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How to Improve Your Power of Persuasion

Four key components useful in any form of human interaction.

Few sales skills are as misunderstood as the power of persuasion. Too many financial advisors think they’ve got this skill mastered, but have developed the habit of making classic mistakes; talking too much, not listening, using too many facts and figures–all in an attempt to persuade a client, prospect or COI to their point of view and expertise. Unfortunately, these can create unnecessary barriers in persuading the other person (prospect, COI, client) to their messaging.

Persuasion in the affluent sales process isn’t complicated. We’ve broken it down into four key components:

  • Trust – I recently wrote a piece titled How to Use the Neuroscience of Trust to Increase Your AUM, which outlines both the science and specific actions you can take to both gain and strengthen trust. Trust on a personal level is essential for showcasing your expertise and your credibility.

    This requires having an emotional connection with whomever you’re attempting to persuade. Unfortunately, there is a big disconnect on this issue. For the past 20-plus years, our affluent and financial advisor research has continued to highlight a big perception gap; 25% of the affluent and 75% of financial advisors think they have an emotional connection with one another. These numbers change slightly from year to year, but there’s consistently a gap in the 50-point range. This is a huge issue–a serious indicator that many financial advisors have a lot of work to do in strengthening this primal issue of trust.

    It’s also important to understand that numbers, market projections, portfolio returns and various other data points do not make an emotional connection. They don’t engender trust.
  • Credibility – You can also think of this as your expertise. That said, this is another area in which many financial advisors make the mistake of assuming they have credibility. We all know that when the markets go up, portfolios tend to follow suit–yet, rightly or wrongly, many affluent clients don’t credit their advisor for their gains.

    Here is where the neuroscience of trust comes into play; place yourself in the shoes of your client. This requires an understanding of both how they’re feeling and what they’re thinking. In other words, don’t get a sore shoulder patting yourself on the back regarding performance when the market goes up. Sure, you mention it, but now it’s important to understand that you need to reinforce your expertise by other means; outside experts, independent research reports, respected periodicals and so on. All of which serve as a transformative process that in turn validates your credibility.
  • Complementing Stories – As I mentioned above, numbers do not make an emotional impact. That is, not when used alone. However, when complemented with a story or a relevant analogy that is concise and conversational, numbers then have context and therefore gain an emotional connection. They have been taken and applied to day-to-day reality.

    The best persuaders collect stories and catalog them relative to topics that are, or should be, important to the client or prospect. Not only do they constantly collect stories, but elite persuaders also practice telling them as they recognize the importance of these relevant stories coming across as natural conversation. However, it’s important to not have stories that are too long. Less is more and practice leads to a more natural-feeling conversation.
  • Mini-close – There’s no persuasion without a call to action. However, at this stage, it would be wise to forgo all those closing techniques you learned as a rookie and simply replace them with what we refer to as a mini-close. This is something so simple, so understated and seamless, that at this stage in the process of persuasion you’ve increased the odds in your favor dramatically.

    My favorite is asking a simple, but perfectly timed question: Can I make a suggestion? Whether it’s adjusting an existing portfolio, transferring a client’s assets held elsewhere, transforming a social prospect encounter into a scheduled business meeting, or encouraging a prospect in a business meeting into a client—you’ve paved the way for the mini-close. This simple act is what will bring your powers of persuasion to fruition. And yes—this also takes practice, and for some, it requires going out of their comfort zone.

The beauty of mastering the power of persuasion is that it’s a skill that can be learned and can be used in any form of human interaction.

Matt Oechsli is author of Building a Successful 21st Century Financial Practice: Attracting, Servicing & Retaining Affluent

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