2nds Count: How to get the sales critical second metting

You had a great first meeting. The chemistry was good. The prospective clients were interested, they listened intently and you felt like you had everything going your way.

Three months have gone by and you have not scheduled your next meeting. Your emails and phone calls have gone unanswered.

You are racking your brain over what has happened, why it happened and what, if anything, you can do to avoid this problem in the future.

What has happened? Life happened. If you are working with families, other issues have popped up. The kids may have been in an accident, or something may have gone wrong at the job. Families get busy and advisors lose top-of-mind awareness soon after the initial meeting.

In a sense, your first meeting is like a sound bite on the news. The media grabs your attention today, and by tomorrow, there is another sound bite to grab your attention.

To get a second meeting with the prospect, you need a process or a system. You can create your own system or use some one else’s. The beauty of a proven sales system in any market is that it allows advisors to focus on the client and not on what we are going to say.

This system in the family market is a first meeting with a lot of questions, such as, “Please tell me what is important about planning for your family’s future?” Good follow-up questions are, for example, “Why is that important to you?” The client must always know that you are on the client’s agenda and not the other way around.

During this interview, you are pre-paring the client’s mind for the next meeting by saying things like, “Today’s meeting is about learning everything I can about you and your family. During this meeting, we are both looking at each other trying to figure things out. You are thinking: can I work with this person, do I like this person and, most importantly, can I trust him or her? At the same time, I am looking at you and thinking: are you similar to my best clients, will I enjoy working with you and, most importantly, can I help you and your family? What we are talking about is setting expectations and sowing the seeds for future meetings—most importantly, the next meeting.”

If you are working with business owners, there may have been a business problem that is bothering the owner, like a rock in one’s shoe. Once that rock is found, the odds of getting hired are good. With business owners, I like to ask open-ended questions such as “What issues regarding your business keep you awake at night?” Other questions are “Tell me about your plan to exit your business,” and “Tell me about your plan to get dollars from your business, so you and your family do not personally suffer financially from a business reversal.”

We need to remember that we and our offerings are not top-of-mind for prospective clients. We also need to know that it is much harder to resurrect sales momentum than to keep it going.

In addition to preparing the client to expect another meeting, what strategies can an advisor use to lessen the effects of what is just human nature? How can an advisor engage a prospect in such a way that the advisor is more than a sound bite and the prospect is willing to book and keep the next appointment?

Strategy No. 1

Schedule your next meeting at the end of the first meeting. Do not end your first meeting without agreeing on a scheduled time and date for your next meeting. This can be done casually. I like casual. What works for me is to pull out my smart-phone and say some-thing like, “I will study everything you told me today and have draft recommendations prepared for our next meeting. Does that make sense to you? Great. Let’s sync our calendars for some dates and times for our next meeting.”

The only push back I ever get when I say this is they cannot be sure that some-thing may not come up in the next few weeks. I say, “That’s OK, this next meeting date is tentative. I am sure we will be in touch several times between today and our next meeting, so should either of us need to change the date and time, that will not be a problem. During the next few weeks, we will be talking and trading emails because I may have some more questions to ask or may need to get clarification on what you told me today.”

Strategy No. 2

Between meetings, find reasons to contact your prospective client. It may be an old wives’ tale, but I remember reading in sales literature that it takes seven or more contacts with a new client to close a sale. If seven is good, how about 10? With modern technology, touches are easy to come by. I like to scour the inter-net to find articles that relate to the new client’s hobbies, family, interests and business. I have gotten many positive comments from articles I have sent. Using an email drip system, I have my assistant enter the client’s contact information into my database and send out the first preformatted email. This email template is a thank-you for spending their valuable time with me. I also allow them to opt out of future emails. Another touch is sending them a summary of my meeting notes, asking them to review my notes and make comments on them so I can be clear on how to best serve them.

To summarize what successful advisors do, whether it is the family or the business market:

  1. Schedule the next meeting at the end of the first meeting.
  2. Have a system they use the same way every time, so they can focus on their client and their client’s needs.
  3. Prepare their client at the first meeting for the next meeting by telling them that there will be a second meeting. By talking about the next meeting during the first meeting, the client will be expect-ing to be asked for a date for the next meeting.
  4. Contact the client several times between the first and second meetings. By taking these four steps, the second meeting can go from the hardest one to get to the easiest thing in the world.

Irving R. Katz , MBA, MSFS, CLU, ChFC, a family business coach at Katz Financial, is a life member of Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) and an author.

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