Everyone knows about icebreaker questions. When you meet someone new at an event, the first question might be; “Where do you live?” The second is often: “What do you do?” We’ve all experienced the moment when two people are talking at once: “Before you can finish saying “I’m a financial advisor” they have started saying “I already have an advisor.” Sometimes they use the word “broker.” What can you do?
What’s Going on in their Head?
We don’t know what they are thinking, but we can guess. The first thought is: “Oh no! She’s going to try selling me something! Is there a wooden stake or any silver bullets around? Wait! These words will ward them off! ‘I already have a broker.”
They might be thinking “one is all I need. You have one barber. One accountant. One auto mechanic. Isn’t one broker enough? They might be implying all “brokers” are the same.
The optimistic view you might take is they are wondering: “Do you do something different?”
Five Possible Responses
You don’t want to cross any lines. Starting an argument is off the table too. Here are five ways to keep the conversation going:
1. Multiple advisors. “I expected that. Successful people usually have multiple advisory relationships. You are obviously successful. How many do you have?” You’ve complimented them and set up an “if/then” statement.
Logic: Years ago, “The Millionaire’s Advisor” was written by Brett Van Bortel and Russ Alan Prince. One of the points it made was the wealthy have on average, three relationships with financial advisors.
2. Draw them out. You think that’s great news! What firm? (Yes, that’s a fine firm.) How long have you been together? You then ask: “Would you recommend them?” Stop talking? “What do you like best about them?”
Logic: You are respectful. If they wouldn’t recommend them, you wonder why they stay with them.
3. Highlight a service characteristic. Again, you are thrilled they are working with someone. You might mention in market conditions like these, we try to conduct a comprehensive portfolio review with every client on a quarterly basis. You ask when they had their last portfolio review.
Logic: You set a service threshold and asked if their current advisor is meeting it.
4. How have they done for you lately? The stock market has been doing well for over a decade. You are asking if they are satisfied with the results delivered by their advisor. Stop talking and let them speak.
Logic: Instead of talking about what you do, you are asking them to talk about their relationship.
5. Establish yourself as the alternative. I learned this from a restaurant owner with a relative who sold poultry. Whenever that fellow would meet a restaurant owner he would say: “I’m sure you are happy with your current suppliers. Here’s my card. Please call me if anything changes.” He then changed the subject. You might apply it almost word for word.
Logic: Inertia keeps most people in unsatisfactory relationships. They think it will take a lot of work to find another provider. Now, relief is a phone call away.
“I already have an advisor” doesn’t need to be a conversation killer. You have alternatives to take the conversation in a different direction.