The Five Seconds When You Can Lose a Prospect

October 14, 2014

by Dan Richards

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When you meet with prospects, how long does it take for them to form the initial opinion of you that will shape their lasting perceptions?

The scary answer: Five seconds or less. To maximize the chances of a positive outcome from an initial meeting, advisors need to get a number of things right.

Creating a positive predisposition

Even if prospects have never met you in person, they have formed an opinion based on your reputation, phone conversations they’ve had with you or what they’ve heard about you from friends who are clients. My article on referral myths highlights the extent to which prospects shop for advisors.

Here is how one suburban advisor tilts an initial meeting in his favor. When this advisor sets up a meeting, his assistant sends the prospect a package containing information on the advisor’s background, process and firm. By couriering this, the advisor conveys a sense of professionalism and the extent to which he takes the meeting seriously.

When the advisor’s assistant calls to confirm the meeting two days beforehand, she says that sometimes the parking lot beside their office is full – so the prospect should look for the spot with a reserved sign with his or her name on it. Even before prospects walk into the office, they’ve formed a positive impression of the advisor’s interest, thoughtfulness and attention to detail, as well as the extent to which he stands out from other advisors they may be considering. Since he began doing this, the advisor has seen success in converting prospects into clients.

How prospects are greeted

If you’re meeting prospects in your office, they form an impression before you shake hands. That opinion is shaped by the building in which your office is located, the lobby they walk through and the way the receptionist greets them.

Some advisors have reception areas that look like those of moderately successful dentists, with dated furniture and artwork and six-month-old copies of People. Ensure that your reception area sends the right message and that the greeting from the receptionist sends the right signal. One advisor has his receptionist identify prospects by name, then say: “Dan told me that he was expecting you and to let him know as soon as you’re here. In the meantime, can I get you something to drink – coffee, tea, juice, a soft drink?”

Again, even before they’ve set eyes on the advisor, prospects have formed a positive predisposition.

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