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Five Things Smart Advisors Never Say

These verbiage mistakes can kill your positioning, make you seem pushy or showcase a sales-first mentality.

Two financial advisors can perform the same activities, one with tremendous results, the other struggling to land new business and retain clients. The reason is often the language they use and how they use it. 

There are some words and phrases that, in working with the affluent, should never be used. These verbiage mistakes can kill your positioning, make you seem pushy, or showcase a sales-first mentality. Here are five things smart advisors never say: 

“I think you might want to consider…”

Why not?: If you were to visit a physician’s office, would they use so many “softeners?”  Probably not. They would simply say, “I recommend...” We all fall victim to using an occasional softener like “I think” or “it might make sense” from time to time, we just have to be careful to not overdo it.  

Instead: Be more direct with your recommendations with words like “recommend,” “advise” or “urge.” With a bit of assertiveness, you’ll come across as more confident and capable.  

“Let me know if you ever want me to take a look…”

Why not?: Never in the history of sales has this landed a new account. It gives the prospect the easiest possible exit. They might say, “sounds good” or “I’ll keep that in mind,” but they’ll rarely request a meeting.

Instead: Use a closed-ended question like, “Would you be open to discussing your investments with me?” Being direct takes some courage, but lets you know exactly where you stand.

“I can offer you a no-obligation…”

Why not?: When I hear “no-obligation,” it makes me think the opposite … that I’m certainly obligated to hear your sales pitch. Maybe it’s because that phrase has been thrown around so loosely over the years, from mattresses to blenders to car insurance. 

Instead: If you’re offering a consultation, you could say, “request a meeting” or “speak with an advisor” and come across more polished and professional.

“I just wanted to touch base…”

Why not?: Every follow-up should have intention. When you conclude one prospect meeting, you should already be positioning what the next meeting will entail.  

Instead: If they’ve been through your series of prospect meetings and you’re waiting on them to make a decision, consider other creative ways to “touch base.”  You could send along a helpful resource, create a video sales letter or draft a handwritten thank you note.

“If I don’t hear back from you…”

Why not?: This phrase acknowledges that you’re pretty sure they won’t be taking action. In their mind, it means they don’t have to take action … you’re going to follow-up anyway.  

Instead: Put the ball firmly in their court. You could say, “As a next step, I need you to provide me with _____.  Do you think that’s doable by the end of this week?”

This list could go on for days, but these are some of the most common and avoidable. What parts of your vocabulary could use a tune-up? What about your team? With better language comes better results! 

Stephen Boswell is a partner with The Oechsli Institute, a firm that specializes in research and training for the financial services industry. @StephenBoswell

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