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By David RichmanNational Director, Eaton Vance Advisor Institute

The turning of the calendar always creates opportune moments to call prospective clients. Holiday reflections and thoughts regarding the year ahead often prompt ideas related to potential financial repositioning — and the pandemic has likely increased such propensities.

Every prospect you have spoken to in the past who, for whatever reason, did not become your client, could represent opportunity. As you approach these calls, consider the difference between karate and judo.

You call Jim, a prospect you spoke to several months ago who suggested you "check back with me after year-end." After some pleasantries, you proceed:

"Jim, you asked me to circle back with you in the new year. How are you doing with these confusing financial markets?"

Jim responds, "Doing just fine. We are still sitting mostly in cash. I think this world is NUTS!!!" Now what do you say?

At this point in the conversation, we can learn a great deal from the world of martial arts. Consider the difference between judo and karate.

Karate is mostly about throwing punches, blocking and counterpunching. Once you block that first punch and throw your own (think objection-handling), you are likely moving down a slippery slope to a bad outcome.

Judo, on the opposite end of the spectrum from karate, looks and feels more like a dance. In judo, when your opponent moves some force your way (analogous to a punch in karate), rather than blocking that force, you actually use the other person's momentum to propel the conversation forward.

Judo is a very good way to visualize how you should respond. What would be the optimal judo-like response to his proclamation, "... still sitting mostly in cash. I think this world is NUTS!!!"

How about simply agreeing with him? My absolute favorite response is "This world is nuts, isn't it?" Then say nothing further.

Jim is likely to run with that and share with you his concerns about the world. Now, you are well on your way to learning a great deal about what Jim is thinking and how you might be able to help him.

Bottom line: Practice judo, not karate. By mastering this skill, you will be well on your way to turning many more suspects into real prospects.