I’ve noticed a common challenge over the years that I have coached advisers that they typically are unaware of. It seems that rookies and veterans alike tend to want to rush the conversation by either making too many statements or asking too many questions without enough of a pause in between for the client/prospect to feel connected. I call this realizing the importance of the Filler Formula.
Picture a brick wall. Your questions and statements are the bricks and the filler is the mortar.
If you just make statements, you are probably in monologue mode and not having much of a two-way dialogue. If you just ask questions, it may seem to a client/prospect more like an interview or interrogation. In either case this can result in a disconnect between you and them which makes closing the loop and getting a sale all the more difficult.
The Filler Formula helps you to utilize a number of different strategies seamlessly to make a strong connection during your conversation.
The following are just a few examples:
Strategy No. 1: The Connection Story
A good story can quickly connect you to someone if properly inserted into a conversation. When a client/prospect answers your question or makes a statement that you can relate to because you’ve experienced the same thing, simply pause and say, “I completely understand and it reminds me of a client I had years ago that went through the exact same thing,” and then share that story. You will be establishing credibility as well as a connection at the same time.
Strategy No. 2: The Sound Bite
A good sound bite can also be a powerful way to help a client/prospect come to a realization that you would like them to understand. When they answer your question or make a statement indicating to you that they need to more fully understand something, simply use a sound bite to help them make that conclusion themselves.
For example: “I lost a lot of money in 2008 and I don’t want to do that again.” You want them understand that they need to prevent future losses so you might say, “Einstein said it best, that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. What do you think will happen to your money the next time the market pulls back?”
They reply, “I will lose money.” You can connect with them by agreeing and presenting a solution, “That’s exactly why we need to do something different by having stop losses. It’s what I do for my clients so we don’t lose money when the market pulls back.”
Strategy #3: Empathetic Listening
A good rebuttal that reflects what you heard could instantly open up the conversation and help you make a connection. In Steven Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, he explains four levels of empathetic listening. Let’s use the aforementioned prospect’s statement, “I lost a lot of money in 2008 and I don’t want to do that again,” to illustrate various ways you could respond.
The first way is to mimic such as, “You lost money in 2008 and you don’t want to do that again.” I do not recommend this method, as it can come across as insulting.
The second way is to rephrase, “It’s never good to lose money, right?”
The third way is to state the feeling you think the prospect has about the subject, “It sounds like you might be concerned, are you?”
The fourth is to state the feeling you think they have and also rephrase what you hear, “It sounds like you are concerned because it’s never a never good to lose money.” If you do Level 3 or 4, you can typically get them to instantly open up which creates a great connection.
Why The Filler Formula Works
Obviously, there are additional Filler Formula strategies but unfortunately I don’t have room here to illustrate them all. However, it is more important to understand why the Filler Formula works in general rather than to know how to use multiple examples. It works because it allows the individual to take a breather from your questions and statements that require them to reply and instead hear a story from you while coming to a conclusion on their own.
At the very least they know that they have been heard, which helps them to open up even further and allows them to feel connected. Remember, people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. So, it’s your job to make them feel that way.
If you read this blog and need help using the Filler Formula, email Melissa Denham, director of client servicing at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a free 30-minute coaching session with Dan Finley.
Daniel C. Finley
St. Paul, Minn.