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Ask These Pandemic Questions

It’s my view that the pandemic will have broad ramifications on the advisory business.  No one can predict the extent of those changes, which is why I believe now is the time for you ask your prospects and clients questions.  The answers will be invaluable as you formulate your plans for the future.

The premise

The premise of my advice is that you formulate the questions rather than prepare an agenda prior to your next meeting.  Why is that important?

I’m preparing to give a webinar to a large group of advisors.  One of the questions I’m asking them is:  When you interact with others, what’s the percent of time you spend conveying information compared to eliciting it?

For most people, the overwhelming majority of their interaction consists of conveying information.  Personally, I can’t remember the last time anyone asked me a question in a non-business setting.

Consider this:  You learn nothing when you information. Ask question is a valuable opportunity to acquire information.

That’s one of the reasons why asking questions is so important.

Proposed questions

1. How often would you like to interact with me?

Many advisors assume meeting periodically (like quarterly) is optimal.  That may be true for some clients, but not others.  When I’ve had my advisor clients do surveys, they’ve been stunned at how infrequently most clients want to meet.

Your job is not to impose a schedule on your clients.  It’s to be responsive to their needs.

2. How would you like to interact?

Pre-pandemic, this wasn’t an issue.  Now there are many options: Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, in-person (observing CDC guidelines) and on the phone. 

Clients who previously didn’t know Zoom from a broom, are now much more tech savvy, out of necessity. 

Now is the time to learn their preferences.

3. How would you like our meetings structured?

Many advisors believe they know what should be discussed at a client meeting.  Some even send out an agenda in advance.  Often, the last item is “questions?”

This could not be more wrong-headed.

The purpose of a client meeting is to discuss what on the client’s mind, not what’s on yours.  That’s why I recommend starting every meeting by asking this question:  What would you like to talk about today?

If you believe it’s important to discuss something the client didn’t bring up, you can do so, like this:  We didn’t talk about estate planning.  I’m prepared to have that discussion.  Is that something you’d like to address today?

Let it be the client’s choice; not yours.  

I’m sure you can come up with additional questions.  You’ll be surprised by what happens when you abandon your agenda and ask genuine questions intended to find out what’s on the mind of your client. 

Try it and let me know how it works for you.

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