In our previous column [Sept. "The Value Mindset"] we illustrated how you can establish a "value mindset" and develop your own Value Mindset Skill Model. We outlined the following five steps of the model:

Step One: Develop Rapport or Reconnect

Step Two: State Your Objectives

Step Three:Confirm Client/Prospect Expectations

Step Four: Confirm the Time

Step Five: Bridge to the Next Appropriate Direction in the Meeting

If you followed our guidelines, you were able to: 1) properly begin client dialogue; 2) demonstrate a leadership position by directing the flow of the conversation; and 3) initiate a meeting with a mindset of value.

Now you need to begin the process of becoming a "world-class" financial advisor. This happens as you learn to identify your prospect's or client's value criteria. Yesterday's business model required that you ask probing questions to discover what the clients' needs were. Once obtained, you could then focus on features and benefits of certain products and "sell" the client on the solution best suited for them.

Today, however, world-class advisors embrace the theme of value and use strategic questioning to align their value to what their clients value. How do you do that? It's easy, once you develop a framework of questions to help you get to the heart of what they truly value. In this column, we'll cover the strategies in our VALUE Questioning Strategy (VALUEQS) to help you get to the heart of what your clients value, as well as build your case for explaining your own value.

If you are a loyal follower (and user) of the Value Ladder, you already know we believe that "business is first a meeting of the hearts, then becomes a meeting of the minds." Establishing rapport and making emotional connections is the key, ultimately, to making logical connections with your prospects and clients. Your questioning skills are a key to making that critical emotional connection. Asking your clients the right "open" and "closed" questions will help them, and you, understand what they value most. Your questions will take them through the same type of introspective process you experienced while learning the Value Ladder to discover your unique value.