As some of you may know, we have a digital marketing firm. We write content and design websites for evidence-based advisors (only). Everyone on our team is highly specialized, including our writers and our project managers, who coordinate with the designers.
The first draft of the design typically requires significant revisions. Our practice is to put our comments in writing, send them to the client and have a conference call to get their input. I try to be on these calls, along with the project manager.
We had such a call recently. Prior to the call, we sent three pages of comments to our client. The project manager typically leads the discussion, because she has prepared the notes. However, we have one inviolate rule that governs these calls. We begin by asking the client this question: What would you like to talk about?
In our recent call, that’s how we started. The client had a couple of points he wanted to discuss. We then asked if there was anything else on his mind. He said “no.” He added that he was fine with all our suggested changes. The call ended in 15 minutes.
What if we hadn’t asked the initial question?
We would have dominated the conversation by going through our extensive list of changes, without understanding he had no need to discuss them. We might not have understood his issues and priorities.
We are experts at writing content and executing designs consistent with little-known research on creating effective websites.
You are experts on investing and comprehensive wealth management.
We both would be justified in assuming others are interested in what we have to say. After all, they come to us for our expertise.
This assumption could not be more flawed.
Everyone has an agenda. Unless you ask, there’s no way you’ll understand it – much less address it.
Whether you’re engaged in creating website content and design or providing wealth management services, your priority is not to convey information. It’s to elicit it.
In a recent interview, Moira Somers, a neuropsychologist and author of Advice That Sticks: How to give financial advice that people will follow, made this cogent observation:
The chief problem is that advisers talk far too much — they hog the airtime that should be given over to clients. Research shows that client satisfaction is directly related to how many minutes the client spends talking in a meeting. But all too often advisers feel that they have got to impress or win over the client (especially in the initial meetings), and unfortunately, they just don’t shut up long enough to get to know the client’s real concerns in reaching out to them.
Here’s how I put it: You talk. You lose.
Resource of the week:
This interview with Moira Somers provides valuable insights on communicating with prospects and clients.