“He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; he who does not ask a question remains a fool forever.” – Chinese Proverb

Ask almost any financial advisor if questions are important in the sales process, and you’re guaranteed a resounding “yes.” But if you ask those same professionals if they have a strategy for asking questions, you will rarely get the same response. While there are infinite questions to ask, the way in which you frame your inquiries is just as important. Instead of asking your standard run-of-the-mill questions, help your prospect think through the consequences of action versus inaction. We call these “Impact Questions.”

Impact Questions elicit a prospect’s understanding of the impact of either moving forward with the recommended solution or not moving forward at all. They are a thought-process – not a sales push. They are highly influential for three main reasons. They …

  1. Give you a better understanding of the prospect’s thought process.
  2. Help your prospect by forcing them to think critically.
  3. Make your prospect feel like you truly understand their unique situation.

Impact Questions have to be asked in a sincere and genuine manner. Here are some examples …

  • What's the likely outcome if you keep doing what you're doing now?
  • What do you see as the impact of moving forward?
  • If we don’t develop a financial plan, what’s the potential impact 10 years from now?
  • From your perspective, what would be the benefit of putting together a succession plan now versus 5 years from now?

You don’t want to dive immediately into this type of in-depth conversation – you have to warm up to it. Naturally weave them into your conversation as it progresses. When you master this skill, your prospects are forced to think critically and determine the value of your services for themselves.

What’s your objective after asking an Impact Question? Listen. Then ask another insightful question.

Stephen Boswell and Kevin Nichols are thought-leaders and coaches with The Oechsli Institute, a firm that specializes in research and training for the financial services industry.@StephenBoswell@KevinANicholswww.oechsli.com