Only Sec­onds to Im­press

When a prospec­tive client asks, “So, what do you do?” here’s how to re­spond.

Financial Planning - - CONTENTS - BY JOHN J. BOWEN JR.

It’s the ques­tion we’re all asked at cock­tail par­ties, com­mu­nity events, on air­planes or golf courses: “So, what do you do?” A sim­ple ques­tion, right? No way. When you’re asked what you do, the next 15 sec­onds can change your fu­ture. Your im­me­di­ate re­sponse can help at­tract new prospec­tive clients to you like a mag­net. Or it can land with a thud and do noth­ing for you or your busi­ness. It all de­pends on how quickly and ef­fec­tively you com­mu­ni­cate the unique value that you of­fer as a fi­nan­cial ad­vi­sor. Why? Stud­ies show that when you meet some­one new, you have no more than 30 sec­onds — and maybe as few as seven sec­onds — to make a strong first im­pres­sion. That means you must make your­self com­pelling to the per­son in front of you — and do it fast! You must be ready with an ex­pertly crafted re­ply that will spark a sin­cere in­ter­est from the lis­tener, and then mo­ti­vate them to explore work­ing with you. Here’s how to make the most of those first few sec­onds when you’re in front of a prospec­tive client. While your value prom­ise may be clear to you, it is prob­a­bly not as ob­vi­ous to peo­ple you en­counter. It is up to you to con­vey it in a com­pelling yet suc­cinct man­ner, es­pe­cially when the mo­ment is brief. The se­cret to suc­cess is hav­ing a sim­ple three-part value prom­ise cov­er­ing the three bases that ex­press your unique value rapidly and com­pellingly. 1. Who you serve — and how they ben­e­fit: In­stead of rat­tling off a plain-vanilla ti­tle or po­si­tion that’s sure to get a yawn (“I’m a fi­nan­cial ad­vi­sor,” “I’m a se­nior vice pres­i­dent in charge of…”), de­scribe how you solve a key chal­lenge or de­liver an amaz­ing re­sult to your spe­cific clients.

Cre­at­ing a com­pelling value prom­ise isn’t easy. Keep it brief and make it all about the lis­tener.

The rea­son: Peo­ple care about ben­e­fits. A po­si­tion­ing state­ment that briefly and clearly tells the value that you — and you alone — pro­vide to your se­lect group of clients will act as a bea­con to draw peo­ple to­ward you and get them to raise their hands to learn more. Here are a few ex­am­ples from elite fi­nan­cial ad­vi­sors we have coached: “I help high-tech ex­ec­u­tives make work op­tional.” “I help busy en­trepreneurs make in­formed de­ci­sions about their money so they can stay fo­cused on grow­ing their busi­nesses.” “I help ra­di­ol­o­gists hang up their white coats.” “I en­able re­tirees in our com­mu­nity to gain con­fi­dence.” If you are un­sure of the unique ben­e­fit you de­liver to mem­bers of your niche, an­swer th­ese ques­tions: Who are the ideal af­flu­ent clients that I serve? What are the key needs of my ideal af­flu­ent clients? What makes me dif­fer­ent from

my com­peti­tors?

Com­pelling An­swers

2. How you work: You’ll know that part one of your value prom­ise is on point when, af­ter you say it, the per­son asks, “How do you do that?” It’s like when a doc­tor hits your knee with a rub­ber ham­mer — you can’t re­sist re­act­ing. That’s when you’ll briefly sum­ma­rize your ap­proach to man­ag­ing your clients’ wealth. Here are four ex­am­ples of com­pelling an­swers that top wealth man­agers we know use and that res­onate with their prospec­tive clients: ”We use a com­pre­hen­sive process to help our clients ad­dress each of their five key con­cerns: mak­ing smart de­ci­sions about their money, mit­i­gat­ing their taxes, tak­ing care of their heirs, mak­ing sure their as­sets are not un­justly taken and mag­ni­fy­ing their char­i­ta­ble gifts.

When you meet some­one new, you have no more than 30 sec­onds — and maybe as few as seven sec­onds — to make a strong first im­pres­sion.

“We work with a network of pro­fes­sion­als to help our clients max­i­mize the prob­a­bil­ity of achiev­ing every­thing most im­por­tant to them.” “I use a con­sul­ta­tive wealth man­age­ment process to iden­tify where clients are now, where they want to go and any gaps for get­ting there. Then I help them close those gaps.” “We use a five-step wealth man­age­ment process that we’ve de­vel­oped over the last 20 years. We ad­dress in­vest­ment con­sult­ing, ad­vanced plan­ning is­sues and re­la­tion­ship man­age­ment.” 3. Call to ac­tion: Us­ing this process, you can com­mu­ni­cate your com­pelling value and po­si­tion your­self as an ex­pert in ad­dress­ing the needs of your spe­cific client base — all in about 15 or 20 sec­onds. Now the lis­tener is en­gaged and re­ally ready to learn what you might be able to do for them. In most cases, the next ques­tion will be some­thing along the lines of: “How do I find out more about that?” Here is where you’ll re­ply with your call to ac­tion. This is the step you want the per­son to take next: a dis­cov­ery meet­ing where you’ll go over where the prospect is now fi­nan­cially, where he or she wants to be in the fu­ture and the gaps needed to be closed to get there.

Tell Your Story

As a bonus, some­times you and a prospec­tive client may be in a sit­u­a­tion where you have time to have a more ex­tended con­ver­sa­tion. In that case, it may be ap­pro­pri­ate to in­cor­po­rate your per­sonal story. By per­sonal story, I mean the events in your life that caused you to care about help­ing peo­ple make smart de­ci­sions about their wealth. If you have this op­por­tu­nity, tell your story right af­ter you de­scribe the dis­cov­ery meet­ing, but be­fore you ask if he or she would like to sched­ule it. Al­though this tem­plate is sim­ple, cre­at­ing a truly com­pelling value prom­ise is not easy. Be sure to keep it brief, make it all about the lis­tener and make it be­liev­able. Try writ­ing a script and read­ing it out loud at least 10 times. Re­peat it un­til the script sounds nat­u­ral. Bet­ter yet, prac­tice your pitch in front of your spouse, team mem­bers, friends and as­so­ciates. The next time some­one asks you what you do, you’ll be ready with an en­gag­ing, com­pelling an­swer that sets the stage for amaz­ing results.

Have a good an­swer ready to go when prospec­tive clients at a char­ity event ask what you do. The first 30 sec­onds of your re­sponse could have a ma­jor im­pact on your busi­ness.

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