look back in time, which aren’t truly helpful if we’re trying to get a client or a prospect to move forward, what or how questions. And practice asking yourselves what or how questions, by the way, after this session; you’ll see what I mean. It forces the person at the other end of the conversation to actually say things that are gonna propel them forward. The other thing is I want folks to be more cognizant of how much they ask closed-ended questions. Asking somebody a question, like, “Wouldn’t you feel safer if you knew you were in a more secure asset class last year?” Sounds like an innocent question that has good intent around it, but it’s completely closed-ended. The only possible answer to that is a yes or no.

Realistically, the person is gonna answer yes, and so we’re leading the person to a specific answer that we want them to articulate without even realizing that we’re doing it. And so for so many of the younger advisors on this or my insurance B/D advisors, leading with the questions that likely you’ve been trained to lead with, I highly recommend going through this shift of creating a whole new set of questions for that initial meeting.

The other thing I’ll say is setting proper expectations upfront, critically important. So we’re listening more, we’re asking open-ended questions, and now we’re setting expectations about what we do. The one thing I want you to remember to share with clients in the initial meeting when it’s your percentage of time that you’re talking, I want you to articulate the difference between wealth management and financial planning, and investment management or risk management. That is the most powerful tool and value proposition talk script that you have.

Articulating with clients upfront, “Look, there’s so many advisors and service providers in the industry right now. I wanna make sure that you’re clear on what we do and how it’s different from perhaps maybe other experiences you’ve had, you’ve had with advisors or what other people do.” And here’s where you’re setting expectations. “We are a planning-focused firm, which means we have no preconceived notions about what you and your family are gonna need or what you and your business are gonna need in order to get you to where you’re going, the goals that you just stated, the long-term, qualitative goals. And so we are going to create an objective plan for you. Likely, likely but not necessarily, that plan is gonna have certain outcomes. Those outcomes may indicate that there’s a need to take a deeper look at your investments, provide insurance for an insurance gap that you may have, protect your assets, create a budget, and we’re gonna present that list to you. And if you feel comfortable with the direction that we’re moving, then the next step is for us to roll over your assets, to start the insurance process.” So you see what we’re doing here. We’re already queuing up people to be prepared for the types of things that we’re gonna be doing with them, i.e. moving over their assets, opening an insurance case, whatever it is, but we’re beginning with the objective plan.

Okay, I’m over 10 minutes. So I hope that was helpful to you. I hope that makes you think a little bit about whether you are really maximizing that really important opportunity with clients upfront, or prospects rather. I hope you have a good January. I will see you next week, same place, same time. Take care. Bye.