7 Critical Conversations to Build a 7 Figure Business

7 Critical Conversations to Build a 7 Figure Business

There are critical conversations necessary to engage people in ways that predictably turn leads into prospects, prospects into clients, clients into people who take action on your advice, happily pay you for planning and advice, and refer you to their friends, family, and colleagues.

These conversations are easy to understand but hard to master. Many FAs have a basic level of ability with these conversations, but this article is about elevating from basic ability to virtuoso skillfulness. Consider what could happen to the quality of your client service and the value of your business when you can artfully engage anyone, any time, and anywhere.

Critical Conversation #1: Mastery of the first conversation.

Every future Ideal Client relationship starts with a stranger. However you choose to prospect and market, your ability to engage strangers is critical to your success.

How do you engage a person or couple, in any situation or environment, in a way that inspires them to want to talk to you again without coming across like a schmucky financial salesperson trolling for business?

This skill is about asking the right questions, listening with empathy, hearing what’s most meaningful, important, significant, and compelling to them, and then being able to make an offer to take a simple first step that’s relevant FOR THEM.

Let’s say you’re at a wedding. What’s the obvious first question when you meet someone new, aka: a stranger? “Are you a friend of the bride or the groom?” What’s the next question? “How do you know ________?” And the next question is what really separates the conversation virtuosos from most mortals with decent “social skills.” The typical person asks something superficial like, “what do you and _______ do for fun?” The virtuoso asks a question that’s more meaningful and emotional like, “You and ______ met at an important time in your lives. What did you learn from _______ that has helped you become a better human being?” Listen. Listen with empathy and ask, “and how has that impacted your life?” Continue to listen: “tell me more about that” several times.

This critical conversation process can be implemented as part of any prospecting or marketing strategy and when you meet new people in your normal course of living. Eg: at dinner parties, on the golf course, after church, at a charity event, etc.

The conversation virtuoso has no trouble engaging strangers in ways they position them to speak again… without ever talking about themselves or giving a tired FA “elevator pitch.”

How would mastering this critical conversation help you grow your business with Ideal Clients?

Critical Conversation #2: Mastery at scheduling the appointment.

How do you inspire people, both spouses, to come to your office with all of their financial documents? Given all the demands on their time and all of their options for getting financial education, information, advice, and products… what will be the reason they agree to take the time to get their financial documents together and carve time out of their busy work schedules or retirement activities to come see you?

When they come to see you, what will you do for them that’s valuable whether they become a client or not?

Can you articulate how it’s in their best interest to come to you instead of meeting them in their home or office? What will you say is the benefit for their spouse to be in the meeting if they tell you that they take care of the money and their spouse is not interested in meeting with a financial advisor? How will your meeting be more interesting than discussions about finances, economics, investments, taxes, insurance, or markets?

How would mastering this critical conversation help you grow your business with Ideal Clients?

Critical Conversation #3: Mastery at opening the first face-to-face meeting.

People have embedded in their subconscious minds an imaginary trust dial. And everything you say and do moves the needle on the trust dial one direction… or the other. This is especially important to recognize during the first 45 to 60 seconds of your first face-to-face meeting with a future client. It HAS to be scripted. It has to be scripted word-for-word and you have to practice those words over and over and over again until you are brilliantly effective. Not just at delivering the words, but with the right tonality, the right facial expressions, and with a totally trustworthy way of being.

Do you remember the scene from the movie Jerry McGuire when Renee Zelweiger’s character said, “You had me at hello?” That’s your goal: to have them at hello.

Here’s our script: “Welcome to our office Bob & Susan. The fact that you took the time to gather your financial documents and made time in your busy schedules to be here today makes a statement about the importance you place on making smart choices about your money, is that true?” Pause so they can answer.

“Well, we take it seriously as well. We’ll ask you lots of questions today, take copious notes, and use some tools to help put our discussion in visual perspective. You’ll also notice that we are recording our meeting today. The reason we record is because we are very thorough. Do you know how you can watch a movie a second or third time and see things you didn’t see the first time?” Pause so they can respond. By the way, the answer is always “yes.”

“Well, Bob & Susan, our conversation today is clearly much more important than a movie. Should we decide to work together, my team and I will listen to this recording at least once to make sure that we get our advice…. just right… for you.”

Take a few moments to consider which direction the needle moved on the trust dial, and why, during that 45-second opening.

Can you imagine any virtuoso who does not record and review their performances? How else could you possibly become a virtuoso? You can’t.

How would mastering this critical conversation help you grow your business with Ideal Clients?

Critical Conversation #4: Mastery at making an emotional connection in the face-to-face interview.

What follows the opening is a conversation with each spouse about personal core values. Core values are the emotional why that drive all of their important decisions. Most FAs jump too quickly into asking clients about goals, needs, or wants without laying an emotional foundation of why people want what they want. The skill to set this emotional foundation is crucial. Why always precedes what.

Values are represented by words like security, freedom, family, making a difference in the community or the world, satisfaction, fulfillment, inner peace, oneness with God, happiness, nirvana, etc.

Values are more about being, while goals are more about doing and having.

How would mastering this critical conversation help you grow your business with Ideal Clients?

Critical Conversation #5: Mastery at helping people define clear targets with specific dates and amounts of money wanted.

Goals are the tangible what they want built on the foundation of their values. You can develop the skill to lead an emotionally compelling and inspiring goals conversation about. It’s a skill, an art form actually. And it’s learn-able.

One mistake often made by FAs is that instead of asking a question about goals they suggest goals with statements like, “If you’re like a lot of people in your 40s or 50s or 60s you are probably concerned about retirement.” The risk is that many people have a negative association with the term retirement. During our workshops for prospects and clients, as well as with advisors, I often ask, “How many of you have a negative association with the word ‘retirement?’” It’s common for more than half of them to raise their hands. Then I ask, “what are the words you associate with the term ‘retirement?’” Common responses are: “Uselessness. Unproductive. Death. Out to pasture. No longer relevant. Bored.” I know it’s not your intention, but when you broadcast the “retirement” word you may be moving the needle in the wrong direction, especially with financially successful people who like to work.

Instead ask an open-ended question like, “What’s one of your tangible goals that requires money and planning to achieve?”

How would mastering this critical conversation help you grow your business with Ideal Clients?

Critical Conversation #6: Mastery at financial benchmarking.

This is the skill to handle their financial documents with finesse… without getting deep into the details or the irrelevant stories about the history of each document. This is a 10-minute benchmarking exercise that establishes their current position on the road to achieving their most important goals and fulfilling their most deeply held values. Sometimes the skill is learning what NOT to say. It’s okay to have a thought you don’t express, right? Otherwise, you have LONG meetings that deter people from hiring you. The confused mind says, “We’ll think it over.” Why do they have to think it over? Because there is too much detail to make a decision right now. We value people who simplify our lives and save us time. Are you giving people more information and education than they want or need in order to make a good decision, now, to hire you?

The conversation virtuoso manages the flow so people can make a good decision about hiring you to be their financial advisor today. If more people than you would like are leaving your office to “think it over” you have an opportunity to improve in this area.

How would mastering this critical conversation help you grow your business with Ideal Clients?

Related: The 5 Questions to Ask a Wealthy Prospect

Critical Conversation #7: Mastery to articulate your value promise and make your offer for them to become a client.

This is where the rubber meets the road. If you do not get hired by the clients you would like to get hired by, all of the time and effort up to this point is wasted. This is where you monetize.

How succinctly and effectively can you articulate your value promise? How well can you answer the two simple client questions, “How much does it cost?” and, “What do I get?” without over-explaining the details or giving a lecture that would only interest a graduate student in economics, but bores your prospects and clients to tears.

If you “had them at hello” you can easily lose them here. The conversation virtuoso orchestrates the face-to-face meeting so the client has a great experience and is more inclined to say, “let’s get started” rather than, “We need to think it over.”

The most brilliant financial planning technician, the most savvy investment advisor, the most talented wealth manager, or the most knowledgeable insurance, estate planning, or tax expert does not stand a chance of building an Ideal Clientele without a high level of skill and confidence with these 7 Critical Conversations.

The collective mastery of these 7 Critical Conversations will give you the skill and the confidence to talk to anyone, anytime, anywhere. The skill and confidence to speak with any one, anytime, anywhere is how you get the clients you really want, build the business you really want, and live the life you really want.

Bill Bachrach
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For over 25 years Bill Bachrach has been teaching financial professionals to speak the language of trust and the art of building high-trust client relationships. Beginnin ... Click for full bio

This Is the Best We Can Get With a Booming Job Market? Something Just Isn’t Right

This Is the Best We Can Get With a Booming Job Market? Something Just Isn’t Right

While big job gains are making all the headlines, we see credit card delinquencies at a level last seen in the depths of the Financial Crisis and retail sales contracting over the past three months. This is the best we can get with a booming job market? Something here just isn’t adding up.

The week started off strong out of the gate on Monday in the wake of Friday’s post-payroll rally, but the momentum quickly faded, leaving the S&P 500 down four consecutive days as of Thursday’s close. If it closes in the red again Friday, it will be the longest losing streak in over 16 months going back October 31st, 2016. We dug into the details of the recent data and in this week’s edition, we point out some things that are just not adding up.

Wednesday the Industrials sector fell below its 50-day moving average with Boeing (BA) leading the decline as the weakest performer in the Dow, also falling below its 50-day moving average. In the Materials sector Century Aluminum (CENX) fell below its 50-day moving average to lead metals lower. DowDupont (DWDP) also failed to rise above its 50-day moving average. Thursday the Dow Transports sector followed Industrials, falling below its 50-day moving average and finding resistance at its late February peak.

The strongest performing S&P 500 sector over the past five days has been Utilities, followed by Real Estate – not exactly typical bull market leaders. After having experienced one of the strongest starts to a year, the S&P 500 is up less than 3% from December’s close and ended Thursday below its 50-day moving average. Technology has been the only sector to reach a new record high, but its technical indicators are starting to weaken, so this one looks to be over-extended. By Thursday’s open the percent of stocks in the S&P 500 trading above their 50-day moving average was down to 43% with over 22% of stocks in oversold territory and 21% in overbought.


US 10-year Treasury yield broke above its 100-month moving average in November of last year for the first time since July 2007 and hasn’t looked back. That being said, while the yield for the 10-year recently peaked on February 21st at just shy of 3% and has fallen roughly 12 basis points since then, the S&P 500 hasn’t been able to make much progress.

Related: The Tortoise Economy vs. The Market Hare

Meanwhile, no one seems to be talking about how we are seeing flattening in the yield curve.

The Consumer

February Retail Sales were weaker than expected, declining for the third consecutive month, the longest such streak in three years. Then again, the month-over-month change in average hourly earnings for all employees has been either flat or negative in 6 of the past 7 months and in the fourth quarter of 2017, consumers racked up credit card debt at the fastest pace in 30 years - bad for consumer spending, but rather confirming for our Cash-strapped Consumer investing theme. Most concerning is that credit card delinquencies at smaller banks have reach levels not seen since the depths of the Great Recession.

Corporate America

Homebuilder sentiment, after reaching the highest level since 1999 this past December, has now declined for 3 consecutive months, but even so, it still remains at nearly the highest levels since the financial crisis. Meanwhile, the NAHB Housing Market Index has fallen 17% from the January 22nd high and its most recent report found a significant downturn in traffic, perhaps due to rising mortgage rates as the 30-year fixed rate has reached the highest level in over 4 years. Perhaps the weakness has something to do with the aforementioned lack of wage growth as the ratio of the average new home price to per capita income has again reached the prior peak of 7.5x – people just can’t afford it.

We’ve been warning of the dangers of exuberant expectations for a while here at Tematica. The General Business Conditions Average for manufacturing from the Philadelphia & New York Fed this week illustrated just why we have. The two saw a small uptick in March after having been weakening in recent months. However, the outlook portion, which had been looking better in the past is now showing some weakness. For example, CapEx expectations 6-months out fell in March from the highest levels on record in February.  Expectations around Shipments also dropped, having been at the second-highest levels of the current expansion. After having reached extreme levels in November, New Order expectations also declined. When sentiment expectations reach new highs, tough to continue to rise significantly from there.

Related: Trump, Putin and Powell: Markets Get Blindsided

While Friday’s job report got the markets all excited, perhaps the reason that enthusiasm has cooled is folks are realizing that the 50k gain in retail jobs isn’t syncing up with the -4.4% SAAR decline in retail sales over the past three months. Then there is what we are hearing from the horses’ mouth. Walmart (WMT) and Target (TGT) both issued weak guidance, as did Kroger (KR) who also suffered from shrinking margins. A tight and tightening job market is unlikely to help with that. Costco (COST) missed on EPS, as did Dollar Tree Stores (DLTR), who also missed on EPS and gave weaker guidance. Big Lots (BIG) saw a decline in same-store sales. At the other end of the spectrum, the 70k gain in construction is in conflict with rising mortgage rates, traffic and declining pending home sales, while the 31k gain in manufacturing has to face a dollar that is no longer declining, high costs on tariff-related goods and potentially some sort of trade war.


As I mentioned above, while real retail sales fell -4.4% SAAR over the past three months, Core Consumer Prices rose 3.1% SAAR and Wednesday’s Producer Price Index (PPI) report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics also showed rising inflation pressures. Core PPI (yoy) has reached its highest levels since 2011 with the annualized 3-month trend having gone from 1.5% last summer, to 2.7% at the end of 2017 to 3.4% based on the latest data.

Import prices for February rose 0.4%, taking the year-over-year trend up to 3.5% from 3.4%. Recall that last summer this was around 1%. Ex-fuel the pace rose to 2.1% from 1.8% previously and 0.8% over the summer.

The bottom line this week is that we are no longer in the easy peasy 2017 world of hyper-low volatility and relentlessly rising indices with a VIX that has found a new normal more than 50% above last year’s average. The wind up is the major market indices haven’t been able to commit to a sustained direction. The hope and promises of 2017 have been priced in, leaving us with a, “So now what?” which is reflected in the Atlanta Fed’s GDPNow forecast falling from 5.4% on February 1st to a measly 1.8% on March 16th – talk about a serious fade.

What has us really concerned is that at a time when big job gains are making all the headlines we see credit card delinquencies at the level last seen in the depths of the Financial Crisis and retail sales contracting at a 4.4% annual rate over the past three months. This is the best we can get with a booming job market? Something here just isn’t right

Lenore Elle Hawkins
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Lenore Hawkins serves as the Chief Macro Strategist for Tematica Research. With over 20 years of experience in finance, strategic planning, risk management, asset valuation an ... Click for full bio