The Advisor Institute: Coach's Corner
'Are you open to ...?'

Practical messages intended to help you elevate the success of your practice.

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      By David RichmanNational Director, Eaton Vance Advisor Institute

      Years ago, upon leaving the podium, someone introduced himself and asked me, "Are you open to an observation?" It's hard for me to figure out precisely why the subtext of his question felt off-putting. Maybe it was a reluctance to receive some less-than-positive feedback? Perhaps I did not want to risk losing the positive feeling of an audience that seemed so receptive. Nonetheless, my apprehensive response was: "Sure, go for it."

      Fast forward to a recent collaboration with an advisor who uses the phrase "are you open to" in a very different setting. At the right moment during phone conversations with prospects, he asks, "Are you open to scheduling a follow-up to explore this further?" He reports that this question almost never fails and usually leads to a follow-up meeting with little to no hesitation.

      Let's reflect on the difference: "Are you open to an observation?" versus "Are you open to scheduling a follow-up?" In "Chasing Positivity®: The Charismatic Advisor® in Conversation," Dr. Brooks and I suggest putting away the black robe. Now, you may be thinking, "I don't even have a black robe in my closet." What we are referring to is that invisible black robe that can make us come across as judgmental.

      No one wants to feel judged and perhaps this was at the core of my reticence. Interestingly, though, note my response despite my significant apprehension: "Sure, go for it" is actually a yes. If I really didn't want to potentially hear negative feedback, have my postpodium buzz killed, did not particularly appreciate his subtext or want to be judged, then WHY on earth say, "Yes"?

      Perhaps it lies in the power of these four words: "Are you open to?" Consider our top advisor's theory on why his question almost never fails:

      "When you use the words 'are you open to,' it's very hard for people to say no. Saying no is tantamount to admitting you are 'closed' to hearing new ideas, for example. It is a rare person who wants to see themselves as closed to exploring things further."

      You are on a journey with existing and prospective clients when looking at different financial paths they might want to pursue. Your goal is to engage in a dialogue and come to common decisions with them. To be effective, leaving the black robe behind will serve you well.

      Bottom line: Are you open to trying the phrase "are you open to" the next time you are looking to schedule a follow-up meeting?