The 5 Mistakes of your 1st Meeting

Amar Pandit , CFA , CFP

Amar Pandit

A respected entrepreneur with 25+ years of Experience, Amar Pandit is the Founder of several companies that are making a Happy difference in the lives of people. He is currently the Founder of Happyness Factory, a world-class online investment & goal-based financial planning platform through which he aims to help every Indian family save and invest wisely. He is very passionate about spreading financial literacy and is the author of 4 bestselling books (+ 2 more to release in 2020), 8 Sketch Books, Board Game and 700 + columns.

I had written a post titled “The Second Objective of your First Prospect Meeting”. Many of you had liked it and wrote to me about how best to conduct it. On the other hand, I still get questions around the First Meeting and many of them have these words such as “How do we convince or What should be our Pitch?” Since I have covered quite a bit about the Objectives of the First Meeting, I thought of writing about the common mistakes that I have seen in the most important part of our work. If there is one thing that you must get better at in this profession, it is the First Meeting.

There are five common mistakes that I have seen financial professionals like you commit regularly in the first meeting. Some of you might not even realize it or not even admit it is a mistake because it is worked for you earlier or that is how you have been taught to do it.

However, before I get into these mistakes, the fundamental shift that you must do is in your mindset. Carl Richards has identified 3 mindset shifts that are necessary:

  • Desperate to confident – Do not try too hard to sell yourself and your products
  • Salesperson to doctor
  • Numbers to feelings – In all questions about money and goals, there is an underlying emotional need; it is your job to uncover it

These mindset shifts are so critical that you should take a moment to reflect on it. Write this down somewhere and invest your time digesting this. The mistakes that I often see in the first meetings is simply a reflection of these 3 issues (Desperate, Salesperson and Numbers).

Mistake #1. We have to Pitch

We often go into meetings thinking that we are here to pitch our products. Imagine a professional such as a Doctor or a Lawyer doing this. I am talking about people who consider themselves real professionals. Yes, there are quacks in every profession, but the real ones Never Pitch. They are not Desperate. They are Confident. You win half the battle by believing in yourself, and in what you have to offer. This is confidence which means an intense trust and is absolutely critical to your success. Write this line somewhere and repeat We Never Pitch.

Mistake #2. We have to Convince

This is another variation of Mistake Number 1 where we feel we have to convince people. Remember Real Professionals are not in the Convincing business just like they are not in the Pitching business. Go to the best of the best doctors (read stuff on google if you like to) and have a conversation with them. They will never convince you because they simply do not do that. They will politely say NEXT PATIENT. Somehow, we have learnt that our job is to convince people because there are 1000s of idiots who are doing it. I am sorry to break this to you, but you never ever have to convince anyone of anything. You come across as a real professional when you understand their situation, walk them through your experience and let them know the next course of action. The right course of action sometimes is to not take the prospect on board and thus you should politely guide the prospect somewhere else.

Mistake #3. We do not diagnose properly

This is one of the cardinal mistakes that I see being committed all the time. Imagine you are visiting a Doctor for a pain that you feel. Instead of properly diagnosing you, the doctor starts talking about his qualifications, his achievements and then shows you the latest pain-relieving pills in the market and how they are the right ones for you. How would you feel? This is the experience that most prospects go through when they deal with folks from our industry/profession. Thus, they are not able to differentiate between firms or see value in the powerful work that we are truly capable of. The only difference they see is in the products that are pitched, the performance charts that are thrown at them or the smooth talker that you are (not to mention the pin striped suits) who feeds them with what they want to hear. A doctor does not massage your ego or makes you feel special, but he thoroughly diagnoses and does what she is supposed to do. Real Financial Professionals thoroughly (not superficially) diagnose their prospective clients and the prospect can feel the difference. The way you conduct this step will not only differentiate you, but the prospect will also respect you for being a thorough and real professional.

Mistake #4. We talk more

Because of mistakes 1, 2 and 3, we commit this fatal mistake of talking more. Try a little experiment that Carl has spoken about. The next time you do a meeting with a prospective client, keep a timer of the number of minutes you talk in a meeting. You will be surprised with what you see. Most in our industry globally have something like this; 50 minutes they talk and the prospect for 10 minutes. The best professionals follow a different rule; the prospect talks for 40-45 minutes and the professional talks for 15-20 minutes. The prospects talk when they connect with you or trust you. How do you get someone you have just met to connect with you or trust you? This brings me to the 5th mistake.

Mistake #5. We do not ask good questions

This is one of the most important mistakes and thus it causes the first 4 to happen. I have previously written about the power of asking good questions. You should consider questions as your tools or your weapons in a meeting. You have to be armed with good questions. I will do a detailed post on this one, but I have done some writing on this previously. The questions you ask get your prospective clients to think and give you thoughtful answers. In that process, they clarify their own thoughts about their life, and what is important to them. I cannot tell you how powerful this is and thus asking good questions is a simple yet powerful marketing tactic.

There are many more mistakes, but these 5 mistakes cover 95% of the mistakes that I see most in our industry committing. Continuing to commit these mistakes is equal to having sugar on a regular basis. We do not even realize that sugar is the biggest cause of chronic illnesses such as Cancer, Diabetes, Heart Diseases and so on. We treat the Symptoms with a Pill but not the System that causes it. Likewise, we treat the prospect did not close in the first meeting with more convincing and pitching rather than understanding the root cause and the science behind what is really happening.

I am a firm believer of making mistakes because this is how we learn but there is something else that I believe in that is brilliantly captured by this quote “Never judge a person for their mistakes, judge a person on how they fix them.