A powerful discovery process is right at the core of a highly effective and engaging financial planning relationship. The quality of the information gathered from your client sets the tone for the whole partnership.
If the information you gather is shallow and limited, then the subsequent advice will feel the same to a client.
On the other hand, when clients have 'ah-ha' moments, insights, and fresh thinking, it brings the whole process to life.
In the book Clients Forever by Doug Carter he writes: "Your role is to create an environment for revelation, a setting for insight. By cultivating an atmosphere in which your prospects can discover for themselves a new connection between what's paramount to them and a product or service, you let them sell themselves.
"You listen far more than you talk. You ask a few questions. You remember that the only thing that matters is if your prospect discovers something new."
What are people paying for when they part with money for financial planning and advice? They are paying for the possibility of getting what they want. Therefore, it is essential to clearly understand what a client wants.
When people connect what they want most with the actions you are recommending they take, why would there be any resistance?
So, what can get in the way of creating an enjoyable, flowing, and powerful discovery process?
1. Trying to go too fast
Some people are ready and willing to open up about themselves very quickly. Others take longer.
You must be patient with people. If you start to feel under pressure, then clients will often pick up on this and it creates unnecessary and destructive tension.
2. Combining soft fact gathering with hard fact gathering
Filling out a factfind in the same meeting as trying to have your client or prospect get reflective will often work against you.
Reflection and revelations are most likely to happen when people fall out of their intellect. Filling out a fact find is taking people in the opposite direction.
3. Giving too much information
We live in a world where we are all are bombarded with information.
A discovery meeting should be all about the client and what matters to them. So, why use the time to give them information they probably do not need or want?
4. Giving presentations
This is similar to giving too much information. Some advisers think it is a good idea to tell clients about themselves, their firm and what they can do for people.
In the book I mentioned earlier Doug Carter says that: "Revelations stop when presentations start."
Of course, if a client asks you for information, you can supply it, but a far more effective way to establish credibility is to be curious, listen and respond intuitively.
5. Going into problem-solving mode
Just because a client shares a problem you know you can help with doesn't mean you should immediately begin to think about it or try to solve it.
Stay curious longer and find out what other problems your client has.
Ultimately, the advisers who build the strongest, most profitable, and long-lasting relationships with clients have become exceptionally good at discovering what clients want and then delivering on it.