October 23, 2012
Once you have achieved high trust, you are prepared to move forward. If you don’t have confirmation of full satisfaction, verify that first by asking what more you can be doing. If she’s not fully satisfied and she thinks you’re using her to get to her friends, you’ll be doubly unlikely to succeed.
Once you’ve confirmed that the strong bond is there and your superior service has been recognized, you can seek direct entry into her network. She needs a financial advisor, and so does everyone she knows. You can reach her network by offering to meet their needs, and your clients can help you figure out what those are. Strategic questioning will provide important information.
Below are examples of interest-gathering questions. Start by checking service satisfaction and soliciting honest feedback.
“My industry has not always met the needs of women well. Am I meeting yours?”
“What has been most helpful for you as we’ve worked together?”
“I want to make sure that I serve you and others well. What kinds of concerns do you hear when you talk with other women?”
“Financial services and products can be very complex. How could I help make this topic more accessible for your friends and family?”
“What kind of outreach effort might be helpful to your friends and other women you know?”
“People are so busy these days. I sure don’t want to be an annoyance. Among your friends, what do you see as the preferred way to for someone like me connect and be a help?”
These questions have the side benefit of eliciting important information about your service to the client herself. As you ask these questions, listen for verbal and non-verbal cues about her receptivity to being questioned in this manner. If she appears hesitant in any way, quietly back off. Hesitancy indicates that she is not really your advocate or that she’s uncomfortable inviting you into her network. Your goal is to prompt an eager advocate. When you feel resistance, back off and then rededicate yourself to building a higher level of trust.
In some cases, a woman may be a strong advocate, but she will not invite you into her network with a direct introduction. She may wish to refer by giving friends your name, rather than by inviting you to a meeting or facilitating a personal connection. If that’s her preference, go with it. You’ll not win any friends by pushing for a personal introduction to her peers. If she feels pressed, she may acquiesce to you and then apologize to her friends for the intrusion, rather than say “no” to you. In that case, you’ll present yourself to a group of women who’ll listen politely but may secretly resent you for the coerced meeting.
If this seems complicated or fraught with risk, don’t be overly concerned. Listening and asking will serve you well throughout this process. Clients will communicate (either verbally or non-verbally) their level of willingness. It’s just a matter of tuning in, listening and showing genuine interest in helping the client and her friends. She will guide you, if you take the time to listen.
Tony DiLeonardi is the founder of Third Quarter Advisers, LLC, which offers strategic best practices, coaching services and solutions for wealth advisers and their clients.
Barbara A. Kay, MA, LPC, RCC is president, Barbara Kay Coaching. She coaches, consults and speaks on individual and relational core competencies including: productivity, time, teams, client relationships, change, behavioral finance, motivation, communication and leadership.
DiLeonardi and Kay are authors of the recently published book, The $14 Trillion Woman: Your Essential Guide to Engaging the Female Client.
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