Sidney C. Walker
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October 2013

Top Three Things Clients
Want from an Advisor

by Sidney C. Walker


I have seen a lot of studies in my thirty plus years coaching financial advisors. The studies that ask people what they want from their financial advisor always have similar conclusions. Furthermore, it has always been interesting to me that very few sales cultures ever pay any attention to these studies.

The top three things that clients want from a psychological standpoint are: 1. Trust (an advisor they can trust); 2. Focus on the client's interests or talk about what is important to the client; and 3. No sales pressure.

Trust is an interesting one. What is trust? Are you saying that you want to be able to trust an advisor who is trying to sell you something? Or, do you want an advisor who is going to show you the issues you face, educate you on the options available to you, and then let you pick the option that feels right to you? I would prefer the latter myself. I don't trust anyone who is trying to sell me something. I don't see how they can have my true interests at heart. I want to work with an advisor who makes helping me get what I want, whatever that is, more important than the commission. I have proven you actually make a lot more money with this style approach, more than double any other more aggressive style.

Letting the client talk about what is of most interest to him or her is generally not taught. Everyone gets trained to pitch the latest and greatest solution to peoples financial problems along with telling people how wonderful your service and/or your company are. The truth is no one pays much attention to what you have to offer until you show people that you care about them. And I mean show people that you care about them as people not as buying units. How do you do that? You ask questions. You let your potential client talk. You listen. I have always lived by Larry Wilson's line from Counselor Selling of the 1970's, "People buy because they feel you understand them." I don't think that's the first thought most advisors have going into an initial meeting with a potential client. It should be!

Get rid of the sale pressure. This is one of my favorite things to teach. It is so powerful. I have a rule that says the more room you give people not to buy anything, the more they start looking for things to buy. That is not a "take away" strategy, which has it's place. What I am talking about is when you actually tell people they don't have to buy anything for you to help them and for you to be friends. When you tell people they don't have to buy anything and mean it, the relationship dramatically changes.

This is different than saying to people, "I am not here to sell you anything." I don't like that statement. It is a misrepresentation to say you don't have anything to sell. What you say instead is, "Of course I have a lot of products for sale but that is not a requirement for me to help you and for you and I to be friends." Or another favorite, which I made up for one of my top clients, "I'm so low-key you'll have to let me know if you want to buy something." The guy who uses that line is one of the biggest players in the game and he sold more than ever when he started using that phrase.

Try this approach on for size. Show people the financial issues they are going to face. Find out which issues they care enough about to invest some time and money to create a better situation. Educate them enough so they understand their options and can make some sound decisions. Finally, as a team, create a couple of strategies that will improve their situation and then let them pick the one they like the most. In other words, get them to take some action based on what they said they wanted. This is the approach of the most successful (relationship-oriented) advisors in the financial services business.

Interestingly, most advisors don't start out with this approach. However, this is the approach that emerges for the super stars after a lot of trial and error. If this is where you are going to end up anyway, why not embrace the power of this approach today! Yes, it's different. It's easier. It's way more profitable. Your clients will love you and refer you. And it's a lot more fun than pushing people to buy. You get to chose how you approach this business (which is why I coach financial advisors). What feels right to you?

Have a productive October,

(424) 228-5575 (Los Angeles, California)



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