No matter how many hours you spend on their affairs, it’s when you talk to clients that really count, whether on the phone or in meetings.

Last week I spoke to an advisor who structures his week to spend maximum time with clients – he typically has 12 to 15 meetings a week, preferably face-to-face, but if that’s not possible over the phone.

How should advisors maximize the impact of their “face time” with clients?  Here are three steps to effective client conversations: speak, listen and pause.

The 60-second rule

An effective conversation, whether in person or on the phone, begins with clearly defined goals.

I’ve written in the past that you should have at least two goals for every client interaction; ideally, you will put those goals in writing. First and most important, you should have a goal that if achieved will make clients better off and advance their agenda. Once that has been accomplished, you should also have a secondary goal that will advance your business and your agenda; that goal may be as basic as solidifying client confidence and your relationship or it could encompass broadening the areas in which you work.

I’ve also written about the benefits of a written agenda to help shape the meeting –both advisors and clients have told me how a written agenda keeps a meeting on track and delivers greater value for the time spent.

So you have clear goals and a written agenda going into a meeting – what next?

Ask most advisors what determines an effective conversation, and the most common (and absolutely incorrect) answer is “what you say.”

But the first determinant of an effective conversation is not what you say, but how you say it. You need to make your key points not just with conviction, but with brevity and in a way that engages clients. How long does the average client give you their full attention before their mind starts begins wandering and they begin tuning out?

The terrifying answer:  60 seconds.

See full article on Three Steps to Effective Client Conversations by Dan Richards, Advisor Perspectives.