When I give presentations to groups of advisors at conferences and training events, I know well in advance what the first words out of my mouth will be. The audience sees me telling an entertaining story, but it’s much more than just some charming anecdote. My words are carefully chosen and practiced because my objective is to personally connect with audience members and quickly get them to a point where they are ready to absorb the important, helpful information to come.
Do you have tried and true words to effectively draw your clients and prospects into meaningful conversations from the get-go?
People need to feel heard before they’re ready to listen and engage with what you have to say.
While my words are pre-planned, deliberate, and even practiced, I deliver them like it’s the first time I’ve said them. This isn’t hard because
- I am genuinely interested in who I am speaking to,
- I’ve never said these words to them before, and
- this is the first time I’m receiving their responses to what I’m saying.
Effective advisors are prepared to quickly connect with their prospects and clients and genuinely express interest and care. Recognize that this doesn’t come from off-the-cuff comments, and also realize preparing ahead doesn’t mean delivering canned lines. We’ve all been on the receiving end of questions from bored and disinterested people who really couldn’t care less about our responses – what a turn-off!
Planning what you will say in advance prepares you to quickly develop rapport and get to meaningful conversation. You won’t waste their time or yours on distracting conversational rabbit trails. Having prepared questions frees you to listen more effectively because you’re not having to think about what to say next. You can fully tune in to what your client is saying. You’re available to actively listen so your client feels heard. Plus, you’re equipped to effectively drive the conversation to help them consider what they need most, rather than simply reacting to their words and hoping you’ll eventually get to what really matters.
To further brush up on your conversation skills and better connect with potential new clients:
- Challenge yourself to talk with, not to, five new people each week. This is more than just saying hi. Engage with people, ideally about something that they find interesting. Because the person most people think about most often is themselves, that’s a great place to start. Notice something about them and be inquisitive. Are they wearing a unique-looking piece of jewelry or item of clothing you can genuinely compliment them on? Are they looking tan in the middle of winter (maybe they’ve been on a trip)? Don’t be creepy, but do be curious.
- Begin with an open-ended question, requiring more than a yes or no answer. Instead of “Do you come here much?” try, “How often do you come here?” Instead of “Do you work around here?” try, “How long have you worked around here?”
- Actually listen to their responses instead of focusing about what you’ll say next. We all know when someone is giving us their undivided attention; it makes us feel special and flattered. Stop focusing on what you’ll say next, and stay focused on the person you’re talking with so they feel truly heard.
People are fascinating, and no two people are identical. By having your prospecting or exploratory conversation process clear in your mind, you can relax and listen. You will appeal to a lot more people and also be prepared to be most helpful to them.
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