By: Daniel C. Finley

The Power of Preparation

One of the things I emphasize to my one-on-one coaching clients is the power of preparation for themselves and for their clients.  A more common challenge that I have heard often during my years of coaching is about knowing what to prepare for prior to a “closing appointment”. It seems that many advisor’s pre-appointment time is spent on preparing hypothetical illustrations for the products they recommend. Then, during the meeting they typically talk about their recommendations until eventually their client’s indicate if they are interested or not. Thus more of the advisor’s time is spent explaining everything rather than necessarily connecting. It seems that most financial advisors go through a learning curve when it comes to the final appointment process.

Many advisors simply focus on creating presentations full of charts, graphs and providing literature explaining the products they are recommending. Unfortunately, this is typically where the preparation stops. The problem is that there is much more to the appointment than just the recommendations. Think of it this way, if you just watch the last ten minutes of a great movie, you might have a very different opinion of it and be wondering why the movie was so bad.  This would be because you had not experienced the story that set up the final movie scene. Your presentations are the same way-they need a strong beginning, middle and end.

It takes careful preparation that goes way beyond just planning for the recommendation. You need to prepare everything from small talk, having the prospect answer any questions, comments and concerns to doing a current portfolio review. Once you have finished explaining all of the features and benefits of your recommendations the final steps are to elicit any objections, resolve any objections and then finally ask for the order.

After many sessions coaching clients, I decided to create a resource that maps out exactly what to do to make a much better connection with a prospect/client so that they want to “buy” your recommendations, instead of feeling as if they are just being “sold” them.  Hence, the Advisor Solutions 2nd Appointment Worksheet was born!

The following story describes a financial advisor who utilized the Advisor Solutions 2nd Appointment Worksheet well:

Scott was a newer financial advisor whom I started coaching last fall. During one of our first coaching sessions I realized that he had the tenacity and dedication to do very well with his business.  However, one thing was going to keep him from reaching his potential, he was NOT taking the time to fully prepare and organize for his appointments.  We spent several weeks reviewing various tools including the Advisor Solutions 2nd Appointment Worksheet.

Shortly after, I received this update from Scott: 

Last night I had a client meeting.  Unfortunately my computer locked up and I could not show the client the financial plan. Three things made this come out ok: first, I had gone through the presentation several times so I knew it well; second, I had The 2nd Appointment Worksheet filled out for this client; and third I had a letter, with the client’s most important concerns in the first paragraph.   Working from the letter, I was able to describe the client’s concerns and get an agreement that these were still their greatest concerns.  I was then able to present the information using what I had practiced, along with The 2nd Appointment Worksheet, which in a way is an outline of the meeting. In this way not having the computer, which would have been a show stopper in the past, was simply a large inconvenience.  

I was excited for Scott because it proved to him that taking the time to craft well thought out plans for preparing for meetings can help him feel confident and organized- truly the power of preparation. In Scott’s case taking the time to prepare actually gave him a “surprise” Plan B that he didn’t even know about but it sure did end up being able to turn an obstacle into a huge opportunity!

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