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Why “Great” is a Terrible Response to “How’s Business?”

Why “Great” is a Terrible Response to “How’s Business?”

You never know what to expect when prospecting in social circles.  Affluent prospects, like people in general, come with a rainbow of personalities.  Some are polite, others are obnoxious, while still others act like they couldn’t be bothered.  However, one question that can come from virtually anyone, at any time, is the proverbial…

How’s business?

How you answer is key – because you’ve just been given the opportunity to subtly showcase your professionalism.  Yet, we hear so many people respond to that question by emphatically stating “Great!  Couldn’t be better.”  This is one of the worst responses you can give, with the only exception being “Terrible!  Couldn’t be worse.”  Why?  Because “Great!  Couldn’t be better” can come across as canned and disingenuous. Also avoid words like “busy,” “hectic,” or “crazy.”  Think more along the lines of “productive,” which has a less frantic tone.

Try something along the lines of…

It’s going well.  As you could imagine, with all the volatility lately, we’ve been in close contact with our clients – reviewing their financial plans. It’s a lot of work – but it’s our passion.

Your objective is to position yourself as a financial advisor who is client-focused and proactive.  (If you haven’t been in close contact, or don’t do financial planning – you’ll have to choose a different response).

This type of language also sets the stage for a follow-up question that could create a window of opportunity.  If you’ve gotten their attention in any way, you’ve earned the right to ask…

Has your advisor reviewed your financial plan recently?

Obviously, you now are reading your “How’s business?” questioner – and if you see any hesitation – you’re going for the mini-close by suggesting some version of the following…

You really should have your plan reviewed in today’s environment.  Let’s grab a coffee one day next week and I’ll take a look at it.

Whether or not you get this window of opportunity, and regardless of whether or not they accept your offer – you’ve positioned yourself as a confident financial advisor who doesn’t fool around with superficialities when it comes to business questions.  And the odds are you’ve created a sales opportunity. 


If you enjoyed this article don’t miss our new YouTube show, The Stephen and Kevin Show featured on It’s fueled by advisor questions from Twitter and Instagram.  We’d love to answer a question from you for the next episode, just use #AskStephenAndKevin.

Stephen Boswell is the COO for The Oechsli Institute and author of Best Practices of Elite Advisors.  Kevin Nichols is the Director of Coaching for The Oechsli Institute and author of The Indispensable LinkedIn Sales Guide for Financial Advisors.

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