There's a secret tool that many successful financial services professionals use with every step of their sales process.
Although, even with it's success, it has gotten a bad reputation and you may be tempted NOT to use it.
What's the tool? An agenda.
Okay, we know what you're thinking. An agenda? They're too confining, inflexible, difficult to prepare, and they stop the natural flow of a conversation. Let's challenge that mindset to see agendas as an essential tool in getting a better result from meetings.
Agendas only work as well as they are designed, and if designed and used well, they allow flexibility. You read that correctly, agendas allow flexibility. Flexibility that gives the prospect an invitation to add their own topics to the agenda - a way to express what is important to them and what they want to discuss. Prospects tend to allow the financial services professional to run the meeting and think it is all about what the professional wants to say, and probably sell, to them.
Agendas change this dynamic. You not only want to have set topics to cover on the agenda; but also, have blank spaces or a question mark as a placeholder for prospects to add topics. With a visual and physical place for them to add topics, along with your verbal invitation to do so, they are more likely to tell you what is on their mind. The result is a more successful conversation!
Another advantage to having an agenda is that it puts the prospect at ease by knowing what will be discussed during the meeting. Prospects don't want to be sold, and they don't like having someone come in and "trick" them or take control over their situation without knowing how that will be done. With an agenda, they know exactly what will be covered which eases their mind. When a prospect knows what will happen in the next 60 minutes they are more open and ready to have a collaborative conversation.
Insight: Have a copy of the agenda for the prospect's use, to take notes or refer back to during the meeting.
Agendas also help keep the meeting on track. By referring back to the agenda during the meeting you know when to wrap up a topic and move on to the next. Therefore, it keeps you and the prospect from getting sidetracked on the weather or an exciting game from the night before. And, when you stick to the agenda and stay on time, you are gaining credibility with the prospect as a professional who keeps to your word.
How specific and complicated should an agenda be in order to be successful? Not at all. In fact, the simpler the agenda the better. A few bulleted words will guide your conversation. Not only does this allow for a more open and natural conversation, it also makes it easy to be prepared because the topics are general. This allows the agenda to be used as a template. Don't forget to add a blank bullet or a question mark for the prospect to add topics.
Insight: Add the prospect's name and date to the top. This will add a level of professionalism and will also show the prospect you went through the extra effort to customize the agenda for them.
When you use an agenda you will have better engagement with your prospect, the flexibility to make additions as necessary, and a tool which establishes your credibility and allows you to stay on track. All this ensures you get the result you want through every step of the sale.