Keep your focus on the client

By Donna Glasgow | August 19 2013 06:06PM

Family owned businesses are anxious to find trusted advisors, says James Burton chairman and CEO of PPI. “These clients do not want order takers. They want and they need and they will get trusted advisors.”

How can you become a trusted advisor to these high net worth clients? One of the keys is to become a specialist, Mr. Burton explains. “You can’t know everything about everything, but you can know everything about something.”

Another key is to become knowledgeable. This ties into the advisor’s commitment to education and also to their preparation for the client, he adds.

Thirdly, if you want to be a trusted advisor you must develop a conviction: “You have to become passionate that what you do matters. What we do matters in terms of funding estate planning, funding estate equalization, holding companies together, funding capital gains tax, creating charitable gifting…” It is also important to develop confidence, though not arrogance. A trusted advisor needs the confidence to be able “to take very complex material and break it down into simple ideas and simple questions and become a team player.” A trusted advisor, he adds, works with others to provide the client with a broad consultative approach.

Client focus is essential to success, he adds. This means knowing “What I do in the meeting. What do I do that sets me apart as a trusted advisor from a hustler?”

First, he says, that when you are with a client, you are entirely with the client. That means you are there to listen to the customer. “Push aside all of your own thinking and all of your interest in earning commission…”

Instead, put your full focus on the client and this requires preparation, such as obtaining knowledge before the client meeting about the customer and his or her industry. Knowledge is invested energy and this investment sets apart the trusted advisor from the rest, Burton says.

The trusted advisor knows the questions, not the answers, he adds. The traditional approach of memorizing sales approaches, questions and answers to objections should be thrown out. Instead, the trusted advisor asks the questions and listens deeply. The customer will answer these questions and eventually solve their own problem.

“Allow the client to be an active participant in the process,” advises Burton. “Challenge the client to dream.”