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Don’t Do Things By Halves

First Meeting Mistake 9: Doing the perfect first meeting…to only one person

You conduct an exemplary first meeting. You are asking searching and interesting questions. You listen carefully to the answers, and note their significance. You even explain some quick wins in cash, and tell the prospective client your fees in a confident tone. Perfect…except for one thing: you presented to only one member of a couple, and not both of them together.

Try to avoid this at all costs.

I know this can be tricky, and it adds extra work at the start of your process as you often have to fight (figuratively speaking) to get both partners in the same room at the same time, but, believe me, it’s worth it.

There are a couple of important reasons why both partners need to attend the first meeting.

Scenario 1

Let’s say you are highly skilled at running fabulous first meetings. They are legendary, and you’re known for engaging the potential clients very strongly. What happens when you only present to one half of the couple?

The (by now) very excited person who attended the meeting goes home or calls their spouse or partner and tries to convey in 2 minutes what you have just spent the last 90 minutes communicating nicely with your questions.

The listening spouse who wasn’t at the meeting then says, “OK, but how much will it cost?” Their partner gives them the good news that it will only cost £1,000 for the initial advice and the phone goes silent. After some further discussion the whole thing can leave everyone feeling pretty deflated.

The person who attended the meeting now feels like their buy-in has been a waste of time, or that perhaps they had got it wrong and you weren’t that good after all.

Two outcomes are likely:

They don’t come back, or

Partner 1 brings partner 2 in, to hear it from the horse’s mouth, and you have to do it all again. That’s now two first meetings.

Scenario 2

I’m no expert on couple dynamics, but my layman’s observation (and personal experience) is that we tend to be with people who complement us, meaning they are often different to us.

The sort of financial decisions you are going to get involved in at the first meeting, once you start asking your great questions, will require input from both members of the couple. That means that you will need the two halves of the whole to get a sensible discussion and decision on anything meaty.

Don’t be fooled by the person who claims they make the financial decisions in the household. Whilst it might even be true that they take care of the money stuff because their partner prefers not to be involved in it, you and I know this is not a discussion about ‘money’ stuff. It is a discussion about how-you-want-to-live-your-life stuff. That requires the involvement of both people because they will have their own personal goals outside of the couple, as well as their joint goals within their relationship.

Every adviser knows these things to be true, but I can’t believe the number of advisers who meet with only one member of the couple. So work on your skills in this area and get yourself in front of both people at the first meeting. The more effort you can make here, the more effective your first meetings will become.

By Brett Davidson

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