Your financial planning client’s attention is essential to making the process meaningful and a good investment for them. You want them to be fully engaged and do their best thinking in your meetings.
Yet we also live in a society where an ever-increasing number of things are competing for our attention. People have shorter and shorter attention spans.
So, how do you capture and keep your financial planning client’s attention?
This article shares 10 reliable ways to engage your clients and increase the value of your client interactions.
1. Ensure YOUR quality of attention is exceptionally high
There are many stories about the charisma of former US president Bill Clinton. Part of his magic was that, whether you agreed with his politics or not, he made people feel as though they were the most important person in the room.
A significant part of this is his exceptional quality of presence and attention. Yet this is something available to us all.
Tim Ferriss wrote in a blog post about Clinton:
“We are living in a world where no one, it seems, has attention for anyone or anything for more than a few moments. How rare it is when someone pays attention to us. Consider the wording of the phrase: pay attention. In industrialized nations, at least, attention is becoming almost as scarce a resource as money. Someone who “pays” it to you is giving you something of true value.”
2. Be an exceptional listener
Listening to another human being as though they were the most important things in the world in that moment is powerful. Why? Because so few people listen in this way. Most people listen to respond and so they are occupying their mental bandwidth with their own thinking whilst they are listening.
My experience is that learning to listen with nothing on your mind takes practice and revisiting often. Yet it is essential if you want to build deeper relationships.
3. Ask your financial planning client’s questions that no one else thinks to ask
The opposite of asking questions is making assumptions and most people make far too many assumptions. Do we really know what someone means when speaking to us? Or would it be better to ask?
A simple yet powerful question is “What do you mean?” Often, the value in asking this is that the speaker must clarify what they mean, and it causes them to pause and reflect.
4. Do the unexpected
The legendary Ben Feldman was the highest producing life insurance salesman in the world for many years. One of the things he did when meeting a new client was have a load of $100 dollar bills fall out of his folder in front of the client. He understood how to get someone’s attention.
I’m not suggesting you do this. However, you can come up with creative ways to get someone’s attention that make you different from everyone else. When meeting a business person in his or her office I would sometimes ask if I could bring my chair round to their side of the desk and sit next to them. No one objected and it always positively shifted the energy.
5. Stay in the world of your client
Most people are not interested in the detail and technicalities of pensions, investments, and financial products. Yet it is surprising how many financial professionals seem to think they are!
The technical aspect of financial planning is your world. As soon as we start bringing our world and what matters to us into a conversation it is easy to start losing someone. What people want is for you to be interested in them.
6. Your very first question sets the direction
I was fortunate to train with the brilliant Dr. Christina Hall several times. Chris drummed into you to set the direction of a conversation with your very first question.
For me, I want to know why someone is giving up their valuable to be in the meeting. So, rather than make assumptions, be direct. For instance, ask your financial planning client’s, “What do you most want to get from our time together today?”
7. Emotionally engage your client
What makes an experience memorable, meaningful, and potentially transformational is the degree of emotional engagement.
Conversations conducted on an ‘intellect to intellect’ basis are just an exchange of information and have little impact. The starting point for emotional engagement is to be sincerely interested in discovering what really matters to your client.
8. Be unattached to the outcome
Concerning yourself with the outcome of a meeting will almost certainly lower the tone and feeling of connection you are able to establish.
Attachment to the outcome, meaning you are placing your sense of well-being on it ‘going your way’, is underpinned with fear and insecurity. Clients will pick up on this and it contaminates the relationship.
9. Come from a place of love
Psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross suggested there are only two basic human emotions. Love and fear.
Ultimately, business is about relationships, and it is not fluffy or ‘touchy-feely’ to think about it in terms of the love we bring. Love is a way of being in the world and it is the most transformational thing of all.
10. Do not be afraid to challenge your clients
With deep trust and rapport (coming from love) you can say just about anything, and it will land well with the person.
It is a certainty that your clients will have thinking, ideas, and behaviours that are destructive and work against them. So, calling them out, with kindness, is powerful and will get their attention.
So, there are 10 ways to capture and keep your financial planning client’s attention. This is far from an exhaustive list, and you can no doubt think of more.
The most important thing is being aware that deeply engage your clients will significantly increase the value of your relationship.
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