Connecting with Stories

The pressure to develop new clients always stares us in the face—normally on Monday morning!  As the manager who hired me wisely taught, “new relationships are oxygen to your business.”  We all know it and yet the vast majority of advisors in our firm and all firms have zero—that’s 0, nada, no—net growth in any given year.  

The temptation on a call is to create quick rapport, keeping the other person on the phone, getting them to talk.  Because we eat what we kill, we ask the qualifying questions early: Are you working with an advisor?  What level of investible assets do you have?  Are you satisfied with performance?  May I offer a complementary review of your portfolio?  The lead questions tend to focus on whether the person—friend or stranger—is someone we could serve.

What if you went another way?  One of the most powerful tools in what I would call conversational science is disarming the other person’s expectations.  They hear “financial advisor,” “performance,” “satisfaction,” “review” and intuit you are like all the other advisors who’ve called in the last 10 years.

In my book, Cadence of Care, I advocate for another way.  Start by saying, “Ms. Prospect, the most important aspect of my relationships with clients is getting to know them, learning their story, and having as complete an understanding of their lives as possible.  My purpose in our getting together for a visit will be focused on our learning each other’s story.  I want to know more about you, your family, values, dreams, and most of all, what matters to you.”  

Then come the disarming sentences: “I know it’s not what you expect, but please don’t bring your statements to this first meeting.  In fact, we might meet, have coffee, get to know each other, and not look at statements the first couple of times we meet.  My goal is for us to get to know each other and see if there are connections we make that could build a foundation of our working together.”

The public is not hearing this script from anyone.  My experience in building new business has taught me that if you lead with performance, the trending sector, the idea, you must forever base your relationship with that client on those ever-changing realities.  On the other hand, if you lead with story, genuinely listening to and learning from another person’s history—what is meaningful, dreams, fears, family, profession in their life, not yours!—a bridge builds between two lives.

Advisors who invest in knowing their own story while learning the stories of those they serve build bonds with clients no hiccup in the markets can shake.  To know another’s story in all its triumphs and disappointments is to place in your hands a priceless tool to become an advisor whose care-centric approach is transformational.  Lead with story.  Better yet, put Cadence of Care in your hands and learn how this approach creates a transformational experience for you and your clients.   

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