In the previous 5 articles, I have covered how to fill
up the seminar room and how to close appointments right
at the seminar.
If you follow the plan, you have 20 appointments with qualified prospects. What should you do at the first appointment?
I get every prospect to bring a copy of their tax return and their list of investments. I tell them to bring these items at the close of the seminar and I get 100% compliance. The structure of my first appointment is as follows:
First 10 minutes—shmoozing, smiling, rapport building
How long have you lived in the area?
Do your children live nearby?
You have great tans, are you golfers?
Next, I get down to business.
I’ll just give you a brief explanation of what I do (proceed to explain my services in 60 seconds—no jargon, explain benefits).
“So that I make sure we cover any questions or concerns you have in our hour together, let me jot them down so we won’t forget.” Most every prospect has 2 or 3 items they want to discuss because I told them at the seminar to jot down their questions or concerns. It’s amazing what people will do when you instruct them.
I then proceed with fact finding. I ask questions so that I can put together an income statement and balance sheet right on the yellow pad in front of me.
“Folks, tell me about your sources of income.
Are you receiving any pensions?
“Now let’s take a look at your investments (they have brought in their statements or their balance sheet).”
As I look these over I make some unsettling comments, if appropriate, about their investments. Do you know what you’re really earning on these investments?
How long have you had them?
Do you know, off hand, your original investment (this will often be on their statement on in the records they brought to our meeting)
How did you come to own these investments? (the prospect reveals their unsystematic method of investing).
Okay. Let me give you some helpful feedback.
“You had two concerns that you mentioned in the beginning. Now that I know more about your circumstances, I can tell you this (I proceed to provide some useful, but unspecific direction or advice). I can get together some specific recommendations regarding those issues (e.g. a long term care quotation, analysis of an annuity, review of their trust, etc). With those specific recommendations, you will have precise answers to your questions.”
“Additionally, I would like to print you reports on each of your investments so that you can really see what’s going on. Some of these are fine, but some of these quite frankly, are clunkers.” (The prospect always agrees saying something like, “we know we should have sold some of these but…..”).
“Folks, let me propose this. Let’s schedule a time to meet next week (same day and time). I want to put together some answers to your questions and let’s review the reports I will get on each of your investments (I subscribe to Value Line and Morningstar on CD ROM which give me the reports I need). This is not a lot of work, but will take me 3 hours. My normal rate is $150 per hour, so if you think that $450 would be reasonable to isolate which investments you should sell and what you should do about (their two issues), then let’s meet next week.”
If they say they want to think about it, that’s great! Because I just learned NOT to waste my time with these people. If $450 is a barrier to proceeding, then goodbye! Ninety percent of the people want to meet again and ask me, “should we pay you now?” These are the types of clients you want.
If you are in a situation where you cannot charge fees (i.e. not a Registered Investment Advisor), it is more difficult to test a prospect’s seriousness. All you can do is ask, “Mr. and Mrs. Jones, when we meet next week, if my recommendations make sense to you and you see that there are ways for you to do better financially, will their be anything that would stop us from doing business together?” I don’t like to ask this questions as I find it presumptuous, but it’s better than spending 3 hours putting materials together and then finding out his brother works at Merrill Lynch!
Use the first appointment to fact find. Be clear that the objective of the first appointment is to schedule a second appointment (assuming you want to work with the prospect). Do not try and close business at the first appointment. This system will result in larger accounts and doing more comprehensive business with clients.