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Getting back to growth: A 3-phase approach

Bill Cates

We are entering a time that could be the greatest prospecting opportunity we’ve seen in over two decades.

That’s a pretty bold statement, isn’t it?

I have been in this business for over 25 years. I’ve helped advisors stand out and grow in the 2000-2002 correction and the 2007-2009 correction. We have no clue how deep or long this “correction” (if you want to call it that) will last. What I know for sure is that this is huge opportunity for you, if you’re prepared to act with courage and conviction.

Financial First Responder

One of my coaching clients, Rob, is into his third round of calls to just about every one of his clients. He told me that one of his clients said, “Rob, you’re like a financial first responder. I bet making all these calls is not easy for you.”

Rob provided a modest answer, “Well, thank you. I’m certainly not a hero like the real first responders, but I’m not going to do what many advisors are doing right now – either fleeing the scene or frozen in indecision.”

Why do we admire first responders? Because they run into situations where most would (and should) flee. Are you running into the difficult conversations? Are you taking a leadership role in your clients’ lives? This is the time to show people what you’re made of. You don’t need to have all the answers. You just need to be willing to have all of the conversations.

Here’s a three-phase approach to getting back to growth:

  • Phase 1: Empathetic Listener

By the time you read this piece, you may already be well into (or even finished) your version of Phase 1. If so, this section may serve to validate and fine-tune your approach. Your main goal here is to be a great listener and bring value in any way you can. That’s not to say that you won’t find doors of opportunity opening for you. You undoubtedly will. And, yes, you should walk through those doors when they open.

If your clients are invested for the long term and not dependent on receiving direct proceeds from their investments at this moment, then you have probably trained them to not overreact to big swings in the market.

The best metaphor for the stock market I’ve heard is that the stock market looks like someone walking up the stairs with a yoyo. The yoyo goes up and down, but the person walking continues to climb up the stairs over time.

Even though your clients may tell you that they are doing okay and understand they’re in it for the long haul, don’t take what they say at face value. Go a bit further.

The principle of Loss Aversion tells us that the emotional response to a loss in the market is twice that than the emotional response to the same amount of gain in the market. The sting of the loss is 2X sharper than the joy of the gain.

Therefore, when someone tells you they aren’t overly concerned about things, don’t assume that’s all there is to it. Probe a little further. Use the magic words, “Tell me more.” If your client is married, ask how their spouse is feeling. And ask what they are hearing from their friends, colleagues, and other family members.

Do your best to not leave the appointment, or phone call, or virtual meeting with any negative emotional residue on the part of your clients. Make sure everything is clear and that they are truly feeling a little better. With some clients, you might want to call them a day or two later – to reiterate the right perspective you believe they should have.

  • Phase 2: Promote Possibilities

When your clients are appreciative of you reaching out and helping them gain perspective on the current situation, this can be the time to suggest possible introductions.

“George and Martha – I’d like to alert you to something that you may experience over the coming weeks and months. Because many financial professionals are not calling their clients – hiding under their desks, I suppose – you may find yourself in conversations with your friends, family, and/or colleagues about how everyone is weathering the volatile market.

“If you learn that anyone is displeased with the advice they received or level of communication from their current advisor, please don’t keep me a secret. Please let them know that I’m never too busy to take a look at their situation, to see if I can be of any assistance.”

In your client conversations, conduct a few genuine check-ins. The operative word here is “genuine.”

“How are your parents doing? Are they staying safe? Do you feel like their financial advisor is communicating with them effectively during this crisis?”

This check-in can be for anyone close to them. Your words may vary, but the key is to be sincere about your desire to make sure people are getting the right kind of advice. This is NOT a sales call. This is a relationship-building call. A door of opportunity may open up quickly or you may just be starting a new relationship.

  • Phase 3: Look for Introductions

Phases 1 and 2 can often happen in the same conversation. Phase 3 is most likely going to be in your next conversation with your client – probably a few weeks after your Phase 1 and/or 2 phone calls.

The best way to ask for possible introduction is to be as specific as possible. The conversation might go something like this:

“I’m hoping we might be able to identify a few folks you think should at least be aware of the important work that I do. I know that your sister and brother-in-law are in the area. Assuming we can come up with an approach that feels comfortable to everyone, how do you feel about introducing me to them – just to make sure they are being served properly and getting the information they need?

Helping is the new selling

First and foremost – you must take care of your clients. It is times like these where your courage, leadership, and confidence are critical and appreciated.

Second – Don’t be shy about your desire to bring your leadership, confidence, and wisdom to others. Others are hurting right now. They are paralyzed from fear and/or confusion. Ask your clients to help you meet them.

About the Author: Bill Cates, CSP, CPAE, is the president of Referral Coach International, author of Get More Referrals Now, Beyond Referrals, and Radical Relevance, and a highly sought-after international speaker. To learn more, go to www.ReferralCoach.com. Bill can be reached directly at: [email protected].



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