Telling stories to win clients

Sharing with potential clients stories about yourself, your values and how you’ve helped other clients can help you gain their business.

“Stories allow you to engage clients and establish a connection,” says Joanne Ferguson, president of Advisor Pathways Inc. in Toronto. “They are a powerful way to build relationships.”

But the stories you tell must be real and believable, she says. For example, when you tell a story of how you’ve helped a client, your prospective client must be able to relate to that situation.

Because clients’ circumstances vary, you will need to have an assortment of relevant stories to tell. You must also have your own story — about what has shaped your values and beliefs. Personal stories can help you to establish trust with your clients, making them more comfortable in working with you.

If your story is a powerful one, you can also get others, such as centers of influence, to tell it for you, Ferguson says. The more people you can get to tell your story, the more credible it will be with potential clients, she says.

Here are some ways to use stories to win clients:

> Start with your own story
Every advisor should have at least a few different stories to tell. Start out by developing your own story.

Ask yourself: Who or what has influenced my beliefs and values? What made me decide to become a financial advisor? What am I most passionate about?

Then, based on the answers to those questions, build a credible, honest and sincere narrative that you are comfortable telling repeatedly. Remember: you are trying to influence the client sitting across the table, who must be able to relate to your story and see value in working with you.

Once you have your own story, think of a few stories about clients you’ve helped by solving their issues and helping them reach their goals. These should be real cases, Ferguson says, which show how you have helped others in specific situations that other clients can relate to.

This exercise can help you gain the attention of clients who will begin to visualize you helping them.

> Tell insightful stories
When clients come to you, they are looking for solutions. Your stories should therefore provide insight into what they should expect from you and how you work with your clients. Your stories should demonstrate that you are passionate about helping them in a sincere manner.

Avoid overwhelming your potential clients with stories about products and returns. Instead, educate them about how you put the pieces of a client’s plan together to ensure they achieved their goals. Emphasize your process.

“Make stories personal,” Ferguson says. “They will resonate with clients.”

> Listen first
Listen to the client’s story first and make sure you fully understand it before telling a story that fits their situation, Ferguson says. Never assume that you know what a client wants to hear. And you must be prepared to answer questions from clients once they hear the stories you tell.

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