10 Ways to Get Prospects to Open Up

How can you help someone you don’t know anything about?  Financial advisors often find themselves surrounded by prospects.  They are cultivating people in social situations.  Friendships turning into business relationships.  They get referrals from current clients.  People reach out through social media or walk through the door.  Doctors can ask patients for blood tests, check temperatures, poke and probe.  Financial advisors need to gather information in other ways.

The following ten conversation starters are suited for different situations you might come across:

  1. You have a financial advisor!  Would you recommend them?  You’ve been there before.  They asked “What do you do?”  The moment you answered, they said they work with someone.  Draw them out:  How long have you been together?  What firm?  What do you like best about them?  In what areas do you see room for improvement?
  2. What’s the best stock you ever owned?  Many veteran investors have favorites.  They might have bought and held the stock for years.  They might have built up a large position.  On the other hand, they might have traded in and out of the company often.  It should bring back good memories.  They are talking about their successes, showing their skill.  You are learning about what type of investor they are.
  3. How involved do you want to be in managing your investments?  A surgeon or an airline pilot wouldn’t be a good day trader.  Their time isn’t their own.  An options trader probably wouldn’t see the advantages of professional money management.  You have several ways of working with clients.  You also know some people are better fits than others.  Drawing them out gives you clues on where to take the conversation.
  4. Tell me about your children.  Most people love talking about their offspring.  It brings them pride.  You can tell if they are pleased or if their kids are a work in progress.  When making conversation with someone you met socially, you are looking for common factors.  If you have children, you introduce them into the conversation.
  5. What are your plans for retirement?  This might be a conversation people in their 50’s have when meeting each other on vacation.  They might say: “I haven’t thought about it.”  They might have definite plans.  Someone who enjoys cruising might be planning to take many, many more cruises.  You can share your plans.  You can also look for clues to determine if there’s a need for retirement planning advice.
  6. What do you do for fun?  This is really cool.  I recall my first manager talking about this question.  He said the other person might say: “I play golf.”  Your comeback could be: “What do you do when it rains?”  Here’s the logic.  You can connect with people through their passions. People committed to a hobby are often very eager to open up to a fellow enthusiast or someone with a sincere desire to learn.
  7. How do you like our neighborhood so far?  You are chatting with your new neighbor.  They’ve been there a month.  Their job relocated them from another state.  They need help but are unlikely to simply ask.  You know where to get your hair cut, the best pizza place, the wine store with the best selection and the fastest way to get downtown.  You have lots of practical information you can share.  This can extend into professional services.  Many people prefer face to face relationships.
  8. How do you feel about financial advisors?  I’ve often thought it’s the ultimate question for accountants.  You want to cultivate them as referral sources.  It’s unlikely they will say “They are a fine bunch of people ands I hope my child marries one.”  They are likely to tell you what they don’t like.  When someone tells you what they don’t want, they are really telling you what the do want!  You can reverse the negatives as you say: “In the ideal relationship, you would want….”
  9. How did you start your business?  People who started their own business enjoy telling that story.  It gives you plenty of opportunities to say: “That must have been hard” and “What did you do next?”  Their answer also fills you in on how they tend to do business.
  10. When was the last time you heard from your advisor?  They explained they work with someone already.  How attentive are they?  They might only hear of they reach out first.  This becomes an opportunity for you to explain how you try to keep in touch.

It’s good to remember every time a person speaks, they are giving you information.  Also, people like talking about themselves.  If they get to do all the talking, they often feel they had a good time.  They might even describe you as a good listener.

Related: 14 Reasons to Call Your Client Now