Originally published on Advisor Perspectives, June 6, 2018
No two prospects are alike. The same is true with audiences of advisors. I can give the same presentation to two different audiences and get a different reaction. In the past year, I’ve identified which questions have universal appeal. My experience may help you when you meet with prospects.
Best questions for audiences
Every audience responds really well to two questions:
What’s your favorite city and why?
Are you and introvert or an extrovert?
It took me a while to understand why these are universal crowd-pleasers.
These questions require people to talk about themselves in a unique and personal (but pleasant) way. If a city is your favorite city, it’s because of a very positive experience you had there. By asking this question, I’m encouraging you to share that experience.
A central tenet of the Solin Process℠ is that talking about yourself is inherently pleasurable. This principle is backed by solid neuroscience research. I’m tapping into a predictable reaction. You can do the same when interacting with prospects and clients.
In a similar vein, asking an audience to categorize their personality type invites intense self-reflection. This inquiry leads to very natural follow-up queries like, “Why do you believe you’re an introvert/extrovert?”
I have the same experience in smaller workshops when we discuss happiness. The premise for this discussion is the research showing that happy people are more likely to be successful. I go around the room and ask everyone to rate their happiness level from “1” (extremely unhappy) to “10” (extremely happy). While this question literally calls only for a number, participants rarely limit their response. They give a number and then discuss the reasons for their happiness or unhappiness.
When I review feedback from these workshops, talking about happiness gets top reviews.
This is understandable. The discussion of happiness, like the other question, requires sharing personal thoughts and experiences. In the right setting, people find this immensely pleasurable.
A stark contrast
I have choices when I give a presentation. Instead of asking these questions, I could do a PowerPoint presentation. I could discuss the 10 most popular cities in the world, the difference between introverts and extroverts or suggest a number of ways to increase your happiness.
You have a similar choice when you meet with prospects. You can use presentation aids to “educate” prospects. You can discuss technical details about investing, your qualifications or the history of your advisory firm. You can explain how you add value and justify your fees.
Or you could ask open-ended questions (like, “Tell me about yourself”) that empower your prospect to talk and compel you to listen.
Based on my research and experience speaking to advisors all over the world, the choice is clear.
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