by Certified Coach Alissa Gauger, MBA
Have you ever noticed how you go from a meeting that is mainly a series of questions (Fact Finder) to a meeting that has barely any (the Close)? What would your closes be like if they included some high impact questions?
What is the value of a question? In our modern world, being asked a really great question can feel amazing. It can spark us to see something in a new light, to help us solve our own problems and even create a bond with other people. As an advisor, when you ask your client a really insightful question you show them that you are actively listening, and that you trust them and see them as a partner with whom you want to truly collaborate. Additionally, you can take on a coaching role if you are willing to take a little time with the process which can help move your clients to action sooner.
Here are some common scenarios that you can try addressing with questions:
1) The client is struggling to make a decision to move forward with permanent insurance.
What about this decision is holding you back?—it might be irrational or rational.
What is the worst thing that could happen if you decide to move forward? Then what?
You seem a little [fearful/worried/apprehensive], can you tell me about that?
2)You observe that the client is making excuses that they can’t afford to move forward, even though your analysis shows otherwise.
Use author and coach Martha Beck’s tool “the 5 whys” to get to the bottom of what’s really going on:
Advisor: Why do you want to hold off on this today?
Client: I can’t afford it.
Advisor: Why do you say that?
Client: It makes me uncomfortable.
Advisor: Why do you feel uncomfortable?
Client: Because I never feel like there’s enough money.
Advisor: Why do you feel like there’s never enough money?
Client: We didn’t grow up with much.
Advisor: Why do you think that’s coming up right now?
Client: It just really worries me to ever be in that situation ever again.
From here, you can have an honest conversation about the client’s fears about money and offer them more support.
3)The client doesn’t seem committed to the plan.
If we can only move forward with one thing on this plan, what would it be?
If you could look back on today from the future, what would you tell yourself?
How do you like to work together? Does it help you to really learn about things, do you like to plan and organize, do you prefer to jump right in or are you a visual person?
How can I help you take action?
Instead of being tempted to educate or even lecture your clients at every turn, try adding in some thoughtful questions to help your clients move to action. In most cases, your clients understand that what you are offering advances them. What is holding them back may not be logical, rational or reasonable. By asking good questions, you can help your clients overcome hurdles that have likely been there a long time. That can pave the runway for a long and fruitful partnership.