QUESTION: How can I get more appointments with prospects and get them to buy into my recommendations better?  

Be more authoritative. When you aren’t authoritative, people won’t take your calls; agree to appointments; take your advice; buy what you’re selling; introduce or even refer you. Being authoritative is especially critical today when so much business is virtual. That’s where your style is pivotal. Here’s how to be more authoritative:

  1. Speak to your expertise only. Being authoritative is not about guessing. If you are in above your pay grade, out of your league or your depth, or strictly an amateur, your advice will never have the ring of authority. When you are authoritative you can make the complicated simple. Use other subject matter experts when you are out of your depth, and you’ll enhance your credibility and reputation.
  2. Use closed ended, Yes/No questions to qualify clients and get them to ask you to help them. When they ask for help, they make you their advisor and give you authority to advise them. At the beginning of a meeting, ask qualifying questions to determine what advice answers your prospect’s current “hot button”. That where they are interested, will invest the time and money, and will act on today.
  3. The best first question is simply, “Obviously you had a reason for meeting with me today, would you mind telling me what that is?” Targeting your advice to their primary needs first is the best way to be authoritative.
  4. Help clients advise themselves with the right questions. Hal Zlotnick’s “Broad Concept” approach asks what the client wants to happen when a particular situation occurs. So, rather than telling people what they ought to do in that circumstance, ask them what they want to happen. For instance, instead of telling someone the benefits of planning properly for their family’s financial security upon their death, ask them what they want to happen in a security threatening situation. They have a better idea than you think.
  5.  Start strong when you begin any presentation. Make a compelling statement or ask a challenging question. Repeat or answer that question or statement at the end to close the circle and be extra authoritative.
  6. Adlibs are for amateurs. Whenever possible, script your talking points so you get your best ideas out in the best order. Top advisors always use scripts and talking points so they can be their best all the time.
  7.  Speak simply. Use short sentences, short words, and simple ideas and you will connect with anyone. Einstein said that if you couldn’t speak simply, you didn’t know your topic well enough. If anyone can understand, anyone can buy. Professionals take the complicated and makes it simple. Amateurs take the simple and make it complicated.
  8.  Speaking authoritatively with your clients has never been more important than it is today. Remove tentative language from your advice like “I’m not sure what you want to do” or, “Here’s an option you may want to consider” or, “Maybe this applies to you”, or “Maybe this will help”, or What would you like to do?”. This is not leadership. Be authoritative: “Mr. Prospect, after speaking with you, this is the program I recommend. I know it will meet your goals.”
  9. Inspire your clients - Lead them where they ought to go not just where they want to go. Inspiring advice that you absolutely believe in and take yourself is the most powerful. Your passion for your business and advice attracts more new business, referrals, and introductions than anything else you do.
  10. Be a thought leader. Deep knowledge is the secret weapon of top advisors. It makes the average awesome and the mediocre, magnificent. Be specific to be terrific. You are a thought leader when you know more than your competition. Never stop learning in your specialty.
  11. Speak more slowly than you want to. An authoritative pace is about 80 words per minute. That means leaving – time – between – phrases - for effect.
  12. Stand up, ensure that the top of your head touches the top of the frame, and show your hands to be more believable in virtual presentations. Look alive. Proper production value is a necessity to be authoritative.
  13. Practice. There are two kinds of practice. The first is where you stand up and repeatedly read your scripts dozens of times not until you get it right, but until you can’t get it wrong. The second type is real world practice - putting yourself to the test with real people. Succeeding sometimes. And failing other times. But, when you fail, fail forward, learning what you can do better and doing better next time. Practice your work more than you practice your hobby.

Use these ideas and you will be more authoritative, get more appointments, close more sales and be more successful long-term.

This column by renowned advisor coach Jim Ruta was first published in the December 2021 edition of Insurance Journal magazine.

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Jim Ruta’s mission is simple – to preserve, promote and propel the financial advisor business. A former insurance advisor and executive manager of a 250-advisor agency, Jim is a highly regarded coach, author, podcaster and keynote speaker. He has spoken 4 times at the MDRT Annual Meeting including the Main Platform. Jim Ruta is an Executive Coach and Keynote speaker specializing in life insurance advisors and leaders. He works with top advisors around the world and re-energizes audiences with his deep insight and passion. 

If you have a question for Jim, you may send an email to [email protected]