Image by Sergi Viladesau on Unsplash
When you meet with a prospect, how important is it that you engage them?
I’ve asked that question hundreds of times. Everyone gives me the same response: It’s very important.
Then I ask: What does that mean to you?
The most common response is: I want them to be really interested in what I’m saying.
That premise – trying to engage others by being interesting – couldn’t be more flawed.
There’s a much better way to engage anyone, on any subject, for as long as you wish. Not only will you engage them, but you will increase their level of trust in you and maximize the possibility of converting them from a prospect into a client.
I define “full engagement” as follows: The brain of the other person must be totally occupied by the interaction so there is no room for extraneous thoughts.
It’s very difficult to fully engage someone when you’re talking. This is a critical tenet of the Solin Process℠. It’s also very counter-intuitive for investment advisors because you may believe prospects expect you to convey information. How can you do that if you’re not talking?
The brain processes information at around 500 words a minute. You speak at around 100 words a minute. This means that 80% of the capacity of the brain of the prospect is free to wander and daydream or become preoccupied with other thoughts when you are talking. The longer you talk, the more likely the attention of your prospect will drift.
When you’re talking, you’re losing.
An opera lesson
I always wanted to go to the opera house in Sydney. Finally, I got my chance. I was booked to give a series of talks in Sydney. My wife and I immediately snagged tickets to an opera performance.
When the performance started, I was fully engaged. As it continued, I started to focus on the sessions I would be conducting in Sydney. How would they go? Would I be able to get the participants to interact with me? Would I be appropriately sensitive to cultural norms? The list went on from there. I was still listening to the performance (which was superb), but I was not fully engaged.
When I reflected on this experience, I contrasted what was going on in my brain to the mindset of the performers. Their focus was to give the best performance possible. I would be shocked if any of them could recall a single extraneous thought that entered their mind while they were singing.
It’s very difficult to think about anything other than what you are saying while you are speaking. Speaking fully occupies the brain. This is true whether you are speaking to a friend, a prospect or performing in front of a large audience.
Achieving full engagement
The key to engaging with anyone is elicit information. Ask questions, listen carefully and intensely to their responses, and ask appropriate follow-up questions.
There will come a time when they will ask you a question. Keep your answer very short and return to asking questions.
If your prospect occupies “center stage,” he or she will have the mindset of performers at the opera I attended.
They will be fully engaged.
It’s not a parlor trick.