By: Daniel C. Finley

The Value of Vulnerability

Over the past two years, I have had the pleasure of working with a very successful team of financial advisors. As their success has increased so has the amount of advisors that were added to their team; currently they are nine team members.

Each week we focus on a specific exercise to increase their sales skills that I have designed for their weekly coaching session. The advisors learn the exercise, role play it and I, along with the two principal partners, would critique them. We continue to utilize the same exercise for weeks or even months (if need be) until each team member can do it seamlessly.

During a recent team coaching session one of the principal partners told the group that they were not making a good connection during their role plays because they were not opening up and sharing their feelings about the subject at hand. In other words they were not allowing themselves to be vulnerable. He went on to say that the value of vulnerability is that the prospect makes the realization that you have been in their shoes; consequently, in many cases, you then are able to make a connection!

The following is a simplified step-by-step process in finding the value to be vulnerable:

  1. Ask Great Questions

Once you determine that the subject you are talking about is something that is very important to the prospect, it’s time to ask additional questions to uncover how they feel about the subject. Try something as simple as this:

Advisor:    “What concerns you most about losing money now that you are retired?”

  • Uncover the Prospect’s Story & Feelings

At this point, it is important to listen, acknowledge what you heard and ask more questions so you can uncover the prospect’s story and feelings. Here is an example:

Prospect:  “Well, I don’t really want to lose anything. In fact, I’m not sure what I would do if   I did lose some of my retirement investments.”

Advisor:    “I completely understand, but how do you think you’d feel if we had another 2008 and your current portfolio reacted like your portfolio did back then?”

  • Make a Connection

Next, we need to make a strong connection by genuinely talking about how you feel about the subject.

Prospect:  “I would feel sick! I wouldn’t know what to do if I lost 20, 30 or 40% of my money. I lost a lot of money back then and it took years to get it back.”

Advisor:    “I would feel sick too!”

  • Get Vulnerable

At this point, you need to explain why you feel this way by telling the prospect what you have experienced in the past. Here is a brief example:

Advisor:    “My dad retired in late 2007 and I asked him the same type of question that I asked you about how he would feel if he lost money. He said he wouldn’t be able to handle even a 10% loss. At that time he didn’t need the income and since I knew the market had a great bull run, I recommended that we get very conservative and reposition a good percentage of his assets into somethings that wasn’t tethered to the market. We did that and he missed the bear years.”

  • Ask for the Order

In this example, if the prospect is giving you indications that they can relate by smiling, nodding or agreeing that you did the right thing! Try this close:

Advisor:    “We have had a seven year bull market, how would it help you most if we at least take a look at some alternative strategies so we reduce your risk to the stock market?”

Prospect:  “I think that would give me some peace of mind. Let’s do that.”

Why Genuine Vulnerability Works:

As the saying goes, “It’s simple but it’s not easy”. The “simple” part is opening up and telling the prospect what you or someone you know has experienced around the subject matter. The “not easy” part is having that topic be something that you genuinely care about. In other words, if it’s not from the heart, you are not going to make a connection. Conversely, genuine vulnerability works because you are discussing something that is important to you and if it’s also important to them then you have the foundation to form that connection.

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