Originally published on Advisor Perspectives
“I already do that.”
A critical component of The Solin Process℠ is asking questions. When advisors tell me they ask questions, I ask them to provide examples. Here are some common ones:
What are your retirement goals?
What keeps you up a night?
What has your prior investment experience been like?
While these are questions, they’re not consistent with The Solin Process℠. They are intended to steer the conversation. The subtext is that the advisor is in charge of the meeting and will set the agenda.
The Solin Process℠ achieves the opposite goal. It puts the prospect in charge of the agenda, and lets the conversation go wherever the prospect wants to take it. The advisor makes no effort to do anything other than to get to know and understand the prospect better, by asking soft, open-ended questions, and appropriate follow-ups, like:
Tell me about yourself.
That’s interesting, tell me more about that.
What was that experience like?
(To a couple) How did you meet?
Advisors who implement The Solin Process℠ correctly shift their focus from being interesting to being interested. They demonstrate a profound, authentic and sincere interest in the other person, and resist the temptation to talk, unless they are asked a question. If that occurs, they answer briefly and then ask this question:
Did I answer your question or would you like more detail?
A second critical component of The Solin Process℠ is not persuading. This is very difficult given the intense competition advisors face from their peers.
Advisors frequently ask how they can respond to the following questions, without violating my “don’t persuade” rule:
How do you justify your fees?
What makes you different?
Compare these suggested responses to ones you typically provide.
Q. How do you justify your fees?
A. I can tell you what services we provide and the value we seek to add, but only you can decide what our fees are worth your situation.
Q. What makes you different?
A. Can you elaborate on what comparison you are seeking? We may or may not be very different from advisors and financial planners who use the same investment philosophy. We are likely to be quite different from those who engage in practices such as market timing or stock picking.
If the prospect provides clarification indicating they want to know how you are different from another firm offering similar investment and financial planning services, this would be your response:
A. I can’t differentiate ourselves from that firm because I don’t know enough about them. Would it be helpful if I answered your questions about what we do, why we do it and what we charge, and then you can compare us to other firms?
In these examples, note the emphasis on asking questions, without seeming to evade a response, and shifting the burden from the advisor to the prospect. There’s no effort to persuade. You are providing information so the prospect is empowered to make a decision.
It’s a very counter-intuitive – but powerful and respectful – way to convert a prospect into a client.