One of the most important things you can do for your business is going ‘above and beyond’ to create value for your clients. Understanding your client’s world is fundamental.
Financial Advice is so often delivered in very unimaginative ways that has little difference to how the majority of practitioners deliver it.
So, the ability to deeply understand your client’s world, help them realise more of their potential and, therefore, having them experience you as being different is essential.
The beginning of this understanding comes from listening. True, deep listening.
Knowing when to talk and when to listen is important
Something valuable I learned is to optimise what you already do before bringing in something new. This makes perfect sense, right?
And one of the things you can optimise very easily is the quality of the meetings you have with clients.
There are many ways to do this but one with a great deal of leverage is the skill of listening.
Nothing builds the utmost trust and improves results more than deeply listening, and yet how many of us excel at it?
When you meet with a new or existing client you can either talk or listen. Most people talk far more than they listen.
It was not until a few years ago that I have begun to understand what is required to become an exceptional listener.
I have a friend who was born deaf, and he ‘listens’ through lip reading. All the experts considered that he could not expect to experience improvement in his hearing.
Then something happened that made a bigger difference to his ability to hear than anything ever had previously. He began to hear people more clearly and, whilst his hearing is still impaired, he can communicate significantly better.
So, what happened?
Whilst there is lots of advice in the business world on how to be a better listener, none of it speaks to the fundamental issue. In fact, the often prescribed ‘active listening’ is a hindrance to deep listening.
Your ability to really ‘hear’ what someone else is saying is entirely related to how much of your own thinking you have going on that could be interfering.
My friend had previously had a lot of deeply ingrained, habitual thinking that constantly droned away in his mind. On top of his condition, the noise of his own thinking was also drowning out a lot of his potential to hear.
Once this thinking was gone he could hear so much better than before.
Many people have developed the habit of an almost constantly busy mind. A common habit of professional people is to analyse whilst listening. Others get preoccupied with how a meeting seems to be going.
The internal noise of our own thinking reduces our ability to hear what someone is saying and feel what is behind the words. It stops you understanding your client’s world.
So, the most powerful way to listen is with nothing on your mind.
This takes practice. It is a big shift for many people, but can you think of something that has as much leverage to transform relationships as listening with a genuine desire to understand?
Understand your client’s world and help them get what they want
So if you want to improve the quality of your client meetings, remember to go for deep listening over ‘active listening’.
Clear your head of your own thoughts and listen to your client like you would listen to music. Avoid analysing whilst listening and will better understand their needs and therefore how you can help them.
P.S. I highly recommend the book ‘Time to think’ by Nancy Kline. One of my financial planner clients recently said it was the best book he had ever read.