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By David RichmanManaging Director, Advisor Institute

Every phone call unfolds like a decision tree. The choices you make in real time have a profound impact on the trajectory and success of your call.

The most common error advisors make during our phone skills workshops is what I've dubbed "the premature pivot"—asking for a meeting before uncovering anything of interest. These advisors then seem surprised when the role-playing prospect pushes back, puts them off or simply declines the invitation.

Here are two antidotes to the premature pivot:

  1. Reframe your mindset about the purpose of your phone call. What if you reframed your purpose from getting a meeting to a mutual exploration, to see if it makes sense to have a first meeting? You might think there's a subtle difference—hardly.
  2. Tame your inner voice. Our inner voice is often whispering or even shouting "I know what I can say right now to look smart." Replace that thought with "What can I ask right now to learn more?" instead.

Consider a role play where the prospective client just closed on the sale of their business—the first meaningful liquidity event for them and their family. The prospect was referred by their lawyer Bill.

Advisor: "Bill shared that you just sold your business."

Prospect: "Closed on the sale a few weeks ago."

Advisor: "That's great! Have you put any thought into what you would like to do with the proceeds?"

Imagine the range of possible exploration that could unfold if the advisor reframed their mindset about the purpose of the call and tamed their inner voice. Here's one example from a recent role play:

Advisor: "Congratulations! Such an achievement. We've had the honor of serving other clients in your situation and know every business sale has a unique story. Would you mind sharing yours?"

This one question allowed the advisor to discover so much about the client's journey and current situation, which led to the mutual conclusion that scheduling a meeting made sense. As in this case, when executed well, there's no abrupt, potentially uncomfortable, pivot. 

Bottom Line: Reframe your mindset about the purpose of your call and tame your inner voice to help ensure a more fluid conversation evolves and scheduling a get-together becomes a natural extension of the discussion.