Turns out strategies like warning, threatening, advising and persuading with logic don’t work very well with clients. And neither does divulging too much of your personal stories to clients.
Father-and-son duo Ted and Brad Klontz presented two workshops at FPA Retreat 2016 at the Wigwam Resort in Arizona that gave attendees one key takeaway: listen to your clients and they’ll respond positively.
While a majority of the sessions at Retreat, which had a theme of storytelling, encouraged planners to tell their stories, the Klontz team said that the only story you really need to relay is that you can listen exquisitely and that should be enough.
“If you’re doing a great job of listening, your clients are going to feel they got to know you,” Brad Klontz said.
The only time it is appropriate to tell your personal story, Brad Klontz said, is if the client has you on a pedestal and it’s hurting your relationship and there is a need to “decrease role resistance” to connect better with that client.
“Even then, less is more and later is better,” Brad Klontz said.
A few tips to help you engage in what the Klontz team dubbed “exquisite listening” are:
Assess client’s readiness to change. The Klontz team said 2 out of 10 people are ready at any given moment to change something. Even though your clients have sought you out doesn’t mean they’re ready to make a change, so you can’t treat all clients as if they are in the action stage.
You can spot resistance in clients and shift your strategy.
“If you continue to push a client who is resistant you’re actually doing harm,” Brad Klontz said. “The more confrontation you have with a client, the less likely they are to change.”
When you notice resistance, get into listening mode.
Turn questions into statements. When we are asked questions, we are automatically on the defensive, Ted Klontz said, even if it’s just a simple question. Our heartrate quickens as though we are being attacked, he added.
“Clients already feel stupid when they come into your office, don’t make it worse by asking questions,” Brad Klontz said.
“It isn’t that you don’t request information, it’s how you request information,” Ted Klontz added.
So instead of saying something like, “Last time you came in you said you were going to make a budget and you didn’t, why is that?” Say something like, “It seems you’re not ready to make a budget right now, tell me more about that.”
“Go from being the inquisitor to somebody they can share things with,” Ted Klontz said.
Employ the flow technique. After you encourage the client to share more information via a statement, simply listen until you feel you cannot retain any more information or until you notice the speaker’s energy drops, then summarize what they’ve said in 2-3 sentences, showing you are interested and engaged and, hopefully, forging a strong connection.
“That’s what exquisite listening is,” Ted Klontz said, “sacred moments of connection.”
See the Klontz presentation here.
Did you miss Retreat this year, or just want to register for 2017 early? Join us next year at Château Élan in North Atlanta, Georgia April 24-27, 2017. Use the code PARET17 for $100 off if you register before May 31, 2016.
Journal of Financial Planning