The Importance of Likability

July 8, 2014

by By Dan Solin

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I am fascinated by the disconnect between what advisors say to persuade prospects to become clients and what data indicate would actually work. The truth is that most of us need to radically change our approach to prospect meetings.

Many advisors conduct meetings with prospects by presenting, educating and explaining technical aspects of finance. As I discussed in a previous article, the data indicates that advisors should abandon this approach. It would be far more productive to ask questions, listen and establish an emotional connection.

Often, prospects interview a number of different advisors before deciding which one they will choose to manage their assets. If you ask how they made their decision, most prospects would tell you that they objectively and rationally selected the best-qualified advisor. They may believe that, but it’s probably untrue.

What drives decisions

We can learn a lot about how prospects pick advisors from criteria used by employers to make decisions about hiring. As Richard Wiseman explains in his excellent book, 59 Seconds: Change Your Life in Under a Minute, employers believe they hire the job applicants whose skills best fit the position. But a prominent study demonstrates that another factor sways the decision-making process. Wiseman refers to this factor as “a mysterious and powerful force.”

The study collected data from 116 undergraduate business students who registered for job-search assistance at their campus placement office. The researchers collected data on the qualifications and work experience of the job applicants, and interviewed the students after they went on job interviews.

The study found that an employer’s decision about whether or not to make a job offer isn’t based on qualifications or work experience. The critical factor influencing the hiring decision is whether or not the candidate is a pleasant person. According to Wiseman, “those who had managed to ingratiate themselves were very likely to be offered a position.”

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