Your first introduction and meeting with a prospective client is incredibly important. We all know that. What you may not know, is that there’s a better way to ensure a successful first meeting than the standard approach which might include a proposed portfolio allocation ready to show. Many advisors go this route because they want to make sure they have something concrete to talk about.
What if however, there was a better way that would still yield concrete conversation? The key is to speak less, listen more, and ask an array of open-ended questions. Understanding where they are and where they’ve been is critical. The first formal meeting with a prospect should involve time to go over the prospect’s current portfolio. It is difficult to prepare a dedicated proposal if you don’t know details about what the prospect is already doing.
What You Need to Do Before Anything Else
But before you dive into those details, spend enough time asking about your prospect’s outside interests. Most people like to speak about their families, their businesses and how they made their wealth. Leverage any research you’ve done prior to the meeting and talk about where they went to school, their hobbies, and what they like to do in their spare time. Once everyone has relaxed and you have developed a rapport, transition to their portfolio.
The next important thing to uncover is what they like about their portfolio. Everyone likes to talk about the positive. Then ask what they wish they had done better. Then, begin to compile more information from several open-ended questions. What are their financial goals for the future? What keeps them up at night? Do they have a family Investment Policy Statement? Do both spouses make the decisions jointly? Are they on the same page? I often find that one spouse is more conservative than the other. In that case, start the conversations about how to navigate those differences? If something happened to them, would they be confident that their spouse or family members would carry out the plan? Are they interested in educating the next generation about the wealth that was created? Usually the prospect will open up when you ask questions like these.
Close Your Meeting Successfully
At the end of the meeting, let them know that you and your firm handle families just like theirs (only if it is true, of course). Let them know their assets will be safe with your firm or where you custody their assets. Be brief. Be succinct. Be confident. Then, explain how you would like to move forward. Indicate that you would like to invest the time to do a full-fledged financial plan, including an optimal asset allocation and cash flow analysis. Be sure to clarify that there will be no charge, and all you ask is that if the proposal is impressive and useful, the prospect will consider using you and your firm. I always end by asking, “Does that sound reasonable?”
More times than not, the prospect answers in the affirmative. Take some time to answer any questions and let the person know that you will take no more than three to five business days to prepare the proposal. Then set up the second meeting to present it in person.
You might not always make the close in that first meeting, but if take that time to invest in getting to know them on a personal level, you will effectively increase your odds.