Uncover Your Client's Most Important Goals

In this post, I’m going to go over exactly what to say to help clients uncover their most important goals. If you're a financial advisor and you've been meeting with clients for some time, then you may have noticed that some prospective clients have a harder time than others communicating specific goals in the first meeting. Asking, “what are your goals?,” doesn't always work for people. It's a question I've heard that clients dread when talking to advisors for the first time. 

For many, the first goals that come to mind are sometimes the superficial things, which is definitely okay. It's good to have those, but those superficial things don’t always get you to the goals that are truly motivating for your clients or potential future clients. If you can help them uncover those goals that they're really excited about, that can really help them get motivated to make smart money decisions and to get them closer to those goals.

So, rather than asking, “what are your goals?,” ask a different question that is related to outcomes. Goals and outcomes, those seem like the same things, but they're not. I've tested this out and I get a much different response depending on how I ask the question. Focusing on outcomes is a great way to understand right away in the first meeting, whether or not you can actually help them with what they're looking for. It's good for them and it's good for you because you find out early on if the relationship is going to be a good fit.

When I have a call or a Zoom meeting with a potential client for the first time, after the initial getting-to-know-you pleasantries, I ask this question: 

In the event that we end up working together, what kind of outcomes would you want to achieve? 

It's so simple, but it works. They'll think for a moment. And most of the time they will be able to think through what would make working with an advisor ideal for them. Specific and tangible goals usually come out of asking this question, but if you don't get those tangible goals or outcomes that you're looking for, here’s another simple question to ask: 

Are there any tangible goals that you can think of that require money and planning to achieve?

I got that question from Bill Backrack or Carl Richards, and that's exactly what I say. If a potential client is having a harder time coming up with their ideal outcomes or goals around money, that question will help them get ultra-specific on tangible things that they want to see. 

It's worked so well for us in the first meeting, and I believe it's going to work well for you too. But I'm also interested to know what you think. Are there any specific questions that you ask in the first meeting to help clients uncover their goals? Please share with me in the comments below; I'd love to hear from you.


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