By Jack Singer, Ph.D., guest columnist
Scott has been doing well in his financial advising career for many years. He understands how to how follow up on leads and referrals and how to offer excellent service to his clients. Yet, he’s amazed at how much more successful his colleague, Michael, is, when Scott puts much more time and sweat into his work than Michael seems to. Michael’s book of business and new referrals is growing much faster than Scott’s. What is missing in Scott’s approach?
The key difference between Scott and Michael’s approaches is the fact that Michael has learned to be an “active listener.” He uses the T.R.I.U.M.P.H.S. model to help him maximize his client services, and even when he is not dealing with clients, it is a powerful technique that helps him communicate effectively with his wife and teenagers,
Here are the components of client T.R.I.U.M.P.H.S.:
T Treat your client/customer with respect and value. Developing rapport with the client/prospective client is a crucial first step. Smile, position yourself at the same level (sitting or standing, depending on what the client/customer is doing), and slightly lean toward him, maintaining eye contact. Make sure your cell phone is on silent and you can give undivided attention to the customer. Have your calls put on hold while meeting with the client.
Listen to what the prospective client is saying and don’t shuffle papers or start thinking about your response. Just listen to him. Regardless of what the person asks, don’t fall into the trap of thinking you need to answer immediately. It’s ok to say, “That’s a great question. Give me a day or so to research our products to find the one that precisely addresses your question.”
Some ongoing and prospective clients can be long-winded, nervously asking a lot of questions, especially regarding expensive investments and products. Cutting him off may lose you the rapport you need to develop. Always give the speaker the courtesy of finishing a point before you interject yours. It’s perfectly fine to take notes so you won’t forget what you wanted to say, while the client is making his points.
R Reflect the meaning of what your client is telling you before you actually respond. The best way to understand your client/prospective client is to make sure you are listening carefully and the best way to do that is to reflect or paraphrase what you heard her say before you comment on it. An example is, “What I’m hearing is that you are not certain that this product will serve your needs at this particular time.”
I “I statements” are powerful ways to communicate. As you paraphrase and reflect back what the client is saying, you can use “I statements,” which are very powerful. For
example, “I am getting the feeling that you are uncomfortable with this product and would like some other options.” For you to start with “You” would be much more threatening to the client. “You don’t like this product?”
It is important to realize that by understanding what the listener is saying, doesn’t mean necessarily agreeing with him. You are simply showing that you are hearing his concerns. Example, “Fred, I hear your concerns because of your last experience with a similar product. Let me get the information you will need to make you feel better about this.” Always acknowledge the speaker and his position before voicing your opinion.
U Understand the needs and goals of your client. If you are genuine and sell quality products that will truly satisfy your client’s needs and desires, she will trust you. That includes not selling her the most expensive product if you believe it is not right for her or her family situation. Nothing gains trust more than you being honest with clients.
M Monitor the tone and mannerisms of the prospective customer. Body language is so important that studies point out that only a small percentage of what is “heard” by a listener are the words of the speaker. Most of what is “heard” by the listener is tone of voice, smiling, facial expressions, vocal inflections, etc. Watch for all of these indices of your client’s mood and attitude. You might even wait for a pause and make an interpretation of what you are sensing. An example is, “I am feeling as if you believe that I am trying to force you to buy this product. Is that what’s going on in your head, Alice?”
P Probe gently and with respect. Your job is to try to understand what your client needs and how you can accommodate those needs. The only way to show people that you have exactly the product to satisfy those needs is to ask gentle questions about their goals and hopes (related to your product). An example is, “If you could have the ideal product to make you feel safe during these economic times, what features would it have to have?”
H Help your client feel safe in the conversation. For major purchases, such as insurance policies and annuities, clients need to feel safe discussing ther specific money issues. Gently probing about personal and family situations that affect their pocket book requires them being able to trust you. This entails ensuring confidentiality and showing genuine concern for their needs. If you expect them to share their biggest fears and insecurities, you must focus in on what they’re saying, be sensitive and assure them that your goal is to help them to meet their goals.
S Summarize. You’d be amazed at how much you show the speaker that you are listening by frequently summarizing what you just heard. This will also help you to focus and remember what the speaker is telling you. If you have hit the key points in your summary, the speaker will feel validated and closer to you. If you missed key points that he is trying to convey, he can inform you about that at this time. Practice this with friends and family. It’s easy to get the hang of it and it really works!
Developing and sticking to this TRIUMPHS model will surely grow your business consistently!
Dr. Jack Singer is a Professional Sport Psychologist who works exclusively with financial advisors to show them how to dramatically reduce their stress and supercharge their business.” He is a keynote speaker for advisor conferences and the author of the “must have” book, “The Financial Advisor’s Ultimate Stress Mastery Guide,” which you can order at : http://advisingtheadvisors.com/the-book/ Email:firstname.lastname@example.org