SUMMARY: Humanizing your practice allows you to make deeper connections and build trust with prospects and clients. The simplest way to humanize your practice is to have great conversations with every person you encounter in the context of your work. Along with that, adding personal touches in follow-up can strengthen those bonds with your clients.
People don’t interact with businesses. They interact with other people. In a business environment full of automation and outsourcing, a touch of humanity can truly set you apart from the competition.
One of the best ways to humanize your practice is to have excellent conversations with every prospect and client you interact with — and to personalize as many follow-up touch points as possible. Let’s look at some ways you can humanize your practice through every opportunity in your client relationships.
Recently, I had entrepreneur and conversation expert Ivan Farber on the Model FA podcast. In part 1 of our podcast conversation, we discussed that it’s essential to research the prospect before the first interaction and find out more about them.
By learning about the prospect ahead of time, you can prepare some quick conversation topics about things that excite the prospect and get them talking. This makes you feel fully human and less like “just” a financial advisor.
One of the best ways to discover clients’ hobbies and interests is to connect with them or follow them on social media. LinkedIn is a good start. Following clients on social media can also give you insight into how the client communicates, so you can adapt how you communicate and listen during client meetings.
In the second episode of my podcast conversation with Ivan, he laid out a five-step process (called the CLEAR method) for guiding the conversation with a client toward what the client really wants. CLEAR stands for Create, Learn, Explore, Address, and Resolve. Here is how the method works.
First, you must create an opener to get the conversation going.
Money is intensely personal, so you don’t want to open the conversation by jumping to the most sensitive topics. Instead, stick with a consultative opener. An example of this would be, “I’m fully prepared to talk with you about our company, services, and how we can help you to focus the conversation on you. However, I would rather start with you. What brings you here today?”
This approach lets you set the agenda and demonstrate confidence — and still gives the prospect room to share what prompted them to seek you out. You may be able to work in some mentions of their hobbies and interests where appropriate here as small talk. This could help build some instant rapport with the client.
Next, you have to learn more about your prospect by asking open and closed-ended questions at the correct times — and actively listening to their answers.
Open-ended questions are used for gathering facts, information, feelings, and motivations. They steer the conversation toward learning more about the prospect. An open-ended question is typically experienced as less threatening. In essence, you are allowing the prospect to take the wheel and steer the conversation in whatever direction serves them best. As much as possible, try to open your questions with “what” as opposed to “why” (the latter can feel accusatory and cornering).
Closed-ended questions are “yes/no” questions that gain agreement with the prospect. These questions don’t leave the prospect or client much room to maneuver, so it is best to save them for the latter part of the conversation.
Throughout the conversation, you must listen actively. That means paying close attention to what the prospect is saying, then paraphrasing it and repeating it back to them to show that you understand what they’re telling you. As much as possible, try to use their own words.
After the Learn stage, you should dig into what the client wants. One way to do that is through asking hypotheticals about what they would want out of a collaboration with an advisor. This part of the conversation can help you uncover what they really need — and get them to lay out the criteria they need an advisor to meet before moving forward with their choice. It is also a good opportunity to ensure that the prospect is a good fit for your service model, offering, and personality.
Even if the prospect doesn’t become a client, these hypotheticals can be useful in helping you see what a potential client is looking for in an advisor. Don’t focus as much on any one conversation but look for trends instead.
Prospects may come up with objections as you talk about your services. In order to close the sale, you have to address and diffuse these objections.
The most important thing about this stage is to not be dismissive of the client’s concerns — but instead to validate and welcome them. After all, it is better for the advisor to have an opportunity to address an objection first-hand (rather than have the prospect walk off and disappear from the radar because they could not get comfortable with their unvoiced concerns). Ivan Farber goes much further into the types of objections and how to overcome each one in his book, Conversations. I highly recommend the book because it covers so much more about having good conversations, as well.
Finally, it’s time to close the conversation and agree on next steps. If you seek agreement with your client along each step of the CLEAR process, this part should be simple.
Your email messages are a great spot to build more rapport, especially if you uncovered your client’s interests through social media and conversation.
Use the P.S. section to recommend things the client may be interested in. For example, you might recommend a relevant book or a podcast based on your conversation in your most recent meeting. If you learn that your client enjoys cooking, for instance, you could perhaps leave them a recipe recommendation in the P.S. section of your email.
Not only will this further humanize you, but you’re adding value outside of their finances. Doing this will make you much more memorable to your client.
Using email to follow-up is great, but you can add even more value and impact to your clients’ lives with video follow-up.
Shoot a Loom video of your client’s financial plan, so they can look at it whenever they’d like. In the video, go over everything broadly, using questions they might ask to guide you in determining what to say.
If your client has a spouse that wasn’t present in the meeting, make sure to address them in the Loom video. The video gives them a chance to see what they missed and make their voice heard in the financial planning process.
If you’re looking for ideas and advice on how to better connect with prospects and humanize your business, reach out to me. You can schedule a call here: https://www.modelfa.com/accelerator-call-cf/