Ten Minutes that Uncovers What?s Really Important to Prospects

Advisor Perspectives welcomes guest contributions. The views presented here do not necessarily represent those of Advisor Perspectives.Dan Richards

It can be incredibly hard to get prospects – and even some clients – to let down their guard and talk openly about what really matters to them.

That’s why a 10-minute Priorities Exercise is an essential tool. Using a list of 20 possible priorities as a starting point, the exercise quickly homes in on the most important issues in people’s lives in a comfortable, unobtrusive fashion.

This is not designed for the initial conversation with a prospect, but rather is something to use on the second or third meeting. That’s because you’re asking people to share very personal information – and you haven’t typically earned the right to ask for that information on the first meeting.

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Setting up the conversation

The best way to introduce this is during the wrap-up to a meeting with a potential client. If they agree to a follow-up meeting, whether in the immediate future or down the road, say something like: “ I look forward to talking further. When we meet, I’d like to spend 10 minutes on a short exercise that will help me better understand your priorities and the most important things you want to achieve. I’ve done this myself and have conducted it with my clients and both they and I have found it useful.” Asked this way, there’s a high probability that when you call to set up a follow-up conversation and remind the prospect of the exercise, they’ll readily agree to it include it in the meeting.

This exercise would fit well into the early part of a meeting. First, give the prospect 20 cards with one priority per card, explaining that they should define the priorities in any way they wish; the priorities are listed below. Then ask them to put the cards in order with the priority that is most important to them first and the least important last. Explain that this list can help bring clarity when faced with any important decision, whether a new job opportunity, retiring early, buying a vacation property, an entrepreneurial venture, relocating to another city or deciding on an investment. You can give prospects the priorities on a piece of paper, but the cards make it easier to quickly rank the priorities.