Excellent communication means knowing the right questions and when to ask them. It also means listening with empathy. When it's your turn to talk, you know how to articulate your ideas and your advice with conviction. Your clients and prospects know that you are focused on them, and as a result they respond positively and take appropriate action.  

Review your notes and the script for your meetings with both clients and prospects and consider these things: What questions do you ask? In what sequence do you ask your questions? Are you truly listening with empathy or are you formulating what you are going to say next? How do you respond to their questions or comments and then come back to ask your next planned question? What is it they really want? Can you make the conversation valuable for them whether they hire you or not? Do you know what to say when the appropriate thing to do is to "politely disengage" and not offer to be hired?

Having a script or talking points is not about memorizing the words and sounding like a robot. It's not a sales technique. The script is there to show them you are prepared and that you want them to have a good, constructive experience.

Sometimes a positive result is deciding not to work together. The objective of good communication is to determine fit, not close the sale.

If you have ever heard me speak before, you have probably heard me say, "You build trust by listening to the client's story, not by telling yours." Patricia Fripp says, "Salespeople often talk too much about themselves and their service or product. They make a speech rather than having an exchange or interaction, otherwise known as conversation." What makes it a better conversation for the client is when you ask the questions and they do most of the talking. It shouldn't be superficial chitchat about how long they've lived in the neighborhood, the weather or their favorite sports team. Your questions should evoke a meaningful emotional response.

Motivational speaker and author Giovanni Livera puts it this way: "When you connect people to their heart, you connect them to you." (See his Web site, www.giovanniexperiences.com.)

Great communicators are truth tellers. That doesn't mean you have to be mean and completely tactless, or say things like, "Wow! That's an ugly baby." As Dianna Booher, author of the books Voices of Authority and Communicate with Confidence, puts it, "The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth should not be three separate things." In other words, the truth should be compelling enough by itself to inspire your prospects and clients to action. You don't have to resort to spin, hype, exaggeration or embellishment to make them hire you or take your advice.

The most successful communicators record their meetings with clients. (Olympus and Sony both make excellent hand-held digital recorders.) Recording allows you to achieve two great results. One, you hear how you can be doing a better job for your clients, and two, you become a better communicator in the future. Prospects and clients love it when financial advisors record the meetings. Why? Because your actions demonstrate that you truly care enough to get it right.

Here's how you introduce the recorder in a way that gives you more credibility: "I appreciate the investment of time and effort you made to be here today. You'll notice that I'll ask many relevant questions and take copious notes, and I also record the meeting. The reason is that I'm very thorough. If we choose to work together, I'll listen to this recording at least one more time." Ask them if they've ever watched a movie more than once to see things they missed the first time.
If so, you can say, "Giving you advice about your money so you can achieve your goals is obviously much more important than a movie, so we want to make sure our advice s right for you." And then you ask your first question.

Don't be surprised when they nod and smile because they are impressed with your thoroughness and professionalism. Only the most paranoid people would refuse to let you record, and you want to know about them sooner rather than later.