Have you ever had the ideal prospect walk into your office, hear your presentation and say "Thanks, but no thanks" or "I'll think about it" or any one of a myriad of reasons for not getting started?

I have worked with many advisors who can honestly say no, that they close just about every qualified prospect. If that is you, don't fix something that isn't broken.

However, if you believe you have room for improvement then read on. Every advisor needs a sure-fire new client presentation before the ideal prospect walks in and sits across from you. Why spend a lot of effort marketing if prospects just walk through a revolving door?

In this article, I will share the five steps to making a sale. Please remember that the sales ideas I discuss will need to be customized for your situation within the compliance guidelines of your firm.

The five steps to making a sale are:

  1. Make a friend;
  2. Profile the prospect;
  3. Present your services;
  4. Offer a choice; and,
  5. Get a commitment.

You may not need to use all five steps every time you present. You may change the order as needed. I am sharing based on a typical sequence that should help you enroll new clients.
Make a Friend
The first step in your presentation is to make a FRIEND! Is making a friend a logical process? Well, no; 100% NO. It is an emotional process. If you think asking some questions and showing interest in a person is making a friend, you are only half right. You need to help the prospect get in a positive frame of mind right away.

The question is how? Please don't start by hammering the person with questions; they don't even know you yet. Instead, start by sharing some things about you both professionally and personally. It is okay to be a little vulnerable, but don't recite your life story. Maybe things about how long you have been with your current firm, your professional credentials and education, where you went to school, where you live, a little about your family and don't forget, favorite activities or hobbies.

Once you finish, sit back and wait for the prospect to share similar things about themselves. Since you have shared some personal interests, they likely will, too. This is the time to ask things like what is the best thing going on with their hobby, career, family, etc. Asking about the best thing going on will get those positive friendship types of energies flowing.

Three Question Profiling
The next step is to PROFILE the prospect. First, ask if it is acceptable if you ask a few questions to better understand their situation. If you get a yes, these next three questions are critical. If you decide to ask more fine, but please ask these three first:

  • What's most important to you about working with a financial professional?
  • What's the biggest challenge you have had financially in the last three to five years?
  • What would you most like to accomplish from a financial point of view in the next one to three years?

These questions uncover what they value in an advisor, the pain you will need to help them resolve and the short term goal you will need to help them achieve. Write down the answers and then spoon them back when you are finished so they know that you understand.
The Service Factor
After showing that you understand, you will want to share the process used in your firm. Generally, every firm has approved sales literature for this purpose.

After sharing your firm's process, ask the clients' opinion of that process. If it is negative, clarify any concerns. If it is positive, then move on. If your approved sales literature has a list of objectives as well as the process you use, that's even better. After sharing your process, hand the clients the list of objectives and a pen and ask them to circle the three most important ones. Ask what's most important to them about each one and take notes. Now, if you are really in a position to help them attain these things then ask, "If I can help you overcome (restate the challenge they mentioned earlier) to attain (read back the items they just circled) would there be a possibility of us working together? If they say no, find out why not and answer any questions before proceeding. If they say yes, share your service offering.

It's About Choice
A service offering should be a choice of at least two ways to work together. For example, it could be fee-based or commission-based. It could be wealth management services or financial planning services or a combination. It could be working together on an hourly basis or annual fee for advice. The key is it needs to fit on one page, be clearly presented, offer a choice and be very clearly priced. If your firm has approved sales literature, with a menu of services, use it. If not, you may want to create one and submit it for approval.

Getting That Commitment
If the client engages you, please have the paperwork needed to start a relationship ready to be completed. If they hesitate — find out why. Spoon it back to them to make sure you understand. Then, go back and discuss their challenge again to make sure you understand if they want your help and exactly how you would be able to help them.

In summary, you have first made a friend, then conducted a simple three-question profile, you expanded on the process used at your firm and drilled down deeper for details on specifically what they want. You shared your menu of services, and hopefully received a commitment on which type of service the prospect felt was the best fit. I have sample templates which I am happy to send if you request.

Please remember that all sales literature must be approved by your compliance department. Practice a few times with associates before trying out with a prospect.

Todd Colbeck is principal and founder of the Colbeck Coaching Group,
a subsidiary of General Business Center, Inc.
You can reach him at this email address.