Asking the right questions may be more important than the answers
by Annette Bau
Ms. Bau is a principal with Advisor Marketing Practices, and blogs regularly on a host of marketing topics for advisors.
Early in my career, I found a key ingredient to the success of my financial advisor marketing plan: Asking the right question can be more helpful and important than the answers we get. The great news is that anyone who commits to it, can master the art of asking fabulous questions. If you haven’t mastered this important skill, continue reading this post!
Socrates was known for his ability to ask questions. Instead of telling someone what they needed, he would ask questions to help the other person determine what they needed. This ancient wisdom will serve you well.
When I was 16 years old, I worked for the first millionaire of my career. He hired me to survey people to see if they wanted a mall in our town. When I asked him why he would pay me to ask people if they wanted a mall, he said, “How else will we know what people want?” He then went on to share that most people never take the time to ask and find out what their clients or prospects really, truly desire. Instead, they guess or give them what they think they want, which usually spells D-I-S-A-S-T-E-R.
Part of asking is never to assume! We were visiting one of our friends, who had just purchased a new Maserati. I asked the husband how he liked his new car. The wife said, “That is not his car, it is mine!” The secret is to ask- never assume.
Research Is the Foundation of Your Success
Once you’ve identified your ideal client, you’ll want to start meeting them and finding out everything about them. Follow these 8 steps to gather more insight into your ideal client.
Determine which type or types of research you want to utilize
Great options include polls, surveys, interviews and strategy sessions. The best type of research will depend on your ideal client. Including more than one type of research can work very effectively.
Identify who you want to interview
Great resources for the interviewees include clients, ideal prospects, centers of influence and referral partners.
Create an AskLearnRiches™ questionnaire
The AskLearnRiches™ questionnaire is a process we developed to learn more about our target market than they know about themselves. It is 13 pages long and has done more to grow my business than almost any other strategy.
Begin by making a list of all of the information you should know about your niche market, including who, what, where, why and how. Find out where they go, what they like to do, how they like to get information, which radio stations they listen to, etc. Don’t leave anything out! Once you’ve created the list, organize it into segments such as career, family, communication, recreation, finances, etc. In each section, identify the best questions to get the information you desire.
For example, if you’re targeting affluent traditional women, you probably wouldn’t spend a lot of time asking them about the career or business associations they belong to. If you get an interview with a non-traditional woman, make it quick and offer something in advance that you’ll give them in return for their time. A thank-you to your interviewees is also a nice gesture for them taking time to answer your questions.
Continue to revise and edit your questionnaire each month or every few weeks until you are getting all the information you need from the interviews.
Create your script
Create a message that sounds natural and focuses on the benefits your interviewees will get from allowing you to pick their brain, such as providing them a free report on how to create a secure retirement plan.
Create a list of the actual people you will interview
Create a spreadsheet for each group you are interviewing such as clients, prospects, centers of influence.
Input the names into your contact management system
Once you have your names entered into your database and have identified them as a client, prospect etc., you are ready to schedule your calls.
Make 10 calls each day
Begin making a certain number of calls each day. Depending on your results, you can increase or decrease the number.
Track & tweak your results
Success in this process requires that we track and tweak our results. Continue to test and try new strategies in your financial advisor marketing plan until you find the perfect formula.
Most people are happy talking about themselves, and even referring you to friends and relatives, if you’re not putting on the sales pressure. Don’t lose your credibility by turning your interviews into prospecting calls. If your subjects show an interest in your services, either invite them to a workshop or set up a separate meeting to discuss how you can work with them.
This is especially important for people who were referred to you by others. If the person who referred you to someone finds out that you are using these interviews to solicit business, they may never give you another referral again. When you receive a referral, tell the person that you won’t discuss business now, but that you are happy to schedule a separate meeting if they want one.
On occasion, you’ll become privy to information that could prove harmful to your interviewee. Contact your compliance department or attorney to determine how they want you to handle those situations and always document your actions.