Financial advisors often approach discovery meetings with prospects as an opportunity to ‘sell’ the value of the financial planning services they provide. This is often done by having the advisor learn about the prospect’s needs and show the prospect how the advisor can help them achieve their financial goals, ideally motivating the prospect to sign up for the advisor’s services. But for some prospects, the value they will get from an advisor is not just in the dollars and cents of planning, but also in making changes to their behavior. Which means that advisors can help prospects get on the path to change (often starting with actually signing up for the advisor’s services!) by using financial psychology and behavior change principles with effective discovery meeting questions.
The Transtheoretical Model (TTM) of change offers a framework that can help financial advisors motivate clients who might be resistant to or struggling with change. TTM involves a 6-step process, where each step is designed to help individuals progress through change. Notably, the TTM process intersects with the financial planning process and the common challenges that arise in financial planning meetings can often be aligned with and explained by the different stages of TTM. For instance, new prospects might still be in the pre-contemplation stage of TTM, when they aren’t clearly aware of the problems they should solve, or they may be in the contemplation stage of TTM, when they are aware of a problem but aren’t yet ready to take action on it. In these cases, deciding whether there is value in engaging with an advisor at all and whether they will be able to follow through on what the advisor will ask them to do are often the key challenges for prospects that the advisor can address in the discovery meeting.
With this in mind, crafting the right questions to help prospects absolve themselves of the doubts they may have about an advisor’s value and their own ability to take on the responsibility of following their financial plan can serve both the prospect and the advisor well – because building up a prospect’s confidence in the advisor’s value and in their own capability to follow their plan (with their advisor’s support, of course!) will increase their own chance of success as well as the likelihood that they will sign on as a client.
Accordingly, there are 3 questions advisors can ask to address doubt by understanding what makes their prospects feel dissatisfied. These include asking about the prospect’s (dis)satisfaction with their net worth, with their financial decision making and self-confidence, as well as with their financial relationships. Together, these questions can help the advisor discover specific challenges that the prospect faces and start a conversation about how working with the advisor could help address these issues.
There are also 3 questions that explore the forces leading prospects to delay and procrastinate. These include exploring how prospects value action, talking about next steps, and asking the prospect to get started working with the advisor. These questions and the resulting discussion can help spur prospects to take action by officially becoming a client.
Ultimately, the key point is that while asking these 6 questions all together might not necessarily result in more prospect discovery meetings or better conversion rates, advisors might find that new clients are more likely to comply with their plans and take action on their tasks when this approach is used from the start of the relationship. Because at the end of the day, the more advisors are able to support the process of behavior change in their client relationships, the easier and more impactful their client work will become!