You know what they say. The first impression can be the most important, but especially when meeting a prospective client for the first time. People tend to form their opinions about others based on all sorts of non-verbal cues. So it’s imperative that when meeting with a prospective client that financial advisors show themselves in the best light from the get go. Here are some helpful tips that should help you start out on the right foot. They also may increase your chance of sealing the deal and forming a successful business relationship.

Be Prepared and On Time

Prospective clients come to you because they need your help. They are often referred to you by a friend or through a business associate and have a particular need they believe you can fill. So, one of the best ways to prove your worth to a client is to be prepared. Find out from the first phone call or email exchange you have with a client the type of information and services that person is looking for. Then make sure you are up to snuff on that topic by the time the meeting is too takes place. (For more, see: Tips on How Financial Advisors Can Talk to Clients.)

You should also do some research into the perspective client’s resume before you meet. Find out as much as you can about where they have worked, for how long and any awards or acknowledgment they may have received. Be prepared to answer questions they may have about your background and work history as well.

It’s also imperative that you arrive to the meeting on time. It shows that you are organized and that you take your work and your clients seriously. Punctuality can say a lot about a person, so if it’s not your strong point, work on it. (For related reading, see: 5 Top Ways New Advisors Can Land Clients.)

Spiff up Your Office and Yourself

A sign of professionalism is an organized office, so if that is where you are meeting a prospective client make sure your office is clean. You don’t want a prospective client to walk into an office filled with clutter and mess. Put your files away, clean off your desktop and arrange the room so the client feels right away that you have the room and time for them. (For related reading, see: Tips for Breaking the Ice with New Clients.)

If it looks like a tornado hit your office, or if it's just plain disorganized, then meet your prospective client in a meeting or conference room instead. During the meeting put your cellular devices on silent or vibrate so that you are not continually bombarded with messages that take your focus away from the client you are in the room with. Prospective clients want to feel that you are giving them your undivided attention.

You should also dress professionally. If a client is going to let you handle his or her life’s savings, it’s important that your appearance says that their money is in good hands. Think of it this way. A client coming to meet you for the first time is essentially interviewing you for the job of managing their money and planning their financial future. So dress like you want the job. The same goes for meeting a client on the weekend. Dressing casually, like you are not at work, won’t serve you well. (For related reading, see: 5 Services to Usher in New Clients.)

It’s All in Your Attitude

A positive attitude can make all the difference. Smile when you first meet the client, to let them know that you are happy to see them and excited about the prospect of working together. Make eye contact, give a firm handshake, and listen intently when the client is speaking with you. You also want to present a relaxed and focused persona. People want to feel that you are open to taking on challenges and can work well under pressure.

You should also let the prospective client know that you enjoy your work and get satisfaction about helping people realize their financial goals. You should want success as much as they do.

Financial planners and advisors also need to make sure that they speak in a clear way that the clients can easily understand. If you use too much jargon you may lose the client. If they don’t understand what you are saying they will become less engaged. (For related reading, see: How to Deal with (Seriously) Dysfunctional Clients.)

Make sure to talk about the areas of a client’s future that have some emotional resonance, such as saving for their children’s education and retirement and creating a legacy. When discussing these issues try not talk down to the client. If they are coming to see a financial planner it’s safe to assume that they have a basic level of intelligence and that intelligence should be engaged when you speak with them. 

Be Clear About Fees

This part of the conversation can get uncomfortable, but approaching it in the right way can help. Prospective clients are looking for frank answers, not obfuscation. If you work for a fee only, tell them that, and if you are going to be compensated for selling certain products, tell them that as well. You should also find out what type of investor the client is. Ask if they tend to be more on the conservative side or if they embrace risk, then talk about how you generally work with such clients.

At the end of the meeting make sure to review any questions or subjects that were important to the client. In this way, they know that you are attentive and are taking their concerns seriously. Don’t forget to thank the client for their time and let them know they are free to contact you with any follow up questions or concerns they may have. (For related reading, see: Deal Effectively with Difficult Clients.)

The Bottom Line

When meeting a prospective client you don’t want your first impression to be your last. Take a little extra time to prepare for your meetings, be organized and show your prospective clients that you are putting your best foot forward and that you care about their financial future. (For more, see: 5 Vital Questions Advisors Should Ask New Clients.)

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