What would the best advisor do? Think and act like you're the finest in your field
By Sandy Schussel
Sandy Schussel, LLC
How are you showing up? Before you do anything with a client or a prospect, ask yourself the question: What would the best advisor do in this situation?
Most of us know how to meet prospective clients, talk to them and have them retain us. But the "what we do" is not a problem. The problem is: Who we are being when we do what we do?
A few weeks ago, James, a financial advisor, told me how he had explained all of a client’s options to her and asked her which she would prefer. She told him that she needed to think about it and would get back to him. Weeks went by, and whenever he called to check in, she repeatedly told him that she still hadn’t decided. Then, at one point, she began asking questions that made him suspect that she did not entirely trust him.
He had, up until that moment, had a good relationship with this client. Now, he was afraid of losing her. What had gone wrong?
“Among all those options you gave her the other night, was there one you thought was in her best interest?” I asked him.
“Yes,” he replied, and he started to explain which it was, and why.
"But I guess that’s where we got stuck,” he continued.
“Well, if you were the best advisor in Illinois,” I asked him, “What would you have done differently at that meeting?”
James responded almost immediately. “I would have explained that there were a lot of options, presented her briefly with the two or three I thought were the best, and then told her that the one I selected for her was the best one, and explained why. I then would have asked her if she had any questions before we got down to the paperwork.”
Note the language in this entry carefully, and you’ll see the difference between what James actually did at his appointment and what he perceived the best advisor would have done. As he saw it, the best advisor would have simply assumed that his client would accept his choice for her. He wouldn’t have asked his client which she preferred; he would have taken charge to supply her with the option he had determined was right.
Why, then, had James not acted like the best advisor in Illinois?
James was afraid — of pushing the client too hard, of not letting her feel that she was in control of the decision, of having her think that maybe he’s not as nice as she once thought. He needed to be liked, so he was trying to be nice — and in doing so, he didn’t serve her in the best way he could. Most of all, he was afraid that he might say or do something that would cause him to lose her as a client, even if what he was recommending was exactly what he believed she should do. And he was terrified of losing even a single good client from his small practice.
So James danced around his recommendation — being nice, letting her decide — and not only was she not deciding, but she was now questioning whether he was the best advisor for her. To top it off, he was now calling her weekly (or, should I say, weakly).
“Would the best advisor in Illinois continue to call this woman every week?” I asked him.
“No,” he replied. “He would tell her that the two of them needed to get together and talk — even if she hasn’t yet decided. He would talk to her about his feeling that she doesn’t totally trust him. He would tell her that the option he’d selected for her was the right thing to do, and that her delay was actually costing her money. And, I guess, he would tell her that if she doesn’t feel right about taking his recommendations, she needs to find someone else to help her."
James promised me he’d call his client one more time and be the best advisor in Illinois. A few days later, he got back to me to tell me that she had signed the paperwork to put his recommendation into motion.
Sure, he could have also been calling to tell me that he’d lost the client, but that loss had been set in motion while he wasn’t showing up to his work as the best advisor in Illinois.
How are you showing up? Before you do anything with a client or a prospect, ask yourself the question: What would the best advisor do in this situation? Focus on serving, not being liked, and watch how your practice or business begins to flourish.