Unlock opportunities and
OPEN MINDS in your introductory meetings
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back of the napkin There is perhaps no other function in the life of an advisor, worthy of more contemplation, preparation and practice, than the introductory meeting with a prospective client.
Relationships are made or broken during the first meeting. Despite this reality, a surprising number of professionals continue to “wing-it” through this critical client interaction. I call it the Initial Impact session – a scheduled first meeting with a potential client. It’s also the pivotal event that will mark a prospect’s indelible understanding of what you bring to the table. A proper introductory meeting consists of several distinct elements, most of which we take for granted, but each of which deserves nothing less than pure mastery. Think of it this way ...every time we flawlessly execute one of these key elements, we are awarded a figurative “unit of attraction” from the investor. In contrast, each time we falter on one of the elements, we are penalized with a “unit of detraction.” Naturally, our objective is to amass as many units of attraction as possible, throughout the meeting, which ultimately leads to a rewarding partnership. In order to gain mastery in any discipline, we first need to identify, isolate, and meticulously practice each of the core components that make up the whole. Let’s start at the beginning of a hypothetical first meeting, and discuss the art and science of each component in the sequence. THE10 10PHASE PHASE THE
INITIAL INITIAL IMPACT IMPACT MODEL MODEL
Open the door to more successful first meetings
PHASE 1 | Start Strong – The First Impression To what degree does our first impression dominate the perceptions and opinions of those we meet for the first time? We’ve all heard quotes like “you never get a second chance to make a good first impression.” It was once believed that it took several minutes to form a lasting set of opinions about another person. But the evidence now suggests that it only takes a fleeting 1/10 of one second to formulate that opinion. And here’s where it gets even more sensational... the findings go on to suggest that a first
impression (once it is formed) is virtually impossible to change! You might say, we live or die by our first impression! The good news is, we are fortunate enough to have ready access to a universal model of what a “good first impression” looks like. It has a definitive structure to it and can, therefore, be practiced and perfected. • Warm smile
• Firm handshake
• Confident body language
• Say the name of the client
• Appropriate attire
• Being on time
• Eye contact
• Show hospitality
Use the checklist above, to become mindfully aware of how you’re “showing up” to your Initial Impact sessions. Remember, the first momentary flash is crucial and will leave a near-permanent imprint in the mind of the investor. PHASE 2 | Set the Frame – The Written Agenda There are many advisors who don’t use written agendas in their client meetings, and many more who will never use one in a first meeting with a prospect. In both cases, I think it’s unfortunate because the agenda is easy to incorporate, but delivers significant and measurable benefits. When we start our meeting with a written agenda, we immediately begin to showcase our mindset around pre-planning, organizing and systems-thinking. The agenda provides a logical structure and flow to the session, and allows the advisor to respectfully bring the meeting back on track if need be. A basic agenda should consist of your company logo, date, meeting time, name of the investor(s) and a few simple bulleted topics. The choice of bullet items are perhaps less important than the inclusion of an agenda itself. PHASE 3 | Initiate Discovery – The Power of Questions Now that we’ve made a fantastic first impression and outlined the objectives of the meeting, we can move directly into getting to know the prospect, through the power of questions.
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All discovery models are not created equal. There are open-ended, closed-ended, and clarifying questions, but it will be an elegant combination of all three that will inspire the most resourceful sharing. Knowing where to begin means first realizing what information is truly important to gather about a prospect. Most will agree that it’s not the information required on our industry KYC documents! Below are just a few examples of tactical questions designed to open minds and stimulate meaningful discussion. • So, what brings you to my office…?
The Secret Fears of the Wealthy – In an earlier report, Grant identified the three primary fears of the affluent investor: 1. Fear of losing their wealth 2. Fear of losing their current income 3. Fear of the single devastating event To learn more about how you can uncover and address these fears, see Grant’s microsite: www.renaissanceinvestments.ca/en/practicemanagement/
• What’s most important to you about money? • Where do you see yourself (x) years from now?
PHASE 5 | Introduce Structure – Explain Your Process
• On a scale of 1-10, how financially secure do you feel?
Since we know that people buy for emotional reasons and justify with logic… we will now follow the emotional content with the “logical” mechanism that delivers emotional solutions. It’s time to articulate and explain our wealth management process. The most effective way to accomplish this is simply to craft a set of clear answers to the following four questions:
• Where do you feel you could use some guidance? • What money issues keep you up at night? • How do you know you’re on track to retire in comfort? • Does your current financial plan make sense to you? • What do you feel is missing from your wealth-building strategy? • What’s your biggest financial concern of all?
• What does your process look like? • How does it work?
Employ active listening techniques as you begin to unravel the unique “story” represented by your guest. Take rigorous notes and maintain meaningful eye contact as your prospect shares their personal issues and concerns. This will convey a very real sense that everything they’re saying is important and worth recording. PHASE 4 | Address Emotional Needs – Make the Connection Up until now, you’ve done a great deal of listening and very little talking. Your strategic questions have provided you with important insights into the financial status, goals and objectives of your prospect. But now it’s your turn to speak. This is where you will have the opportunity to deliver a powerful message directly into the heart and mind of your guest. In contrast to a typical meeting sequence, we will not yet talk about ourselves, our credentials, years of experience, or even portfolio theory, but we will rather continue to focus solely on the investor and “what’s in it for them.” Openly demonstrate your deep understanding of your prospect’s emotional makeup by generically decoding the mind of the affluent investor. Uncover your prospect’s secret fears by walking them through “the primary fears of the wealthy”. You will find that as you speak in general terms, your guest will automatically begin to internalize and associate into those worrying emotions. This is a welcomed development in the discussion, as you will soon be offering the solutions to their exposed concerns. Move now to another generic discussion on the “financial priorities of the wealthy.” Once again, as you discuss the wants and desires of the affluent, in general terms, you will imbed those very same priorities into the neurology of your guest. Of course, as above, you will soon be expertly addressing those expectations, as well.
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• How many steps are in your process? • Why did you choose that approach? In order to maximize the impact of this portion of the meeting, there are two things that need to be done effectively. Firstly, always explain the “why” behind each step of your process. In other words, talk about the important reasons that a particular step has been included in your process. Secondly, always refer back to the fears, priorities and expectations of the wealthy, and explain how your process addresses each one directly. This is also a good time to include a passing mention of your qualifications and years of experience in applying your philosophy with your trusted clients. PHASE 6 | Simplify the Complex – Teach the Fundamentals The process-discussion above will often introduce opportunities to earn significant bonus “units of attraction.” Leonardo da Vinci said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Most investors are completely overwhelmed by the ever-expanding complexity of the capital markets and all things financial. We can easily complicate things even more, but we gain no advantage in doing so. Instead, take the time to simplify complex topics using sequential logic. Strip out investment jargon, capital market-speak, and worthless acronyms while delivering user-friendly information that clarifies. PHASE 7 | Slay the Dragons – Handle Objections During the course of our meetings, we may sometimes become aware, in subtle ways, of unspoken objections or issues residing in our prospect’s psychology. If you gain any sense of these lurking dragons, take the opportunity to slay them while they are still small and not yet breathing fire.
Unspoken objections (baby dragons) are given life and ferocity the moment they are spoken. Something happens through the creative power of the spoken word, when an investor formulates the words of an objection, speaks them out loud, and hears the sound of their own voice while doing so. It’s true that most spoken objections can be readily dismantled and addressed, but why even wait for them to gain strength? Slay them quickly and easily by carefully addressing known objections as you calmly incorporate them into your conversations. PHASE 8 | Open the Floor – Answer Questions Although you’ve likely been answering questions throughout your session, it’s now time to formally open the floor to address anything else your guest would like to know. Fortunately, most investors will often choose just two or three questions from a fairly predictable list. Below are some typical examples of questions that may arise in a first meeting with a prospect: • How would I pay for your services? • How much do you charge? • How many clients do you have? • Who is your typical client? • What are your qualifications? • How long have you been doing this? • What is your performance track record? • What kind of return can I expect? • Would you work with my accountant or lawyer?
• A complimentary (or paid) wealth management review • A follow-up meeting along with their accountant and/or attorney • The creation of a comprehensive financial plan • Booking a time to complete account opening and transfer documentation Assuming that the prospect is a good fit with your business model, and that you feel comfortable with the budding relationship, clearly state your call-to-action, while telegraphing your acceptance of them as a potential new client. PHASE 10 | Finish Strong – The Last Impression At this point we’ve come full circle and, just like the two ends of a fine, handcrafted bookshelf, our strong first impression needs to be replicated and reaffirmed by the last impression we deliver. During the Initial Impact session, both parties will gain tremendous insight into the goals, objectives and expectations of the other. But it will ultimately be the first and last impressions of you that will remain top of mind once your guest has left the building. Finish strong by re-delivering the same structural components you delivered at very start of the meeting: • Warm smile • Confident body language • Eye contact
• Firm handshake • Say the name of the client
• How often would we meet? Take the time to work through each one of these. Formulate and practice your responses until they flow naturally and can be delivered with a calm confidence.
As you do so, remember to express sincere gratitude to your guest for making the time to share their personal story with you.
PHASE 9 | Define the Future – Explain the Next Steps
Putting it all Together:
The first meeting is all about determining whether a prospect is a good fit with your practice or not. By this point of the session, you should both have a fairly solid understanding of each other, and will be able to start making some fundamental decisions.
As you consider and evaluate each phase of the Initial Impact Sequence, you will find yourself automatically challenging and refining your own approach. Each component of the model contains powerful fundamental principles that can be easily transferred into any client-facing communication. I encourage you to play with it, personalize it, and make it your own.
As you apply the 10 Phase Initial Impact sequence, you will find that many prospects will proactively ask you how they can become your next client. But if that doesn’t happen, it will be your responsibility to clearly define the next steps, and to explain how things will unfold from here. Investors are looking for guidance and direction, and your prospect will be evaluating your ability to lead – even during that first meeting. Based on the unique flow, content, and “feel” of your session, you can now make an educated judgment call as to the most appropriate next steps for you and your guest. Some examples are: • Suggest the submission of investment account statements for evaluation • A follow-up meeting to discuss other topics
Grant Shorten is Director of Strategic Insights at Renaissance Investments. He offers insights and approaches that will work with your clients and have an immediate impact on your practice. www.advisor.ca/togo Podcast > How to Impress Prospective Clients Video > Awesome First Meetings – The Initial Impact Model www.renaissanceinvestments.ca/en/practicemanagement/
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