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The First Five Minutes — Key Questions to Ask the HNW

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Challenge: What is your process when you meet with a new ideal prospect or client?

Opportunity: Have a process to build trust through key questions and become a trusted advisor to high net worth clients

We understand that your clients trust you. The question is how much do they trust you? On a scale from 1 to 100, what percent would you say your top clients trust you? How do you know if it is 100%? Bill Bachrach (Bachrach and Associates www.billbachrach.com) once said” truth is that most financial professionals have little or no idea why their clients trust them or how to replicate high-trust client relationships. Trust is not something that should happen by accident. We understand that your clients trust you. The question is how much do they trust you”? How do you get your clients trust meter to 100% and gain all of their business and referrals?

How do you build trust? Besides gathering all the necessary information on paper on your client, what are the key questions to ask to build trust and understanding of the client’s point of view. When you have the biggest potential prospect walk through your door with millions of assets to invest with you, what’s the first thing that goes through your mind? “Oh my gosh, what am I going to do or say to impress this person, what am I going to do differently to attract this client?”

Do you have a consistent framework or key process for each interview structured in such a way as to build trust and gather all of the relevant information to help this person? Years ago as an advisor I was taught to probe for hot buttons and ask all kinds of questions. Then one day I came across a book by Bill Bachrach called Values-Based Selling: The Art of Building High-Trust Client Relationships (Bachrach & Associates Inc., 1996).

Soon after I read the book I contacted Bill and his team about their processes. Since practice management is all about processes, I wanted to find out about how they do it. This lead into reading his next book” Values-Based Financial Planning: The Art of Creating and Inspiring Financial Strategy by Aim High Publishing (July 2000)
As Bill says about his process with clients and prospects” In the grand scheme of things, money’s not that important. It’s important only to the extent that it allows you to enjoy what’s important to you. And not worrying about your finances is critical to having a life that excites you, nurtures those you love, and fulfills your highest aspirations. If you want to make smart choices about money, based on what is important to you–your core values, this book is for you.

Do your clients trust you enough to pay you a separate, up-front fee for planning and advice? Or do you under-charge or give away planning or portfolio reviews in the hopes of getting their assets or selling an annuity or insurance policy?

Do they trust you enough to consolidate all of their assets with you and your custodian? Or do they have their money spread among multiple advisors and institutions? (This is NOT diversification!)
Do they trust you enough to ignore the noise in the media and the talking heads on TV about the economy, the markets, politics, and chaos around the world?
“Everyone has an imaginary ‘trust dial’ embedded in their subconscious and everything you say and do moves the needle on that trust dial… one direction or the other.” Bill Bachrach. It’s in the best interest of both the advisor and the client for the needle to move from the middle to the maximum. The question is, “how do you do that?”

How do you speak the language of trust? Bill believes it boils down to three things:

1. Know the right questions to ask, when to ask them and how to ask them.
2. Listen with empathy.
3. When it’s your turn to talk to be able to make an offer or give advice that is relevant for them, with confidence and conviction, and in a way that tends to inspire action.

Building a system of trust is a process. Do you go deep enough in the questions you ask? Deep enough emotionally? To do this, you ask clarifying and expanding questions in response to the answers you get from your initial meaningful, important, significant and compelling questions. An effective clarifying question is, “What do you mean by __________?” An effective expanding question is, “Tell me more about _______________.” Clarifying questions provide more detail about their answers. Expanding questions give you more information about their answers.

As Bill Bachrach says” Impact questions are some of my favorite questions. They take what you have discovered during a conversation that’s gone emotionally deep from someplace meaningful and bring it to a crescendo about the impact and results this will have on a client’s life. Impact questions are questions like, “And what impact will that have on your life?” “Once you have achieved ____________, what will be the result of that?”

You have asked good questions, gone emotionally deep with clarifying, expanding and impact questions, and listened with empathy, so what do you do now? It’s your turn to talk. And what will be music to their ears when you do speak is if you make them an offer or give them advice that is relevant for them. How do you know what’s relevant for them? That’s what you discovered while you were listening to the answers to all of your excellent questions”.

One final question. Do you have a trust building process when you meet with a new ideal prospect or client?

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