“Frankly I didn’t have a problem until YOU showed up”
One of our many coaching clients wanted to understand why he just wasn’t connecting well with prospects and consequently asked us to critique his presentation skills. I had him record a meeting he had with a prospect so that we could gain real world insight into where he could perhaps improve. His initial rapport building although not what I would call personalized did break the ice and engage the prospect. At that point this advisor engaged in some discovery with the prospect to uncover opportunities where he could help this prospect. He did not use trilogy questions which would have given him deeper insight into the real issues this individual needed solved. But nonetheless he did uncover some important topics of concern to the prospect. But then the wheels came off!
The advisor said, “Well let me tell you what your problem is and what you’re doing wrong,” and then delivered a litany around not having the right plan, too many of the wrong investments, and no real knowledge of market opportunities. Sweet.
At the end of this dissertation by the advisor the prospect (likely looking the advisor straight in the eye) said with a very adamant tone, “Frankly I didn’t have a problem until YOU showed up.”
At which point the advisor attempted to backtrack with a variety of statements which concluded with “well these are your problems.” Doubly sweet.
At this point the prospect said and I quote again, “This meeting is over. I thought you were here to solve my problems not to just point out what I am doing wrong and blame me for them.”
So what does this reveal for all of us?
First and foremost, always attack the problem(s) not the person. Second, position yourself up front as a problem solver not an investigative reporter. Third, be keenly aware that what you say matters most to the person who hears it.
Here is how this should have been approached.
“Ok it is clear we have several issues we can work on together and solve them successfully. I am going to reiterate them to be sure we are both focused on the same things. You have a plan now that needs some review and possible revamping. You have some investments that although good when you first made them now need to be looked at given today’s market conditions and the direction you want your financial future to take. What else is important to you besides these issues?”
Notice with this approach issues are raised but only as a list to be assessed fully and then solved.
Too often when meeting with prospects and clients you can see the solution before the prospect even knows they have a problem. Be careful that you don’t start spewing forth the problems as if they are the prospect or client’s fault. Most of the time they aren’t, they are switching advisors because they sense they have problems and their hope is you will see them, address them and solve them. They really aren’t interested or receptive to being thrown under the proverbial bus.
That approach will certainly make the wheels come off.
C. Richard Weylman is CEO and CDO of The Weylman Center for Excellence in Practice Management and leads a team of certified consultants &coaches who specialize in “Elevating Your Business Performance in Today’s Marketplace”.
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