According to Aristotle, "No appeal to logic is ever as successful as an appeal to emotion." Understanding your clients' emotions — and knowing how emotions drive key decisions — is critical to building successful high-trust relationships with them.
Most accomplished financial professionals already know how great a role emotion plays in people's decisions. Although we'd like to think our clients are rational, thoughtful, intelligent people, the fact of the matter is that our clients are people first, and clients second. And people are emotional — especially about their decisions and their money.
As your relationships with clients develop, there are many opportunities and one very important reason to continue to influence their emotions. In any interaction, the emotional environment positions you for success or failure.
You know what it's like when you call somebody and as soon they answer the phone, you can tell it's a bad time? The mood just isn't right, and if you force yourself to do a presentation anyway, even a client who would normally be receptive will shut you down. Have you ever had that experience?
On the other hand, do you know what it's like when they're in a really good, positive mood? Pretty much no matter what you present to them — unless it's really wacky — they will respond positively.
What would happen if you could predictably create that mood?
In the preceding paragraphs, you experienced a way you can immediately shift someone's emotions quickly and naturally: by asking questions. Below are five simple steps for using questions to shape the mood of any conversation or meeting.
1. Decide what emotional mood you want to create.
Do you want curiosity, excitement, concern, connection, etc.?
2. Experience that emotion yourself.
Get yourself "in the mood" before you try to bring your clients there.
3. Think of a time or circumstance that creates that emotion for your client.
By asking you about clients' moods earlier in this article, I helped you remember the feelings you had about previous interactions. And by remembering, you recreated that emotion for yourself. Your objective is to think of a good question that you can personalize for your client.
4. Ask a question.
Be sure it's a question you know for certain will elicit that positive emotion: "Fred, you play golf. Have you ever hit a hole-in-one, or almost hit one, or even seen one? What was that like for you?" Asking your clients "How is the golf game/wife/family?" is much less effective; it's a perfunctory nicety, and you could either get a shallow response — "fine"— or it could backfire. Who knows how your client may really feel about any broad topic? Other effective questions include:
5. Be congruent!
- "Do you know what it's like when everything is going great, everything you do works, and you can do no wrong?"
- “ … when you go to the mailbox expecting to get bills and junk mail and there is a check for you? How does it feel to get money in the mail?"
- “ ... when you meet someone and you immediately trust them — you connect and you feel good?"
- “ ... when you're standing up on the tee box and you just have this sensation that you're going to crack one? You have a picture in your mind of the perfect golf shot, and then it actually happens?"
Don't just "act" as if you feel a certain way. You need to be sincere. If you want to create excitement, then become excited.
You can use these steps any time you have an important meeting, whether it's a face-to-face consultation, a seminar presentation, a phone conversation or a meeting. Whenever you have any interaction with prospects or clients, do an "emotional mood check" before you get started. When you understand how to change moods or emotions, you also learn to recognize when it is not a good time. Just be sensitive and aware; never present anything until the emotional mood is right.
As a financial professional, your whole objective in influencing people's emotions is to create an enjoyable experience for them.