Here's how to connect with your prospective clients.

    Imagine this scenario. It's your first meeting with a prospect. He's been ushered into your office, you've exchanged pleasantries and gotten to know each other a little bit, and now it's time to get down to business.
    Prospect: So, John, I'm here because Mike Smith suggested I meet with you. He knew I was unhappy with my current advisor, and he felt you could help me. What I'd like to know is what makes you different from my present advisor?
    Advisor: Well, Paul, that's a great question. I believe we provide the best service, offer great advice and really take care of our clients. We've been     in business for 18 years, through bull and bear markets, and we wouldn't have survived if we didn't do a good job for our clients.
    Prospect: My last advisor said pretty much the same thing. Can you be more specific about what you do that makes you different?
    Advisor: Sure. We offer our clients quarterly consolidated statements so you can see how all of your assets are doing, regardless of where they are held. We also handle all inquiries to our office promptly and coordinate with other professionals you may work with, and our fee schedule is very competitive.
    Prospect: I can appreciate that, but what I'm really getting at is what makes you tick. What's unique about you and your firm that would make me feel we have a good meeting of the minds here?

    Advisor: Paul, I really love this business. I enjoy working with people and helping them solve their problems. I built the firm so we can provide comprehensive planning services for people like you who have complex needs.

    Prospect: OK, John, I do have another place where I need to be in 30 minutes, so what else can you tell me?

    Advisor: (thinking to himself): This guy's already checked out of the conversation; what did I do wrong?
Plenty. The advisor made no connection whatsoever with the prospect. The whole conversation was delivered in generalities and went no deeper than surface level. It was like skipping stones on water. This prospect wanted more-and the advisor failed to deliver.

    Let's look at a revised version of the above scenario.

    Prospect: So, John, I'm here because Mike Smith suggested I meet with you. He knew I was unhappy with my current advisor, and he felt you could help me. What I'd like to know is what makes you different from my present advisor.

    Advisor: Well, Paul, I know there are many other advisors you could work with, but I believe what we're doing here and what we stand for is unique. Let me share something with you. When I was 16 years old, my father died of a heart attack. Unfortunately, he had only a small amount of insurance and we had few savings. For the next ten years, I watched my mother struggle as she tried to work full time and raise three kids. Money was always tight, and we lived from paycheck to paycheck, but through her love and hard work we made it. Eventually, my mom remarried and the story has a happy ending, but that experience left an indelible mark on me. It gave me the desire and conviction to work with families to help them achieve financial peace of mind. I don't want other people to go through the struggle my family did, and I don't want people to lose what they already have.

    Prospect: I can appreciate that. Your mom must be a saint.

    Advisor: She's pretty terrific, and she's a great role model for me on how to live life. As I watched my mom during those tough years, it became apparent to me that she was very clear on three things. First, taking care of our family was her number one priority. She made sure we had our basic material needs taken care of, and then she surrounded us with love. Second, she was very passionate about community service, and her passion got all us kids excited about it too. And third, she knew what she valued and what she cherished, and she lived those values.

    I know I'm telling you a lot about my mom, and you may be wondering what this has to do with my business. Because of my mom's experience, I realized that my passion was to help people financially. If I could, through thoughtful financial planning, help people multiply their current savings and earnings as well as protect what they already have, then that would give me a great sense of satisfaction. I'd feel that I was making something good out of the struggle my mother went through. So I began my business with a simple mission-to help families build their wealth for the future and protect their present assets from the unforeseen.

    My passion for helping families grow their wealth and protect their assets from the unforeseen, borne from my experience of growing up after my dad died unexpectedly, is what makes our firm unique.

    Prospect: I can see, John, that you feel very strongly about what you're doing here. What's our next step?

    Do you see the difference? In the revised scenario, the advisor never got into a discussion about service levels, consolidated statements, fee schedules or any other generic business stuff. Yes, there's a time and a place for that discussion but not at the beginning of the conversation. The prospect wants to know that he or she is dealing with a competent, caring, thoughtful, trustworthy and passionate advisor. If you can express that at the beginning of your conversation with the prospect, everything else will fall into place. But that type of conversation will only happen after you've spent some quality time reflecting on your values, your purpose, your mission and your vision.