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By David RichmanNational Director, Eaton Vance Advisor Institute

Years ago, an advisor requested a consult regarding recent challenges in attracting new clients. He was running a bit late so his assistant ushered me into his office and offered me a particular chair, which gave me a glorious view of the city. When the advisor apologetically arrived 10 minutes later, he took the chair across from me in front of an elegant bookshelf.

After several minutes of conversation, I asked: "Is this the position you and prospective clients typically take in a meeting?"

Advisor: "Absolutely! I always want them to soak in the majestic view."

David: "It is indeed a beautiful view. Would you please turn around and read the cover on the spine of the book on the second shelf, sixth from the right side of the shelf?

There they were — plain as day — two words on the spine of a book: "invisible selling." Unfortunately, this book was prominently positioned just behind the left side of his face.

Am I saying this oversight was the reason he was having problems attracting new clients? Of course not. On the other hand, maybe a prospect or two also noticed it?

More recently, an advisor we have been coaching for years asked me to tune into a Zoom rehearsal session for a client event he was delivering later in the day. He sounded terrific and looked great in a perfectly starched white button-down. However, a cluttered credenza was behind him. Here he was trying to convey a highly professional and organized demeanor, but his backdrop told a different story.

Bottom line: Seeing is believing. Take a careful look at your total work environment. Whether in person or virtual, existing and prospective clients are most apt to believe what they see more than what they hear.