How to talk to Prospects and Clients

Most of you don’t know how to talk to prospects and clients. Yes, even you. As a group we advisors love to talk to people, it’s how we get new business. The problem isn’t our gift of gab. The problem is what we say.

My good friend Michael Antonelli who tweets as @bullandbaird pounds the table trying to convince advisors everywhere to “talk like a normal person”. In fact he will be on stage today at the Future Proof conference saying exactly that.

He’s right. 100% right. We as a group do a horrible job talking like a normal person. In every sales training I’ve ever attended (and it’s a lot of sales training) I have been told to stop using jargon and acronyms. I have also been taught not to try and make things overly complex.

Did I listen? No.

Did you listen? Also no.

Three Ways to Start Talking Like a Normal Person

Look I don’t know why it is so hard to talk like a normal person, but I have made a conscious effort over the last 8 months to do so. Here are 3 things you can start doing today to talk like a normal person with your clients and prospects:

  1. Plan what you are going to say ahead of time. I don’t mean write a script. Have a plan for the topics you are going to discuss and make special note of how to remove jargon and acronyms and replace them with plain English.

  2. Ask one of your colleagues to stop you during a presentation and ask you to explain jargon or acronyms. You can practice this before to ensure it doesn’t seem awkward.

  3. Start any presentation by telling your clients or prospects that you are going to try and avoid using jargon or acronyms. Tell them to interrupt you at anytime if they would like you to rephrase anything.

Three Ways to Stop Trying to Sound Smart

Jargon and acronyms are only one part of the problem with talking like a normal person. We advisors also have a tendency to want to sound like we are the smartest person in the room.

Stop it.

Clients and prospects assume you are a capable and intelligent professional. In my experience the more you show off how smart you are; the less trust clients and prospects have in you.

I once heard an advisor spend 5 minutes explaining how banks decide whether a checking account product will be interest bearing or not. The client’s question: “Why does my checking account not pay me any interest?”

All he needed to say was, “Your account type does not receive interest. It sound like you might be interested in a different account type that does pay interest? Is that right?”

Here are 3 things you can do today to stop trying to sound smart:

  1. Answer all questions from your clients as clearly and simply as possible. Don’t use flowery language or $3 words.

  2. Stop talking so much. Ask more questions, get your clients and prospects talking about what is important to them.

  3. Take time to prepare for your meeting. Anticipate how familiar a client or prospect might be with financial planning, investments, etc. Your entire presentation should be crafted to meet them at their level.

    (Bonus: If you are working with a couple, prepare the presentation to meet the level of the least financially sophisticated spouse.)

Your clients and prospects need an advisor who has more questions than answers and provides advice in a clear and easy to understand manner.

Obviously these 6 tips are only a starting point. You will be working on talking like a normal person for the rest of your career.

Thanks for reading. If you found this interesting or helpful, I hope you’ll pass it along to someone who might not be a subscriber.

If someone forwarded this to you, simply click the subscribe button below to automatically receive each edition.