As you know, your career in financial services involves a large amount of selling, whether it’s selling yourself and your services to a prospective client, selling an investment idea to a client, or selling your core financial planning values to your current clients.  A large percentage of advisors with whom I consult tell me that the “selling” portion of their workday is the most distasteful and leads to the most procrastination.

The term “selling” carries with it so much negativity.  Let’s change the term to one that means the same but has fewer negative connotations…persuasion.  Many books on consumer and sales psychology have been written, and they all explain how you can use the power of persuasion to your benefit. The goal of persuasion is to convince the prospect or client to buy into the persuasive argument and adopt this new attitude as a core value.  Let’s explore some proven techniques.

Power of Persuasion: 8 Key Pillars

1. Build Rapport Before Attempting to Persuade

Insurance producers, wholesalers, and financial advisors all should understand that first impressions mean everything.  Therefore, how you come across initially to a client or prospective client sets the tone.

Do NOT immediately jump into talking about business!  See #2 below for suggested starting points in your conversation to set a great first impression.

2. The First Seven Seconds is Crucial

Much research in the science of persuasion shows that your rapport will be decided within the first seven seconds of meeting someone or addressing him on the phone.  Find something personal to talk about in order to develop rapport.  Ask questions about where he lives, his family, favorite sports, etc.

If the meeting is in person, make sure you maintain eye contact and smile as much as you can, even if it doesn’t come naturally and you have to force yourself to do so.

3. Create a Need

Whether you’re trying to prospect for a new client or provide a service to an existing client, the first step is discovering and identifying your prospect’s “pain.”  It is trite, but people want to buy a solution to their pain or to satisfy a need.

There are key questions you can ask to determine where the pain is.  For example, “Where would you like your wealth to be five years from now?”  “What’s keeping you from achieving it?” and “What kinds of things keep you up at night?”

4. Use “Active, Empathic Listening” in Communicating with Prospects and Clients

Once you hear about their pain, you can talk to them like a friend to clarify. You are still not pitching this person, but just trying to understand.  The best technique for this is “Active, Empathic Listening.” You can easily learn this powerful technique. It will help you to persuade prospects because you are taking a genuine interest in their “pain,” by carefully listening to their concerns.

I have written about this process extensively in my book, The Financial Advisor’s Ultimate Stress Mastery Guide.

5. Appeal to Their Need Not to Be Left Behind

People like to jump on the bandwagon to gain the same advantages of other successful people. Once you do make your case with a solution to their problem or pain, point out other influential clients (not necessarily by name) who followed your advice and are very happy they did.  Of course, testimonials from folks willing to provide their names are powerfully persuasive.

6. Get Your Foot in the Door

Give something away for free.  For example, you might offer a prospective client a free subscription to your client blog that goes out weekly, providing investment advice and success stories about the transactions you have recently made for client portfolios and your recommendations going forward.  Getting the prospect to agree to give you his email address begins the persuasion process.

7. Utilize the Power of Reciprocity

When people do you a favor, you usually feel an obligation to return the favor somehow.  This is the power of reciprocity.  So by offering prospects something for free, many prospects will feel a psychological obligation to do business with you.

8. Limit Your Availability

Psychologically, one of the key principles of persuasion is scarcity.  Things or services seem much more appealing when there is a limited time or when “the sale is ending soon.”  You can structure this with a prospect by telling him/her that you only have room in your practice for a limited number of new clients and you’ll be closing out your book of business for new clients at the end of the month, for example.

Once you master the power of persuasion through these eight proven pillars, you will see your success ratio with prospects and existing clients catapult!