Many advisors have a love-hate relationship with writing scripts ahead of meeting with prospects and clients. Everyone looks for the magic sentences that work, yet no one wants to sound like they are reading off a teleprompter. Being prepared to answer and talk about some common topics will make discussions easier, and it is something that can be practiced in advance, so you can speak comfortably without sounding rehearsed.
Here are six conversations to consider, with different scripts for different situations. View these ideas as starting points. Customize the conversation to suit your style.
The “What do you do?” response
You meet someone socially. They ask: “What do you do?” The second the words “insurance agent” leave your lips, they say: “I already have one.” A restaurant owner told about a relative who sold chicken parts to other restaurant owners. When he heard that response, he would counter: “I’m sure you are very happy with your current suppliers. Here’s my card. If anything ever changes, please give me a call.”
Why: You’re respectful of the current relationship. You’re establishing yourself as the alternative, without being pushy.
Another scenario as the alternative
You play golf often, hoping to meet new people. When you explain what you do, they say they work with someone already. They mention a firm. An advisor in Texas uses a great strategy. “That’s great. How long have you been with them?” They answer that tame question. “What do you like best about them? Would you recommend them?” This could go two ways. If they wouldn’t recommend them, he asks why they stay with them. If they would recommend them, he asks in what areas they see room for improvement.
Why: When someone tells you what they aren’t getting in the relationship, they are describing their ideal relationship with an advisor. You are learning what they want.
You are successful, busy and work with big clients with complicated situations. I credit a Pennsylvania financial planner with this strategy. You know how many similar big clients you could add without straining your service model. It’s a small number. You let a big client know: “I’ve completed my business plan and determined I could add five new relationships similar to yours to my practice this year. Is there anyone you would like to recommend to become one of those five new relationships?” Stop talking.
Why: Your best clients love the attention you give them. Now they know why. You aren’t adding little accounts all the time. They will logically assume those few slots will go quickly. Also, if you said there are five openings and you offered one, it’s human nature to want more.
Minimize friendship risk
Some friends worry when they will be approached for business. Use this to your advantage. “We’ve known each other five years. I’ve never approached you for business because you are my friend and that’s important to me. I never want to put our friendship at risk. I’ve assumed you work with an advisor already, someone who takes great care of you and delivers great service. Most successful people have that kind of relationship with their advisor. (Pause) But you may know some people who aren’t as lucky. I thought we might take a few minutes to talk about what I do. Then, if you come across some of those people, you’ll know how I may be able to help them.”
Why: You’ve explained successful people are treated as important clients. This gets them wondering: “Am I an important client?” You’ve now positioned an easier conversation, what you do in the third-party context, possibly helping someone they know.
Everyone looks for the magic sentences that work, yet no one wants to sound like they're reading off a teleprompter.
Another “What do you do?” comeback
Your answer explains you are an advisor, and they say they work with one already. If the stock market is volatile, you might say: “It’s been a difficult several months in the market. If your advisor is there when you need them, returns calls promptly and answers your questions, these days, that’s about as good as it gets.”
Why: You’ve set a standard of service. That bar is set pretty low. If they say they haven’t heard from their advisor in a long time or don’t get calls returned, you can lay the groundwork by establishing yourself as the alternative.
Asking for referrals
Many clients hesitate to give referrals. They imagine something going wrong and the blame falling on them for having made the connection. You might ask: “Who do you know who uses professional money management and is dissatisfied with the relationship? I would be interested in talking with them.”
Why: If they also do investing business with you, they understand the term. If not, you explain. Now you have them looking for a complainer, someone with a problem. They see making the introduction as a way of helping a friend.