Creating the Pivotal Moment

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During one of my recent cumulative group coaching sessions, I had a discovery myself as I listened to my adviser clients. Our discussion was about losing the connection with a prospect during a meeting and somehow magically turning the conversation around to re-connect. After hearing this scenario several times, it was time to dissect this cycle to fully understand it. As a result, I gave the process a name—the pivotal moment.

The pivotal moment is that moment when an adviser takes control of the conversation and the prospect realizes there is merit in what they are hearing.

The most important thing to remember is that the pivotal moment is a process. Is it an exact science? No, instead it is part art and part science.

The Pivotal Statement

The pivotal statement is when the prospect say something that you know could turn into the pivotal moment, because the prospect sees the rationale or logic in your solutions. Here is an example:

Q. How are your returns versus the market?
(Let’s say that your returns were better than the market, but more importantly, the volatility of the market was much greater. The point here is that you want the prospect to understand this, but you need to ask the right questions to guide them in their understanding.)

Q. Are returns an important part of your buying decision?
(This question needs to clarify what the prospect views as important. And answering this question helps the prospect determine the degree of importance.)

A. Yes, it’s why I’m investing, to make money.

Q. So what you are saying is that if my returns have out-performed the market you would be interested in them?
(This is clarification as to why this is so important.)

Q. Is risk an important part of your buying decision? Because you don’t want to try and outpace the market at the risk of losing a lot, do you?
(This question needs to clarify what additional benefits the prospect might view as important, even if they had not previously thought of it.)

A. Yes, I’m not going to take unnecessary risk.
(Answering this question helps the prospect determine the degree of importance.

Q. So what you are saying is that if my investments had a risk that was equal to or less than the market you would be interested in them?
(Again, you are providing clarification as to why this is so important.)

Q. Then you will be glad to know that this investment strategy has outpaced the market in all categories—one year, three year, five year, 10 year and even 20 years. And that in the worst bear market year the market volatility fluctuated 50 percent, meaning that the market lost half its value, but this investment strategy was down 2 percent. So, knowing that this has better upside historic results with less risk, what do you think is the best course of action?

Sharpen Your Skills

It is important to note that memorizing what to say should not be done. You will have much better results if you simply understand the foundation of the process and know what direction you want to go with your conversations. Sharpening your skills is required if you want to get better at it. One way to do this is to use the pivotal moment exercise—an exercise that maps out each step of the process as mentioned above.

It has been my observation that the main reason why advisers lose their client’s or prospect’s interest is because they are too busy telling them what they should do as opposed to asking the appropriate questions, which leads down a path to helping them comprehend what the solutions are. Once a client/prospect comes to that conclusion, they do not feel like they have been “sold” your recommendations, and that is a pivotal moment!

To request a copy of the pivotal moment exercise, just email me at

Dan FinleyDaniel C. Finley
Advisor Solutions
St. Paul, Minn.

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