When attempting to provide a client with a new financial product, it is important for advisors to realize that they are offering a solution to a challenge or problem, rather than simply a way to increase a client’s earnings or secure his or her wealth. How do you prepare for and structure the initial meeting with a prospect? What do you do to show an existing client that he or she has a need for additional financial products or services? Do you take the approach of selling to people, or do you work to facilitate their decisions to make a purchase?

As we teach at The Covenant Group, and as Norm Trainor wrote in The 8 Best Practices of High-Performing Salespeople, your job is to help your prospects and clients buy, rather than sell to them.

In order to do that, you must first establish their confidence in you by paying attention to details in the initial meeting – your appearance, your body language, how and what you say. Referrals and introductions from friends can be helpful in this endeavor, along with dressing sharply, being confident and taking the time to build up a rapport with your prospect. It is also necessary to communicate to the client that you have his or her best interests at heart, in addition to your own. The conversation at the beginning of the meeting, as well as the research you have conducted prior to the encounter, will give you insight into what the person’s needs, wants and values are. Do not walk into a meeting with preconceived notions about exactly what products you will be presenting to the prospect. Rather, listen and take note of what could potentially satisfy the demands he or she expresses.

Before delving deeper into the questioning phase of your meeting, you need to ask permission to proceed in order to make the prospect more comfortable with the process and avoid any resistance. Then, ask a few analytical queries and more pointed, “feeling” questions throughout the conversation, and let the other person do most of the talking.

From the first line of questioning, you will be able to determine your prospect’s or client’s current situation, and then gain an understanding of the person’s desired situation and the gap between the two. Lay out the potential risks or losses to which you think he or she could be vulnerable. Through your conversation, develop and present the solution that you propose before proceeding to the close.