There are four aims for a good first meeting:
For you to understand something of the client’s issues
For the client to understand the real issues they are facing (which may not be what they came in to see you about in the first place)
For you to demonstrate to the client that they have come to the right place (and that you are a credible and competent person to work with)
For you to set up the terms on which you will do business (so that you can get paid fairly for your expertise)
I still see lots of advisers making mistakes in first client meetings, however if you can recognise them you can eliminate them, and dramatically improve your effectiveness in front of clients (new and existing).
From today, and for the next 9 weeks, I’ll be introducing The Top 10 First Meeting Mistakes, and sharing strategies on how to overcome them.First Meeting Mistake 1: You Talk Too Much
Everyone knows this. Everyone has been taught in early sales training to watch out for it, but everyone still does it.
You’ve heard the line from sales training that says, “You’ve got two ears and one mouth, use them in that proportion”.
If you’ve had any formal sales training another first principle you may have learned is, “If you say it the prospect can disbelieve you, but if they say it, it’s true.” So one of the basic skills of selling anything, is to control the meeting with questions.
The person asking the questions is in charge of the meeting. When you open with something like “What brought you in to see me today?” you are in charge. However, if the client then asks, “Before we get started can you tell me how you charge?” (a perfectly reasonable question) – who is in charge now? They are.
At this point in the meeting you don’t want to be answering client questions because you will be doing all the talking – you’ll get a chance to talk later. So the best response is to simply take back control by deferring and asking them another question. For example, “By the end of our meeting today I will let you know exactly how much the work will cost and exactly how long it will take, but first I just need to understand a little more about your issue. Would you mind if I asked you a couple of questions first?” Most clients will accept this, and now who’s back in control of the meeting?
Telling is not selling
Many advisers are always on the lookout for the killer sentences they can say to clients to explain why they are worth paying a fee to, but those sentences don’t really exist. Rather than telling the client about your qualifications, experience, technical skills, investment process and so on, it would be better to have them tell you what is important. With a sensibly designed proposition you will find that, for most clients, you meet all of their criteria.
Remember, “If you say it the prospect can disbelieve you, but if they say it, it’s true”.
So ask some better open questions, for example:
What value can I add? What does good look like as an outcome here? Is there anything we can’t do? What are the implications of doing nothing? What have you thought of already? What concerns do you have about resolving this issue? How will you measure our performance?
These types of questions will elicit many of the things you are dying to “tell” your prospect or client. Type “open questions” into Google for loads more.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on first meetings. What are your issues? How have you resolved any challenges? Leave a comment in the comments section on my blog or drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.Take Action
If you’d like to work with me directly on addressing your first meeting skills for you or your team drop me a line at email@example.com or give me a call on 0207 431 3663.WebinarsMy latest webinar ‘Fact Finding And Presenting Advice‘ tackling the two forgotten steps in the advice process can be heard here.
In my upcoming Webinar ‘Onboarding Clients Effectively‘ on Monday 2nd September 2013 at 12pm, I’ll be talking about how the best firms ‘onboard’ their clients and sharing some simple strategies. You can preregister to attend here and I look forward to seeing you there!SubscribeIf you would like to subscribe to my blog and receive insights and tips in your inbox each week go to www.fpadvance.com or simply reply to this email by clicking here!