By: Daniel C. Finley

Doing the Mood Dance

Have you ever been in an appointment and realized the mood has shifted, from good to not so good?  Things seemed to be going along pretty well because the prospect or client was receptive to what you had been saying and then all of the sudden their demeanor turned defensive or even aloof. This is what I call “Doing the Mood Dance”; in every interaction there is someone who is leading the mood of the conversation and someone who is mirroring the mood of the conversation. In this scenario, the prospect/client took the lead!

Unfortunately, most advisors & agents who encounter a negative shift in the mood of a client or prospect have no idea why the mood changed much less what to do about it. When this happens, you need to be ready and that is why I’ve created an emotional management system so you will be prepared. 

Understanding the 5 Step Emotional Management System

In a recent group coaching session with a very successful team, I noticed one of the junior advisors getting completely distracted during role play when his colleague (who was playing the role of the prospect) became very distant. The junior advisor had absolutely no idea how to draw the “prospect” back into the conversation.

Let’s take a look at each of the five steps in the Advisor Solutions Emotional Management System to illustrate what he should have done.

Step 1: The Emotional Barometer

When the conversation seems to start to go “cold” it’s time to use an emotional barometer to find out how the prospect is feeling.  Here is an example dialogue:

(Advisor): “It’s important to have a truly balanced portfolio at your stage in life so you don’t experience another 2008.”

(Prospect): “My portfolio was fine in 2008 because it was balanced.”

At this point the conversation seems to be going south. Now is the time to take the prospect’s emotional temperature.

(Advisor): “True! You are ahead of most investors but did you still lose money? And, if so how did it feel?”

As you can see, we are trying to emotionally warm back up the prospect with hopes that he will be honest about whether he lost money and remind him that it was not a pleasant experience.

Step 2: Getting the Emotional Buy-In

At this point the emotional climate might be changing for the better but it’s important to get emotional buy-in by getting a sense that your prospect is indeed starting to warm up and change their feeling (mood) about the subject. Here is an example:

(Prospect): “Yes, I lost money that year. Nobody likes it lose money.”

(Advisor): “You are right, nobody likes to lose money. And when the market dropped 50% from peak-to-trough even if you lost half it still wouldn’t be pleasant, right?”

As you can see, we are trying to turn up the “emotional heat” by helping the client understand how they actually felt at that time.

(Prospect): “No, it really wasn’t fun at all. I just quit looking at my statements.”

Step 3: Leading the Mood Dance

At this point in the conversation we are starting to “Lead the Mood Dance” because we now shifted the prospect’s mood from one on the defensive to one where he is at least admitting that he lost money and that it wasn’t fun. Now is the time to continue taking the lead.

(Advisor): “We feel the same way too and that’s why we searched for what we call a “Truly Balanced Portfolio”-one that can make money in good times and bad. But, before I explain it let me ask you, does that sound like something that you might be interested in learning more about?”

(Prospect): “Yes, I guess.”

As you can see, a brief statement such as this can qualify the prospect’s emotional state as well as continue to help you “Lead the Mood Dance.”

Step 4: The Reverse Experience Story

Now, it’s time to help the prospect become even more a part of the dialogue by hearing more about their own story, I call it The Reverse Experience, getting the prospect or client to explain what happened to them. Most advisors that tell stories do so from their own experience. However, when you get a prospect or client to tell you their own story and they realize what went wrong they are more open to your recommendations if they are in fact the solution to their problem.

 (Advisor): “What type of portfolio did you have back then, was it U.S. stock and bond mutual funds like you have now?”

(Prospect): “Yes, it’s pretty much what we have now-all in the U.S. That way if the stock market doesn’t do well hopefully the bond market will.”

(Advisor): “But, where are both of those markets in, and what has to happen?”

(Prospect): “They are both U.S. markets and one of them has to do well.”

By now the prospect may start to understand where you are going with your line of questions. And, they may start to see the light. However, let’s move to the next step.

Step 5: The Agreement Close

This is the final step and it’s what I refer to as The Agreement Close, agreeing with the prospect and possibly even using their verbiage to close the sale. Here is an example:

(Advisor): “And, that’s exactly why most U.S. balanced portfolios don’t do well in down markets, because one market has to go up farther than the other goes down. Besides, nobody seems to factor in a 25% loss in their investment strategy but they seem to accept it after that happens. Do you know what an alternative strategy would be?”

(Prospect): “To not be completely tethered to the U.S. markets?”

(Advisor): “Yes! Now you are getting it. And, that’s exactly what our strategy does? Does that make sense?”

(Prospect): “Yes, it actually does.”

When you get this point in the conversation, you have already closed the business even if you haven’t explained all of the details yet. The reason is because people hate to be sold but they love to buy. And, the way to get someone to buy is to help them come to their own conclusion that they need or want to buy your product/s or service/s.  In the preceding dialogue the prospect got to what I call The Pivotal Moment—where the prospect truly understands now when he replied with the answer, “To not be completely tethered to the U.S. markets.” He just realized the reason why he had lost money even with a balanced portfolio.

Beyond a Perfect World

Obviously, for illustrative purposes this conversation was mapped out with a “perfect world” scenario. And, it was used as an example and not my own personal investment strategy. But, we don’t live in a perfect world. Instead, we do live in a world that has somewhat predictable patterns. What I mean by that is that you have probably been in an appointment and had some part of the discussion mis-interpreted. If so, simply use the preceding steps to map out the conversation beforehand so that you can lead the mood dance!

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