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By David RichmanManaging Director, Advisor Institute

Have you ever been on a prospecting call where the the prospect is still speaking and you are already framing your next comment? We have all been there.

When your goal is to "get the meeting," it fosters "angle-based listening" — taking a cue from the prospect's response to pivot to asking for the meeting. We advocate that you reframe the purpose of the call to be discovering whether a next step with a prospect makes sense.

Then, approach each conversation with a healthy dose of "agendaless" listening to help you collaborate with an open mind and make certain prospective clients feel they are active participants in the conversation. Here's how:

1. Ask thoughtful open-ended questions. The fuel for great listening starts with great asking — asking the right questions and continues by asking appropriate follow-up questions that allow the conversation to move forward toward the next level of client understanding

2. Concentrate on understanding. Go beyond the superficial and silently seek answers to such underlying questions as:

  • "What might be a client's or prospect's deep feelings and attitudes about money?" "How does money impact a client's or prospect's self-image?"
  • "What memories, obsolete beliefs or family influences may be affecting their decisions about money?" "How can I best help them?"

Why silently seeking answers? Because blurting out questions such as those above will likely send them packing. Once they understand that you are genuinely interested, you might want to say something such as, "I am asking these questions to help better assess whether we can be of value to you."

3. Go beyond words. As your clients talk, listen carefully. Go beyond their words — their "text" — and notice their "subtext" — the meaning behind their words.

4. Dive deeper. Formulate more questions to ask. You can replicate a doctor's method and say:

  • "Is there anything else? That's interesting. Please tell me more."
  • "What I hear you saying is    . Is that correct?"

Bottom line: To fully hear and understand prospective clients, you need to do more than pause your presentation. You need to pause your agenda.