THE BLOG
05/04/2016 04:32 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

5 Essential Sales Questions

2016-05-03-1462297371-3582352-QuestionMark.jpgAs long as you're in business you'll be prospecting for clients. As you build up a successful practice, eventually you'll enjoy more referrals and the need to do 'front-line' prospecting will decrease. How can you speed up this process, you ask?

The sooner you master your sales conversations the sooner you will build a thriving business that you love.

Here are five essential sales questions that will dramatically increase the effectiveness of your prospecting interactions.

1. What made you decide to take this meeting?

A part of the reason your prospect agreed to an appointment is probably that you did a decent job of creating rapport and communicating a value proposition. But that's not enough to get most people to take action. The person sitting in front of you has an underlying need or concern that got them off the couch and into your office. The sooner you uncover this, the sooner you can customize your presentation to highlight what they care about most.

2. Why take the meeting now

?

Something urgent may have happened. They may have seen a news story or had a friend experience something that shook them up. Maybe they're just getting older and are no longer comfortable with having no financial plan. Whatever their concern is, find out why this is the moment they decided to take action. Keeping them focused on this gap will help to move them past the inertia and resistance to change that often comes up.

3. Get them to prioritize.

Ask them to name several financial goals, and then get them to prioritize their wish list using questions like: What feels most urgent right now? or What would give you some relief/peace of mind right now? Humans want instant gratification wherever possible, so helping them see that their situation will improve quickly will keep them interested and committed to the financial disclosure process.

4. What would an ideal relationship with your Advisor look like?

This question will literally give you the formula for keeping them happy! Listen very carefully to their responses and ask follow up questions. If they say 'Responsiveness - I hate when someone doesn't get back to me quickly', you can say: 'I'm glad you brought that up. My team and I are committed to responding to our clients within 24 hours and make every attempt to get back to you sooner than that. Is that a reasonable time frame in your opinion?'

Dig deeper and ask: 'Why is that important to you?' They may have felt ignored by a previous advisor. They may have missed an important financial opportunity due to a slow response. Or it may simply be an indicator in their minds of whether someone values them or is just in it for the sale. Once you set an expectation of service, make sure you meet it during the sales process. Your prospect isn't just interested in financial advice. They are testing out what it would be like to work with you.

5. What would exceed your expectations?

This question is especially useful when you are prospecting HNW clients. Just asking it shows that you are serious about high-level service. Are they focused only on market performance? Is a more personal touch what really moves them? (BTW, even if they don't say so, the answer to this is always yes!) Whatever they say, make notes and find ways to demonstrate that behaviour during the sales process, and then on an ongoing basis during the relationship. Consistently delivering on these promises will create a loyal client base and a steady stream of referrals over the years.

Get in the habit of asking these five questions during your first sit-down with prospective clients. You'll be pleasantly surprised to see how quickly they take you seriously! You'll also notice a higher level of emotional engagement from them, and bottom line, your closing rate will jump up.