Three Traps for Unwary Advisors

Originally published on Advisor Perspectives, July 31, 2017

Advisors fall for one of three traps. Those traps share a common trait, which will become apparent.

Read on to see if this applies to you.

Trap #1: Lack of interactivity

An article in The New York Times observed that producers of children’s television shows understood the key to holding the attention of their audience. It’s “interactivity.” The article gave these examples: Dora the Explorer asks kids to repeat after her (“Swiper, no swiping!”). Mister Rogers broke the fourth wall to welcome them to his neighborhood. The hosts of “Romper Room” pretended to see them through a “magic mirror,” and read their names on the air.

Most of us think of television as a one-way media event, yet these savvy producers knew they had to involve their audience in order to make an impact.

Think about that the next time you speak to an audience or meet with a prospect. Rather than talking at them, converse with them.

When I get an inquiry from a prospect for my coaching services, my first response is this: “Tell me about yourself and your firm.” I want them to interact with me and not to listen passively while I discuss myself and my services.

Trap #2: Fear of a pause

A fascinating blog post by Lennox Morrison on summarized research on the effect of pauses in conversations. English-language speakers are most uncomfortable with gaps (defined as more than a second or two) in conversations.

Yet, Morrison noted that, “knowing when to be tight-lipped can give you the upper hand in everything from sales deals and pay negotiations to presentations and staff development.”

One expert noted that when he paused for three to five seconds after making a pitch, “what happens is remarkable.” Another told of an experience where she was interviewing for a job and was offered it immediately. The interviewer named a salary. She said she would think about it and get back to him and then said nothing. When he raised the offer, she again demurred. Finally, he increased his offer by 20% over the initial offer. She accepted.

Apply the power of silence when you deal with a prospect. If there’s an objection to your fee, consider nodding (indicating you’ve heard the objection) but say nothing. Wait for the prospect to speak again. You may find the prospect overcomes her own objection and moves on to another topic.

Trap #3: Not asking enough questions

A recently published Harvard study validated a critical component of The Solin Process℠.

In one experiment, people who asked more follow-up questions in a speed-dating setting were asked on more second dates. Second dates were considered “a straightforward indicator of interpersonal liking.” Other studies found the “follow-up question rate” correlated positively with “liking from one’s partner.”

The conclusion of the study was unequivocal: People spend most of their time during conversations talking about their own viewpoints and tend to self-promote when meeting people for the first time. In contrast, high question-askers – those who probe for information from others – are perceived as more responsive and are better liked.

To improve your conversion rate, stop talking about yourself and ask more questions.

So, what do these three traps have in common? Each of them requires you to restrain from pursuing your agenda and to elicit information from your prospect. This supports another of my mantras: If you’re talking, you’re losing.

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