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What You'll Learn In Today's Episode:

  • How to prep your team for surge.
  • Why surge often lasts longer for your team than for you and how to navigate that.
  • Common issues that come up during prospect meetings.
  • How to actually define massive value in a prospect meeting.
  • Mistakes almost all advisors make.
  • How to better find out what mistakes you’re making.
  • How to use taxes in the prospecting process.
  • How to set up the next steps and set the stage for success.

Having issues in prospect meetings? It’s incredibly avoidable. In this episode, Matthew and Micah discuss the prospecting process and how to help it go more smoothly for your prospects and for your team. They share how they get their teams prepped for surge, as well as what it takes to move through it and transition out of it smoothly.

Listen in to hear why it’s so important to record prospect meetings and the keys to creating consistent successful prospect meetings. The guys also emphasize why you have to create and stick to your success formula—especially at the busiest times. You’ll learn ways you can better position yourself as an expert and deliver massive value that prospects can’t deny.

Podcast Article:

Stop Hiding Your Value From Your Prospects

Are you wasting time competing against big-name competitors, or are you playing your own game?

Most financial advisors understand the importance of a solid first impression, but the real value you provide goes beyond your carefully crafted talking points. If your prospect funnel isn’t converting the way you’d like, you may not actually be demonstrating how you add value to your clients. In this article, you’ll learn to avoid common prospect process pitfalls and take advantage of hidden opportunities to deliver more value than ever before.

Action Items in This Article

  • Start recording your prospect meetings, and review them later to discover where you need to improve. It may be uncomfortable, but nothing will have a greater impact on your success.
  • Pick one or two things to work on in every prospect meeting, whether that’s body language, setting expectations, or measuring which of a couple is the most engaged with their finances.
  • Register for The Perfect RIA’s power webinar session in May and double the effectiveness of your prospect meetings.

Don’t Just Recap Client Goals—Help Frame the Big Picture

Imagine going to the doctor with a pain in your side. If all the doctor did was agree that you have a pain in your side before sending you on your way, you would be upset. You already knew you were in pain—that’s why you came in! You were aware of the problem. What you want is a solution.

The same is true for financial management. Clients don’t come to you because they want to go over their goals and dreams for an hour. They come to you for insight into their financial situation plus actionable advice on how to best meet their goals. Simple, right? Unfortunately, this is where many advisors go wrong.

If your prospect meetings are going nowhere, it’s time to get intentional about adding value. Yes, it’s important to understand what a client hopes to achieve. But after touching on their goals, look for additional opportunities to maximize the potential of your prospect meetings.

Here’s an example of a more meaningful conversation that takes a prospect through exactly what they can expect from your services while adding real value to their lives:

Advisor: You want to retire at 62? Cool. How are you going to maximize your social security benefits?

Prospect: I’m not sure. I haven’t thought about it.

Advisor: No problem—we’ll plan for that. How are you going to make sure you don’t get killed in taxes?

Prospect: I haven’t really thought about that either.

Advisor: And what are you going to do if, say, Russia invades Ukraine, and the market takes a sudden turn the day you plan to retire?

Prospect: Oh, gosh. I definitely haven’t thought about that…

Making clients aware of problems they didn’t know they had isn’t a scare tactic; it’s an important reality check. A pleasant conversation about a client’s retirement goals doesn’t add value. A conversation like the one above does—whether or not the client ends up working with you at all.

Don’t Let Prospects Set Their Own Expectations

Most of your potential clients have never worked with a real financial planner before. This means with every prospect meeting, you have a golden opportunity to set the tone for the relationship ahead. Your guidance throughout these meetings is essential in making prospects feel comfortable with the entire process. But if you don’t set expectations yourself, you leave your entire future relationship up to their imagination.

Another big mistake advisors make is failing to communicate a clear agenda to the prospect ahead of their first meeting with you. Before they arrive in your office, prospects should know exactly what you will and won’t expect of them during the meeting. If this isn’t the day they’ll be signing paperwork, they should know that going in so they can relax, let down their guard, and focus on the value you can provide.

Then, at the end of your meetings, don’t just tell prospects to go away and think about it and let you know; give them a clear understanding of what happens if they hire you and what happens if they don’t. Spell everything out for them: “No decisions need to be made today. However, when you go home, you’ll need to decide whether or not you want to hire us, because we’re going to call you on Thursday to see how you’d like to proceed.”

When you set clear expectations, you give yourself the chance to exceed them. When you don’t, clients will set their own, and you’ll always miss the mark.

Don’t Forget What You’re Worth

Too many advisors are terrified of the big question: “Why should I pay you all this money when the big companies can do all this stuff for free?” But a client would be foolish not to compare their options, and an advisor would be foolish not to expect their prospects to ask. By preparing a response to every conceivable question—especially the uncomfortable ones—you can approach any prospect meeting with confidence that your fees are appropriate for the value you provide.

Remember, you’re the first financial planner most of your prospects have ever spoken to. Their question is sincere; they want to understand why you’re worth a higher fee than your lower-cost competition. But if funds and expense ratios are all you’re talking about during your prospect meetings, you’re not demonstrating a value that justifies your fees. To win, you have to show how you’re changing the game.

Expanding your conversation to include estate planning, risk management, retirement income, investments, and tax planning is a powerful way to show potential clients that your value goes beyond financial advice. By defining your own rules, you’ll turn skeptical strangers into eager customers and leave your competition far behind.


Resources In Today's Episode:

Read the Transcript Below:

This is The Perfect RIA, in case you didn’t know. Bringing you all the strategies to help your business grow. Are you happy? Are you satisfied? Are you hanging on the edge of your seat? Sit back and listen in while you feel the beat. Another myth bites the dust…

Micah Shilanski:  Welcome back to another amazing episode of the Perfect RA Podcast. I’m your co-founder, Micah Shilanski, and with me as usual, the amazing Matthew Jarvis. Jarvis, what’s going on, bud.

Matthew Jarvis:   Micah, there was a big pause there like you were getting ready to use another A word. Not amazing, but I’m going to go with amazing.

Micah Shilanski:  Extra amazing. I was going to go back with the legendary, but I was, I’m going to mix it up a little bit today so that’s what I get for not reading my script.

Matthew Jarvis:   I love that. Well, of course, Micah, as those of you watching the recordings, now the podcast can be seen on video. You’ll see that Micah is in his office, he’s in the middle of surge. You’re on week two of surge now?

Micah Shilanski:  Well, the time we record this, surge actually starts tomorrow. We just wrapped up our team retreat. We do a team retreat before our spring surge, which is great. Then we have a buffer day, which is today, so it’s Monday, everybody’s in the office, they’re getting ready for it, et cetera. We used to start surge immediately the Monday before we wrap up a team retreat on Saturday, start a surge on Monday, not a great plan. Now we put a buffer day in between, which works out really well. The whole team comes back in. We had a great bonding experience, team comes back in, we make sure everything is ready to go. And then on Tuesday starts my six weeks of surge, which I’m pretty excited about.

Matthew Jarvis:   I love that. Today in the episode, we want to talk about the prospect in and general, because it leads up to the webinar that we’re doing, the power session we’re doing in May. But Micah, it’s important for everybody to remember when you go into surge, it is a lot of work and it’s a lot of work for you and it’s a lot of work for your team and you need to have those times. You guys just did a full retreat, but there needs to be at least some kind of, how are we preparing for surge? And then after search, how are we debriefing? How are we recording that? Starting surge the day after a retreat is such a good idea.

One thing that we found, Micah, in my office, our surge debrief meeting is best if it’s done during the last week of surge when the pain is still really present, not three weeks later, when we say no, no, no, let’s do surge on Saturdays and Sundays as well.

Micah Shilanski:  No, I think that’s such a great thing. We normally do ours, we might set up a little bit based on your recommendation, but we normally do ours right when the advisor surge ends. Now, I say the advisor surge, because one of the things my ops team was very quick to tell me is that, “Hey, just because your surge ends, doesn’t mean my surge has, because we created a lot of work.” For the next 10 days, two weeks, the ops team has a lot of stuff going on.

Matthew Jarvis:   Well, this is especially true if you’re doing a value add during the client meeting that leads to paperwork. For example, if you’re doing the beneficiary review value add-

Micah Shilanski:  Ooh.

Matthew Jarvis:   … that’s going to take a lot of paperwork. If you’re updating all of your 8821s to get tax transcripts from the IRS, that’s going to take a lot of time. You’ve got to be prepared for that.

Micah Shilanski:  Yeah, absolutely. So many important things go into surge. Now, surge has been catching like wildfire. We keep saying this, because we’re so happy about that, but Jarvis, some other things that come up just besides surge meetings, several advisors taking advantage of the opportunity to send us some of their recordings of them going through a client or a prospect meeting, and we’re able watch those and review those.

Now it’s super funny because when I’m watching these and either it comes up with tips from the trench, or we bring something up on the podcast, I’ll get a text, I’ll get a message from an advisor that says, “Hey, were you talking about me?” It’s like, all right, well, two things, if you think I was talking about you, then it affects you and probably, yes. But the reality is no, because there was 100 other people that are doing the exact same thing. If you think we’re talking to you, then we are, and this is something that you need to fix and you need to work on. And the reason we know this is experience. We have been there and done this.

In fact, I was watching one, Jarvis, I was sharing with you, as we were pre-gaming this thing, is when I was looking at this other advisors prospect process, I was, oh my gosh, I had flashbacks to when I didn’t know how to produce value in that initial meeting and it was almost the same things that I was doing. I was relying on my good looks and my sense of charm, and you can guess how that worked out, for people to hire me. Because I didn’t have a formula for success.

Matthew Jarvis:   Boy, that’s so true, Micah. And so if you think we’re talking to you, we for sure are, if you think we’re talking about you, probably not. Micah, I was going through one advisors meeting that he had recorded, and we’ll talk about the importance of recording your prospect meetings in a minute, but again, I saw those same mistakes I had made. He was trying to use his computer in real time. And sure enough, the website wouldn’t load, his password had to be reset, he needed a two-factor authentication, the client’s name was… They had that little red squiggly, spelled wrong, under it. There’s all these mistakes that we make.

Micah Shilanski:  Nice.

Matthew Jarvis:   And then we think, oh, these prospects just didn’t get it, these prospects are do-it-yourselfers, these prospects are fee sensitive, that’s why they said no. But at the end of the day, you weren’t delivering massive value, which we’ll talk about, and you weren’t positioning yourself as an expert. You were coming in as a rookie, you were coming in as a somebody who wasn’t prepared, as somebody who didn’t understand a client. And Micah, I think a lot of times advisors, ourselves included early in our careers-

Micah Shilanski:  Sure.

Matthew Jarvis:   … hovered up this lack of value by smoke and mirrors, if you will.

Micah Shilanski:  Yeah, absolutely. Let’s dive into this so we don’t have too many smoke and mirrors going on with you guys today. One, you made this comment about massive value. First, what the heck is massive value? Because we’re using this aloof smoke and mirrors term that’s out there, but how do we actually define it? I’m going to go out on a limb and define what I think value is in a client meeting, and then, Jarvis, you feel free to push back on me if I’m missing something here.

Value in a prospect meeting is giving them or showing them how by making changes to where they’re at, they will make massive improvements towards their goals. If their goal is retirement, because that’s mainly where we work, perfect. Then by doing A, B and C, you will get closer to retirement. Hire me or don’t hire me, you got to do this, A, B and C in order to get this done. Now, if you’re not talking in that direct path, finding out what their goals are, and if you spend a whole two hours finding out what their goals are, you’ve missed this, but if you got to quickly find out what their goals are and quickly assess what needs to happen in their situation and how you add massive value to that by in order to make the easy button, we’re going to take care of these things, we’re going to figure out these things for you, we’re going to make sure this gets done.

Matthew Jarvis:   Micah, I had read along that line once a long time ago, I used to have it on my computer screen, by the way, I always love having little reminders on my computer screen, and it was that the best professionals make clients or patients, whatever, aware of problems they didn’t know they had and then offer them solutions.

Now, let me give you just a quick example. If you go to the doctor and you say, “Doctor, I have this pain in my side,” and the doctor says, “Oh, I see that have a pain in your side.” That’s not helping me, I was aware of that problem and I need a solution to it. If the doctor says, “Oh, I see the pain in your side and it’s caused by this thing that you’re doing and here’s the solution,” that’s value.

And this is, again, where advisors go wrong in these meetings, Micah, they say, “Let me spend an hour talking about your goals.” The client knows their goals. Right now we might say, well, they’re these tertiary goals, yeah, yeah, we’ll get into that. But great, “You want to retire at 62? Cool. How are you going to maximize your social security benefits?” I don’t really know. “How are you going to make sure you don’t get killed in taxes?” I hadn’t really thought about that. “What are you going to do if the market, if Russia invades Ukraine, the day you’re going to retire.” I don’t know, I haven’t thought about that. Now I’m making them aware of problems they didn’t know that they had and then…

Micah Shilanski:  And, Jarvis, quit making up theoretical things, by the way.

Matthew Jarvis:   Theoretical.

Micah Shilanski:  All right.

Matthew Jarvis:   Hypothetically speaking. Then we can start pivoting…

Micah Shilanski:  I love how Russia and Ukraine’s right above your head, by the way, so that’s funny.

Matthew Jarvis:   From right over here-

Micah Shilanski:  Sorry.

Matthew Jarvis:   I’ve been drawing on it, it’s going to map over.

Micah Shilanski:  Those are such the key elements, right? How exactly do you help them show that? And where do you show their pain points? About how are they going to get killed in taxes, because they’ve done zero tax planning. Okay, perfect. They did not come in from the aspect of saying, “Great, how do I reduce my tax in retirement?” Maybe that’s not what they said. Maybe they said they want to be able to retire at 62. Brilliant. But what’s one of the pitfalls along the way? Is taxes and Iris the IRS is part of your retirement plan whether you the like it or not, how do you minimize how much she’s going to get? Now, this becomes a very real pain point.

Matthew Jarvis:   Micah, another big mistake advisors make, and by the way, I would say that all of us make this mistake, but at differing levels, is that you come into that initial prospect meeting or the second prospect meeting, whatever that is, and you don’t have a clear agenda and you haven’t communicated that clear agenda to the prospect. When I meet, and Micah I know you do the same thing, meet with a prospect initially, “Hey, I just want to let you know how this meeting’s going to work. I’ve got several things I want to discuss, but I know you have questions and concerns, we’re going to start there. At the end of this meeting we’re going to both go home and decide do we want to keep working together. Just so you know, I didn’t lock the door on the way in. This isn’t a timeshare presentation, ha ha ha. Anything else you want to add to the agenda?”

I’m coming in, I know what I want to do during this meeting, deliver massive value, make them aware of problems they don’t have, and I want them to be aware of that same thing.

Micah Shilanski:  I’m not looking for a beer drinking friend. I’m not looking to show up in the conversation, sit back on the couch and BS about politics, BS about their life and go through. I am there in a very finite period in time to deliver massive value to their life, and I need structure in order to do that, hence the agenda. Now, if I walk into a meeting with another professional and they don’t have an agenda and it’s a meeting that they’ve wanted to have, says, “Micah, I don’t really have an agenda, I really just want to find out what you have concerns with.” Great, thanks for wasting my frigging time. That’s exactly what goes through my head.

And if you don’t think it goes through your client’s head, it absolutely does. Yes, you have one or two clients where it doesn’t, but the vast majority that’s what it’s saying, is you are not a professional. Because guess what, when they meet with other professionals like a doctor, they have a checklist, they have an agenda, they have a process to go through, so now you are not a professional. By not doing agendas you have clearly told the prospect and the client you are not a professional at what you’re doing, whether that was a conscious decision on your behalf or a subconscious decision, that’s the communication.

Matthew Jarvis:   Oh, it so much is, Micah. And there’s so many little things that add or detract, really everything you’re doing adds or detracts. How are you holding your pen? How are your papers positioned on your desk? Is your body language matching them? Now, Micah, early in my career, that stuff really felt slimy to me. I thought, well-

Micah Shilanski:  Totally.

Matthew Jarvis:   … that’s manipulative, that’s taking advantage of people. But it’s not, it depends on your heart. If your heart, and this sounds a little woo-woo, if you’re going in, hey, I’m really trying to scam this person, then shame on you, don’t use these techniques. If you’re saying, hey, I need to build rapport with this person so that when it comes to make following my advice, when it comes to staying in the market, whatever that is, we’ve got this relationship, then all of these things are on the table. And this is what separates great advisors from the one who blames fee compression or compliance department or anything else. They go in there and their ties not tied straight and they don’t understand which client’s engaged and which one’s not, all of these things matter yet.

Micah Shilanski:  Everything counts, from the way your receptionist greets them to the way your lobby works, to the way your Zoom meeting works, the technology presentation that’s there. A quick pro tip that Jarvis and I will do all the time, if we’re having a Zoom meeting with a client and they can’t get into Zoom for any reason whatsoever, we will pick up the phone, we will call them. They’ll like, “Well, do you want to do FaceTime, do you want to try download this?” “We want to don’t want to waste your time in this, we’ll figure that out later, let’s just stay on the phone so we can make sure we get your questions answered.”

We want to immediately move past technological issues and move into adding value, because the client is already irritated that they can’t get their device to work. And all you’re doing by doing IT support is making them more irritated. And if it takes 15 minutes, you finally get it to work, they don’t think, oh my gosh, Micah is amazing at financial planning, they think, holy crap, why the hell didn’t this work for the last 15 minutes? I want to move past that as fast as I can into an area which I can deliver massive value.

Matthew Jarvis:   And in that process, Micah, whichever of the spouses didn’t really want to be there, that’s reinforcing, “I knew this was going to be a pain, I knew this was going to be a headache.” You’re getting on the phone right away, “You know what, technology is really a pain sometimes let’s just go old fashioned. I’m an old fashioned, I want to do it works. Let’s just talk on the phone.”

Micah Shilanski:  Perfect.

Matthew Jarvis:   And skip right to the chase.

Micah Shilanski:  Oh, you just hit something that I love to say. When I was meeting with Christian, when he was coming to our office, that’s one of the tasks that I gave him to do right away was, “Hey, whenever we’re meeting with a prospect, I want you to find the one that doesn’t want to be there and who is in control of the financial decisions.” All right, pro tip, it’s the woman. She’s in control of the financial decisions and most of the time, she’s not the one that spurred the meeting. Sometimes that’s the case, but let’s find that out because there’s always one who’s more excited than the other. Yes, sometimes you’re going to have it where they’re both super excited about it, but those aside, you need to be as the adviser, you need to understand what that power dynamic is in that relationship. Who’s excited about the meeting and who’s not, and why aren’t they excited about it?

Now, Jarvis, the way I’m using this is not to get them to go, yes, but is to say, hey, are they productive? Personal, productive, profitable, those are my three Ps. The second one is productive. Are they coachable, will they follow my advice, can I add value to their situation? This is what I’m filtering for in this first meeting that we have. And if I can’t get that second person to engage, they are not productive, they are not coachable. Why am I going to engage in a long-term relationship if they’re not going to follow my advice?

Matthew Jarvis:   That’s great, Micah. I want to take a step back here, and a little disclaimer, there is always this temptation when we’re listening to successful people that say, I don’t agree with that. And in this case you could say, I don’t agree with you, Micah, I don’t agree that it’s typically the woman who’s not engaged and the man drug her in. I don’t agree with that, you’re wrong. And you’re welcome to have that opinion. What I would encourage you to do, and I have to encourage myself to do, is step back and say, if I disagree with a successful person’s process, is my process working better? If you’re closing every prospect and that has never been your experience, perfect.

Micah Shilanski:  Great.

Matthew Jarvis:   Great that you’re meeting with different prospects. However, if your practice sucks and you’re not able to take on clients because you’re not delivering value, I think you need to step back, check your ego and say, am I so hung up on being right that I’m not willing to do what works? Micah, this came up, you and I were in a small coaching session with a legendary communicator. A legendary communicator that’s been documented all around the world, and there was a couple people in the group that just got really hung up and they were, “Well, this guy’s sexist and he’s a real jerk,” and they just started… And they lost all the value. And by the way, they had terrible practices and they weren’t making any money. And if you say, “Well, I don’t care about making money,” they weren’t delivering value to clients so they were so hung up… Here I’m ranting, I really apologize. They’re so hung up on being right that they didn’t step back and say, what actually works in the real world?

Micah Shilanski:  And if we want to learn, that’s what we have to do. And I have to check myself when I’m going into a different circumstance as well, says, all right, great. I may not agree with this, but how are they communicating it to go through? And there’s sometimes in this coaching call, I didn’t agree with his end product, nothing bad. I just had a slight different religion and how I would say, and I would put this stuff together, but his ability to communicate something with a client was brilliant. And I have to say yeah, I’ve been doing this for 20 years and his idea was better, and I got to be able to take that and adapt that to my team because there was some wonderful stuff that came out of that.

Speaker 5:          The Perfect RA challenges financial advisor to answer the question, what would you do if you weren’t afraid? Surround yourself with the financial advisors who share your common values and goals towards success. The advisor is you, the time is now. Don’t be like most people who fail to take action and achieve their dreams. Go online today at and decide. Decide what type of financial advisor you plan to be.

Micah Shilanski:  Okay. We’ll step down from the soapbox for just a second. We’ll get back on it, don’t worry. Let’s get on another soapbox, how about that one? All right. Another one that I sometimes hear with financial planners is saying, “Well, Micah, the reason I can’t do it the way you do it, the reason I can’t do an agenda, the way you do is it’s not scalable, because I like to have customizable plans.”

Matthew Jarvis:   Oh.

Micah Shilanski:  “I want everything to be customizable, and if it’s scalable, then it’s not customizable to the individual client.” And this hit me in like a two by four in the head, I really had to step back and be, “What in the hell are you talking about?” But it took me a second to really understand that they felt that the time they were spending recreating something equaled value.

Matthew Jarvis:   This is where we need to step back and look at our head trash in our programming. Assuming you went to any traditional schooling, public schools, whatever the case, you were taught, ingrained in your head, that it didn’t matter how fast or slow you went you had to be there from bell-to-bell. If you worked at any corporate job, no matter how fast or slow, you had work bell-to-bell. And so that’s really ingrained in our psyche, Micah, that time equals value, and that’s really the opposite. Now, Micah, a question for you. You and I both, early in our careers, our prospect meetings were total failures and we didn’t know why they were failures. We’ve talked about this, and we’re friends, and we’ve talked about this about to get done with a prospect meeting… I had a prospect say, “Matthew, I really like you and I would love to hire, I just can’t figure out what you would do for me.” And he wasn’t being rude and I couldn’t articulate it either.

Micah Shilanski:  It’s a fair question. It’s a fair question for a prospect to ask an advisor, what are you going to do for me? That’s totally fair.

Matthew Jarvis:   By the way, it’s the question they’re asking the whole time. How do advisors that are struggling in their prospect process, that are listening to this and are saying, “I would love to do surge meetings, if I had that many clients.” How do they find those mistakes that they’re making? It’s easy for us to say deliver more value, it’s easy to say, make them aware of problems. How do they go through a prospect meeting and say, “That’s where I slipped up.”

Micah Shilanski:  Well, number one, you have to do something different. If you keep doing the same thing, you will not get a different result. We got to keep that in mind.What we’re going to talk about is doing something different. First thing I would say, Jarvis, hands down, record every single meeting you have and watch it back. This is painful. I hate doing it today to myself. This is not fun for me to watch my own videos on YouTube or anything else, because I can see every mistake that I’m making, but it’s valuable and so important to do. Number one, record it and watch it.

Number two, when you have a couple of what you thought was a good thing, you’re not really seeing your mistakes, where’s that network of advisors that you can reach out to that says, “Hey, I need a favor, I need someone to watch this video and to go through it.” Now, if you send it to another crappy advisor that doesn’t have a successful practice yet, then maybe that’s not the best way. You need to find someone who’s practiced that you’re idolizing, that you’re modeling, you’re going after and need to find a way for somebody else along that path to say, great, how do they review this video, and how do I up my game?

Matthew Jarvis:   Yeah. And specifically for our Invictus members, you can of course send that in to the Invictus email and we’ll look at those ourselves and give you some feedback on that. Micah, the other thing I would recommend, and I did this all the time, 10 to 15 minutes before the prospect was scheduled to come in, I would turn off my computer, I would turn off everything, my phone-

Micah Shilanski:  Perfect.

Matthew Jarvis:   … and I would visualize how the meeting would go.

Micah Shilanski:  Yes.

Matthew Jarvis:   And I would say, great, what am I going to say, what am I afraid they’re going to say? I’m afraid they’re going to say, hey, I can go to Vanguard for free and get this. Okay, cool. How am I going to help them understand the value? Not, how am I going to trick them? Not, how am I going to sell them? How am I going to help them understand the value of what I’m providing? So that when I got in that meeting, Micah, and they said, “Hey, listen, I think your fees are too high,” I knew what to say.

Micah Shilanski:  I love it. Another thing that I would focus on is if they’re thinking about Vanguard, that they could get this for free, you’re talking about the wrong things. All you’re talking about is investments, because that’s all Vanguard can do. All Vanguard can do is offer investments. Yes, they have Dial-a-CFB, 1800 Clues. I’m sorry, I don’t really know what their phone number is, but whatever their phone number is and you call, they’re not getting full financial planning advice, at least I have never seen it. If all you’re doing is talking about funds and expense ratios and how they can rebalance, you’re not delivering massive value and Vanguard’s going to be a problem for you.

However, if you position this and say, great, I’m going to go to estate planning, risk management, retirement income, investments and tax planning. Okay. Let me see a dial a CFP that can do that. Because those programs aren’t out there, I’ve completely changed the game, I’m not going to play Vanguard’s game. Why? Because I want to win and they do a really good job at their game. I’m not going to play their game, I’m going to play the value game with financial planning because I know I can crush that game.

Matthew Jarvis:   Boy, Micah, I want to go down a little bit deeper on that one. What you essentially got there is an ace up your sleeve. You’re saying, what your plan is, if this issue comes up, or really when. A client would be foolish to not ask, “Hey, wait a second, how do these things compare? You have this ace up your sleeve, which is, “Hey, simply spoken, when you talk to Vanguard or whomever, by the way, what did they say when they reviewed your tax return?” “They didn’t even look at my tax return.” Cool. “Then in retirement, who’s going to make sure you’re not overpaying the IRS?”

Now, by the way, this isn’t just a throwing of the line, you need to know, you need to be asking for their tax returns, you need to be knowing how to deliver value. If you don’t, I think it’s next week when this airs, retirement tax services, Micah, you’re going to be on this power session, they’re going to be going deep into, how are you using taxes in the prospect process, how are you using taxes in the client process?

But now I’ve got a tool, whereas I was previously desperately hoping the client wouldn’t bring up Vanguard. Now, Micah, and I know you’re the same way, I’m waiting for it. I’m hoping, I’m come on, give me that slow left hook and I’ll be ready to duck it and take it down. I was terrified of it before.

Micah Shilanski:  Because we’re not scared of those questions anymore, we pivot it to a game that we can play. And this isn’t a smoke and mirrors thing, this is true value to client. Okay, equity funds, index funds are index funds across the board. Yes, there’s some difference but I don’t care about the letterhead, they’re virtually all the same. Where can we add more value to clients? It’s not selecting an index fund, it is really focusing again on tax planning, focusing on estate planning. So many advisors out there don’t do estate planning. They say estate planning is, go get a well healthcare directive and talk to an attorney.

That’s a crappy estate plan because estate planning attorneys don’t know… And if you don’t know this, go to my episode with Rod Zeeb on the podcast, he’s a very famous estate planning attorney. He says the same thing, estate planning attorneys, all they want to do is fill out forms. They don’t want to do planning, they want to check boxes, have mail merge work and print off all the documents. How many times as advisors have we seen estate planning documents that did not recognize what the actual client’s goals were and were completely wrong? True estate planning, sorry I’m on my soapbox again…

Matthew Jarvis:   Cool.

Micah Shilanski:  True estate planning is going to find that, if you’re passionate about this, wanting to add value, estate planning is a slam dunk way you can jump in there, add tremendous value to clients.

Matthew Jarvis:   Micah, another thing, a mistake area that advisors need to watch for is if you’re trying to hold back, if you’re thinking-

Micah Shilanski:  Oh, yes.

Matthew Jarvis:   … you know what, I will talk about that later. No. This is a dichotomy, if you will, because if you give away the whole farm, why will they hire you? But at the same point, if you’re not making them aware of things that you know that they don’t, that’s going to be a problem. If you’re not making them aware that they need to have a strategy for claiming social security, or for their estate plan, or whatever that may be. I need to be playing full out. A way to watch this, as yourself as you’re in a meeting, is keep a little tally on your note page, how many times did you ask a question and their response was, “Oh, I had never thought of that?” That’s what I’d want to be tracking. If you get to the end of the meeting and all you’ve asked them is, “How much do you spend on cable TV each month?” “Well, $12, I don’t know.” How much do you get this?” “I don’t know.” But when they say, “Oh, I never thought of that,” now you’re delivering value. You’re making them aware of something-

Micah Shilanski:  Yes.

Matthew Jarvis:   … they didn’t know before they walked in the door.

Micah Shilanski:  And you’re not creating false pain points to sell insurance.

Matthew Jarvis:   No, no, no.

Micah Shilanski:  You’re talking about real issues that are going to pack them in retirement. And here’s a very easy way. Do you think taxes are going to affect them in retirement? Yes or no. If you answered no. Get off our podcast-

Matthew Jarvis:   That’s really good—

Micah Shilanski:  … because taxes are…

Matthew Jarvis:   Yeah, you’re in the wrong spot. Yes, taxes are going to affect them. By not talking about it, you are massively depriving them of value in that conversation. Jarvis, I love that little tally. Giving too much away. One of the things that when I was brought up was talked about, was showing them the cake and not giving them the recipe. That’s another great way to look at it, of saying, “Okay, great. Here’s the outline of things that you need to be doing.” One of the things I often tell my prospect is say, “Look, hire me or not, you need to have a strategy for maximizing your social security. Hire me or not, we need to think about increasing your tax free income in retirement. Hire me or not, you have to get this estate planning done for your special needs child.” I’m going to go through and outline all those things. Now, as I’ve outlined those bullet points, have I directly explained how to go do everything? No.

Micah Shilanski:  No. I’ve created a laundry list of things that they need to get done. Hire me or not, in my opinion, they still need to get this thing done. Now, what are one of their options when they end, is they can hit the easy button, hire us and we’re going to make sure everything gets taken care of.

Matthew Jarvis:   Micah, I think back how much I would’ve paid to be able to have access to this podcast. And I know that sounds like just self flattery, but that line right there, hire me or not. That’s an entire episode right there and I’m going to just jump on this one for a second. Couple of reasons that’s pure genius. One, Micah, it takes all of the pressure off of you as the advisors to tell them.

Micah Shilanski:  Yes.

Matthew Jarvis:   You’re saying, great, all I need to focus here is delivering value, hire me or not. Now, thing number two, that was always their choice. They always have permission. Here we are in communist China and you have to hire me. Sorry about that.

But you’re reaffirming their choice. You’re just saying, “Hey, listen, let’s not worry about the sales pitch, this isn’t a used car, this isn’t a timeshare. Hire me or not, you’ve got to get this done.” And Micah, again, you’re coming to that with all trueness of heart. This isn’t some kind of guys thing. “Listen, hire me or not, but please, please, please get something set up for your special needs child. Now, if you want to hit the easy button, you want us to take care of it. Great news, we can do that. If not, no matter what you do, please get this set up.”

Micah Shilanski:  Absolutely. Because that is true. One of the reasons, I was meeting with an advisor recently, another high level advisor, which is great. One of the things that he said was that he thinks there is a cancer of finance in America and he really sees that it’s his passion to go after this and say, “You know what? We have to educate clients, we have to be persistent, we have to continue going after this cancer because it’s eroding people’s wealth, it’s eroding their dreams and eroding their hopes.” And he’s very passionate about this. And I like that aspect of it because it’s, “You know what, work with me or not, you have to fix this cancer issue, because that’s just the way that this is.”

Now, one of the things, Jarvis, that sometimes comes up is people think about giving too much away or maybe they go too far with it and they’ll do a money guide pro, they’ll do a financial plan. They do all of this stuff for free, then at the end they hope the client’s going to hire it. You’ve missed the boat. That’s the dichotomy, Jarvis, that you and I are talking about, is that if you’re going to do a full financial plan for them for free, then hope they hire you, that’s probably not a good option.

Matthew Jarvis:   Yeah. You’ve go to, again, set these expectations otherwise what the default is, “You’re like Google. Google gives me all the information, “For free.” Right, for free. “You’re just doing the same thing. Vanguard gives me this information, “For free, you’re doing the same thing. Why do I pay for this, that doesn’t make any sense?” You’re making that connection. “Hire me or not, here’s what we’re going to do and at the end of this process you have three choices. You can do it on your own, you can hire someone else or you can hire me.” You’re setting that stage, so you’re making them aware of problems, but you’re not giving away the whole process.

Micah Shilanski:  Absolutely. Now really key insider their, Jarvis, and you just talked about it, I just want to hit highlights on it real fast. You need to give the prospects an option on what to do. Most of the time they’ve never hired a financial planner before. They don’t know what to do. Now, why do I say that? Because 99% of clients don’t change from their financial advisor, or whatever the stat is. I know that’s slightly off, right? But it’s high nineties do not make a change from a financial planner.

Most clients that are coming to you have not worked with a real financial planner before. At the end of the meeting, you need to give them a clear choice in what they need to make, not go away and think about it and let me know. Says, nope, here’s option one, here’s option two, and option three, if you have hire me, that means this is what’s going to happen. And you need to set very clear expectations when they decide to hire you, exactly what’s going to take place. Why? Because this way we can exceed their expectations. If we don’t set their expectations, we are at the whim of their imagination and we never get told what those expectations are and we’re destined to fail.

Matthew Jarvis:   And so your entire prospect process needs to be communicated to the prospect again and again. “Here’s how step one looks, step two, step three. Here’s what it costs. Here’s when you’ll need to make a decision. Here’s when you won’t need to make a decision. In this initial meeting, no decisions need to be made. However, when you go home, you’re going to need to decide, hire me or not, because we’re going to call you on Thursday and see how you’d like to proceed.”

We’re setting all these things up. They’re never surprised by it and they can let their guard down. If you go in, you say, “Hey listen, there will be nothing to buy, there’s nothing to sign up for today, I just want to understand your situation.” Cool. Now they’re not going to let their guard down 100%, because they’re not going to think, they’re not necessarily going to believe you on that, but you’re setting the stage for that and then you’re going to hold true to it.

Micah Shilanski:  Jarvis, and I think when we do our may webinar, we’re really going to be diving into this, doubling the value in your prospect process. But one of the things that we tell clients is they can’t make a buying decision today. Excuse me, prospects. When they’re coming in, prospects can’t make a buying decision today. What does that mean? We don’t even give them an opportunity to become a client.

We’ll talk about these options then Tory in our office is going to call them next week and then they can decide if they want to move forward or not, but they cannot make a purchase decision today. And we actually had a prospect get really irritated because she wanted to move, she was high D, wanted to get rolling, and she’s, “Nope, I’ve already made my decision, I’m going to hire.” “I’m sorry you can’t.”

She’s, “What do you mean I can’t, I’m doing this today?” I’m, “Sorry, this is not our process, we’re not going to do this,” and we’re going to hold to it because she’s testing our convictions. Are we really serious about what we’re saying? And our answer is, yes, so we don’t allow prospects to hire us the same day. You got to follow our process of success. And if you choose not to follow our process of success, then we can’t work with you.

Matthew Jarvis:   Now, Micah, the hardest part I think for advisors who are trying to improve their prospect process, trying to deliver more value is that it’s virtually impossible to see inside of another advisor’s conference room. You can read books about it, or you can read my book, Delivering Massive Value, I talk a lot about this, you can listen to this podcast. It’s very difficult to see inside of another advisors conference room, which is why we do this podcast, which is why we’re doing our webinar next month on doubling the value of the prospect process. Really opening the doors like we’ve done today, but go deeper and say, what are we saying when they walk in, what handouts are we using? We’re even working with the legendary Tom to record his prospect process with real actors so that you can actually see-

Micah Shilanski:  Won’t that be great.

Matthew Jarvis:   … how he does this in his prospect meetings, because there’s nothing more valuable seeing how a successful person does it. If, like we said at the beginning of this, you’re willing to say great, that system works, I’m going to implement that system. Not do I agree or disagree.

Micah Shilanski:  All right, Jarvis, I want to keep going on this but quite frankly we’re running out of time and I want to be respectful. Oh my God, I’m just so excited. May power session, we’re going to spend so much time. Actually, we’re not. We’re going to spend 45 minutes of high power 2X Matt and Micah fashion of jumping into that prospect process and going through it so make sure you’re registered for that. Let’s get to action items because the podcast is all about action items. Now I know all of our faithful listeners have already opened up their iPhone, they’ve given us five stars. Come on, now everybody loves tax planning. Everybody loves giving us five stars. Vote early, vote often.

All right. The first action item for you guys, number one, record your prospect meetings. I know you don’t want to. I know it’s uncomfortable. It’s never been an issue for me with clients, by the way. When I let them know that it’s being recorded saying, “Hey, I want to focus on our meeting, chatting together and that way I’m going to record the meeting so I can go back and reference it for any notes in the future. Is that going to be okay?” And they always say, “Yes.” I’ve never had an issue recording with prospects. And that way we have that, we can review it or find someone to review it, to take action on it.

Matthew Jarvis:   That’ll 10 extra practice right there, there’s probably nothing more impactful that you can do.

Micah Shilanski:  Action item number two, pick one or two things you’re going to work on in each prospect meeting. Maybe it’s the asking engaging questions, maybe it’s coming with an agenda, maybe it’s tallying how many times they said, “Huh, I’m not aware of that.” Maybe it’s body language, maybe it’s measuring who’s engaged versus not engaged, maybe it’s setting expectations, whatever it is. And you can’t do 10 things, you can do one, maybe two. In this meeting, I’m going to work on these two things. Have some kind of reminder, maybe on the corner of your notepad there’s a star to remind you. Maybe you’re wearing a different bracelet or you put your watch on the other hand. Whatever it is, have one to two things that you’re going to work on in each prospect meeting.

Matthew Jarvis:   And I love that. You just hit it real fast, but it’s such a powerful thing. Change something slightly on your person, change your watch, hold your coffee with a different hand. Why? Because it makes you remember, oh yes, I’m supposed to be doing X.

Micah Shilanski:  All right, third action item you have, sign up for the May power session. I know this sounds like a selfish plug and maybe it is, but really this is about doubling your success in prospecting. How do you double value? I don’t want a 1% increase, I don’t want to 10% increase. How do you double the value to your prospects is what we are focused on. And if you’re not interested in that, why the heck did you make it this far? At least jump on that prospect, doubling your prospect power session we’re going to have, because I’m looking at that agenda and that’s going to be a lot of fun.

Matthew Jarvis:   It’s going to be a lot of fun. And if you think of the value of that, if that helps you get one client that you wouldn’t otherwise get, let’s say you have low value clients, $10,000 a year, times 10 years, $100,000 potential value if you can add one new prospect to your client base. I think it’s worth the hour and a half and the small fee that we charge for that.

Micah Shilanski:  Perfect. All right guys, like always, until next time, happy planning.

Matthew Jarvis:   Happy planning.

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