The Only Three Things Financial Planners Need to Say in the First Meeting
There are only three things that should be coming out of our mouths in the first call or first meeting with prospective clients. This is for two reasons:
- One, it makes it easier for us, because we've only got three things to do
- Two, and more importantly, it delivers the best result for our prospective clients. It builds rapport and they leave the meeting better than when they came in
When we started doing this at Streamline, we saw a noticeable change in how these meetings went and a change in how these people decided to go from perspective client to becoming a client. In this post, I’ll share the three things and then also the mistake that most advisors make in the first meeting.
The Goal of the First Meeting
Prospective clients that we talk to are looking for help, they have some sort of problem, and they’re hoping that we know how to solve it. It seems logical that we’d want to show how we can help them and give them some solutions. We can also be tempted to show our value in the first meeting! I did this for the first seven years, but once I stopped, and focused on the three things I’m about to share, meetings went ten times better.
The only way clients will fully receive our advice and recommendations is if they know and feel that we truly know what their problems are. The reason they work with you is the result of how understood they feel. Move away from problem-solving in the first meeting and instead focus on connecting and understanding. Then you can truly diagnose their problem and communicate the solution in the next meeting.
Before we get into the three things, I want to acknowledge that it’s tempting to want to communicate your value right off the bat. We have steps at Streamline that work to share our value while also growing the relationship. If you'd like our entire process on how to do this, click here for a free training.
The Only Three Things
You and I both know that questions are important in a first meeting, but there are some specific questions that work better than others. I did another video recently with the best first meeting questions, you can view it by clicking here. Also, one of the modules in the Advisor Value Formula has our entire framework of the questions we ask and to ask them.
While the client is talking, write down important things they say because you’re going to use that in this meeting, and also in future meetings. Repeating what they said is kind of a magic way to have them feel really understood and like you truly get them. It’s actually called mirroring and it’s a powerful persuasion strategy. But just by repeating their words back to them, you’re also understanding them in a deeper way.
Stories and Anecdotes
Tell stories that communicate the problems the clients are expressing and how you have clients with similar problems or situations as them. These stories illustrate what they will experience as a result in working with you. Because we mostly work with people in similar phases of life, close to or in retirement, we have about five stories that come up often that we choose from.
You’ll have to use your own stories based on your own experience. If you want more detail on this, I do go deeper into why we chose some of the specific stories that we use in the Value Formula course.
What Not to Say
Did you notice that none of the above first-meeting talking points were educating the prospective clients or solving their problems in the first meeting? As advisors, we know very soon in the first meeting what we can do to help our prospects. Right away we know what the answer is. Because we like helping people, we’ll start to talk about solutions. That’s a noble thing to do, but we have to fight the urge to teach or give advice on the first call. It’s not easy, but it’s important.
If you start out trying to provide solutions right away, it only detracts from the objective of the meeting. First, we have to make sure they feel understood and that we have a connection. If we do, they’ll be ready to receive our advice and recommendations in the next meeting, the One-Page Plan delivery meeting.
One other thing that may come up is if the prospective client asks a lot about your firm or asks questions that detract from the flow of the meeting? Obviously, you want to answer their questions. How we do it, when prospective clients ask about the firm, is with an anecdote. We have about seven bullet points that we want to share, but we have them in the form of a story about our firm. So it falls under the third category of anecdote and helps to get the meeting back on track.