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Learn How to Create Lasting Impressions with Prospects
“To be successful, you must be unique, you must be so different that if people want what you have, they must come to you to get it.” – Walt Disney
Telling someone to be memorable can have two distinct meanings. It’s similar to the difference between being famous and being infamous – although, in these days of Tik Tok, even those lines are pretty blurred. But what I want to think about today is the kind of memorable that moves the needle when it comes to making connections with prospective clients.
Take a moment to think about an experience in your life that really stands out – a story that you’ve told repeatedly because it is SO memorable. Why does it stand out?
Chip and Dan Heath wrote a fantastic book, The Power of Moments, that helps to illuminate why specific experiences have an extraordinary impact. The book shares a hypothetical theory that anyone who has vacationed at Disney World can find relatable.
What if, while visiting the park, you were asked, every hour, to rate your experience from one to ten?
Some hours would be solid gold: riding space mountain, watching your children ooh and aah over fireworks, enjoying that Dole Pineapple Whip – these hours would all rate somewhere in between seven and nine.
Then there are the other hours. The 45-minute wait in the hot sun to ride “It’s a Small World.” Traveling all over the park to track down Cinderella for a picture. The crush to board the monorail at the end of the night. These moments score between three and six.
So, average the scores for the day, and you’re somewhere around a six – an ordinary day. However, Chip and Dan posit that if you wait two weeks and ask the same family to rate the overall trip, it will very likely be at least a nine.
Psychologists confirm precisely what this Disney example illustrates. When we assess memorable experiences, it’s not a minute-by-minute inventory of how we are feeling. Most of the details are forgotten. Instead, we focus on a few particular moments, and what we remember most is how we felt. The memories that stick with us fall into a few categories: peaks, valleys, transitions, and milestones.
Now think back to your go-to story. I’d be willing to wager that it absolutely falls into one of the above categories.
According to Psychology Today, “Emotion acts like a highlighter that emphasizes certain aspects of experiences to make them more memorable.”
The question for today is how do we create an experience that is memorable when we meet with prospects?
So, in the immortal words of Walt Disney himself: “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.”
How to Differentiate
When a potential new client is deciding to engage services, it’s unlikely that you are the only advisor they will meet. And even if you are the sole advisor, they won’t necessarily hire you just because they met you. How can you stand out in a way that encourages your prospect to want to engage further?
How many of us try to differentiate our product by highlighting the quality service that we provide?
We may have a different way of saying it, but if the job is well done, this is a pretty standard expectation in the field and a selling point that we all declare. Couple that with the reality that the products and offerings aren’t all that different from one company to the next, with very few exceptions.
To this end, how can you stand out in that all-important first meeting? How do you get to the second or third meeting and hopefully close the deal?
This is the heart of what we are talking about today. How can you be memorable? How can you break the tried-and-true script? How can you innovate and change the prospect experience? By going into your first meeting differently, can you think in a new way, with an open and inquisitive mind?
Break the Script to Defy Expectations
Now is the perfect time to think about tossing out the old sales script, deck, and other collateral and invest in something new. In the last two years, much has already changed, providing this perfect time and opportunity for experimentation.
How can your first meeting leave your client with a positive memory, one that leaves them curious enough to engage further? To recap, it comes down to two things:
How do you make your potential client feel?
How do they view the experience that they had with you in comparison to others they’ve met? Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter if you think this is a fair comparison or not.
I have several suggestions when it comes to building that new script. This isn’t a checklist. All these items aren’t necessary; however, they do connect well and support each other. By putting a few of these suggestions into play, you can take excellent steps towards creating memorable, favorable experiences and hopefully developing a new relationship with prospects.
How to Be Memorable
- Tell great stories
- Be confident. Not arrogant
- Learn to embrace uncomfortable silence
- Constantly be innovating and curious
How to be entertaining
No one is asking you to learn how to do card tricks or take on stand-up comedy as a hobby. Likewise, no one is suggesting that you go full “Shark Tank” with costumes and leave-behinds. But there are plenty of other ways to be entertaining and engaging during a first meeting.
- Energy and enthusiasm – like most things in life, it’s crucial that this is authentic because faking enthusiasm exhausts a lot of energy and will be seen for what it is.
- Present yourself as relaxed and easy-going, comfortable in your own skin. Reward people with laughter, use open and friendly body language, and be generous with compliments.
- Listen – great salespeople are great listeners, and this goes for people who are entertaining, as well. When you spend more time listening, you learn more about people, allowing you to better engage. Keep eye contact, don’t be scanning the room, or even worse, your brain for the next thing you want to say. Pausing and thinking are appropriate; however, looking like you are searching for answers is not.
- Open Up – tell a funny, appropriate story about yourself, your job, your pet. Don’t share deeply personal stories. Instead, choose ones that are both funny and relatable. Making yourself the target of a story shows your human side and that you aren’t attacking others while being willing to poke fun at yourself. In turn, this encourages others to open up to you.
- Know a little about a lot – keep up to date with news, current events, movies/tv/music, and social media. When you have vast knowledge, it’s a lot easier to connect with many different people. On the flip side, you know the old saying – steer clear of politics and religion.
- Use the wisdom of others – it is so much easier and authentic to discuss yourself through the wisdom of others, like writers and entertainers. For example, when reading a book like The Power of Moments, you can quickly see yourself and your experiences reflected in the authors’ commentary.
Learn How to Be a Great Storyteller
I don’t expect you to crack open your laptop and crank out the next great American novel. However, being a good storyteller with a mental knapsack of interesting, funny, engaging, and memorable stories will serve you well. Good storytelling should be compelling, entertaining, and memorable, and it should connect with emotion.
Studies have shown that stories are up to 22 times more memorable than statistics. It’s been said that stories are the first viral tool. The generations before us were excellent storytellers because of what they had available – mainly books and radio. How many times have you heard a great story and thought, “oh man, I can’t wait to tell my friend THIS one!”?
The great thing about this skill is that there is a surprising amount of research and instruction on the topic. For example, there are nearly a dozen classes available on Master Class that delve into the subject. A quick google search of “How to be a better storyteller?” returns more than 25 million results with links to every popular magazine and journal, Ted Talks, and podcasts.
Here are a few well agreed upon tips for storytelling:
- Practice telling your story. I know many people feel awkward doing this and therefore avoid it. Give it a try. You’ll be surprised at how much it helps!
- Know what your message is. Is there a moral to the story? Maybe it’s a specific feeling you are trying to convey? Perhaps you are highlighting a pain point that’s been uniquely solved.
- Details bring the story to life, but not every detail about the story is necessary – learning the difference makes for a better story.
- Once again, remember that personal experiences make for great stories.
Along with a few essential don’ts:
- Storytelling is not an opportunity to make yourself the hero.
- Poke fun at yourself, but no one else.
“That’s what we storytellers do. We restore order with imagination. We instill hope again and again and again.” – Walt Disney
Confidence and Arrogance are Both Memorable
Which would you like to be remembered for? Which do you think makes you more likely to achieve a second meeting with your prospect?
Confidence comes from knowing and believing in your company and product. What we do is what we believe. Arrogance comes from believing that you know better than your client what their needs are. What we say but don’t do ourselves is the arrogance of what we think others should be doing.
Confident people listen. Arrogant people talk and frequently about themselves—a lot.
Confident people are spontaneous and open to new experiences. Arrogant people are set in their belief that there is nothing more to learn.
My guess is people who trend more towards arrogance may have already checked out of this article because they aren’t willing to be open-minded and try new things and learn and grow.
Perhaps one of the best characteristics about confident people is that they inspire confidence in others, and if you are looking to engage a new client, what could be better than winning their trust?
Silence is Golden
It’s generally accepted in the US that “the squeaky wheel gets the grease,” while in Japan, a common saying conveys the opposite, “a silent man is the best one to listen to.”
Finding the confidence to remain the listener is hard. Perhaps, of all suggestions today, this may be the most difficult to learn, but learning to get comfortable with silence can provide so many benefits. Silence, particularly after a presentation or sales pitch, includes reflection time and an opportunity to settle.
Conversation is like tossing a ball, and we never want to be left holding the ball for too long. However, when you pause before responding, it shows that you are genuinely listening. Silence in a conversation builds trust because it shows that you care about listening and understanding. And, not surprisingly, we tend to like people more when they talk less than we do.
Another great approach to remaining silent and listening is by building up a bank of questions or comments that help make this happen.
Three Questions to Help you Grow Comfortable in Silence
“Please tell me more.”
Lastly, silence helps with my previous suggestion – it builds self-confidence.
Always be Innovating
Advisor innovation comes in many forms, and it isn’t necessarily about developing new platforms or things that are a massive change. Subtle and obvious can be surprisingly impactful.
The simple idea of throwing out your old script and trying something new is innovative. Thinking big is essential – it also helps us land the small and mid-range changes.
Every example of progress in our industry, and frankly, every other sector, comes from someone getting out of their way and having the freedom to think differently. Consider how you’ve adapted your approach over the last 25 years. The internet has made a big difference in the volume of information your prospects and clients can access. We witnessed a few bold leaders go out in front and find great success with new approaches to client meetings, while many advisors were forced to change and react.
Success is inextricably linked with innovation. So be sure to make thinking about innovation, fostering a culture that celebrates and values innovation, and daring to take the steps that can be scary a part of your regular workplace philosophy.
Be Memorable in 2022
Disney had vision and built the basis for a world-class entertainment experience that works as an amusement park and resort, major movie studios and streaming platforms, a veritable cultural phenomenon, and an example of very successful business practices. All built on people creating great memories.
As planning for 2022 is underway, take some time to consider how next year is going to be different. How can you create a different experience for your business, and even more important, how will you make a distinctive, memorable connection with your clients?
I’ll leave you with just one more piece of advice from Walt – “We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious, and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”