When it comes to the first meeting with a prospective client, it’s important to start things out on the right foot and build immediate rapport. Your goal from the start of the meeting should be to encourage a positive mindset and let the prospect know they are being listened to and you genuinely care about their concerns. For years, one of the most widely used phrases to define the first meeting has been “Initial Consultation” or “IC.” It has no particular meaning to it other than the fact that it’s descriptive.
While this term is fitting for a first meeting, in many ways it lacks the human element and doesn’t necessarily make a prospect feel any sense of warmth or connection to you or your firm. Although it makes sense from a logical standpoint, it can come across as being generic or impersonal. So the question is, “How should you phrase the definition of the first meeting with a prospect?” Recently, we at the Academy have made habit of using the term “personal consultation.”
A Major Impact from a Minor Change
Using this term rather than the traditional “initial consultation” makes a difference because prospects will feel they are being listened to and really heard in a manner that generates mutual respect and trust. In short, it suggests that you view them as an individual with unique needs and concerns and not merely as a faceless, potential client that’s one of the masses. By taking this slightly different approach to the way you phrase the first meeting, you may notice a significant impact on a prospect’s mindset.
This question of semantics arose as a culmination of evidence and discussion around a book we are buzzing about at the Academy, called Words Can Change Your Brain. It occurred to me that part of the process of Consultation Mastery is to gain some insight as to what the intrinsic purpose of the consultation is and how our actions and words can influence the prospective clients sitting across from us.
The Power of Words
The bottom line is that the words we use can literally change our brains and the way we think. In the book, Words Can Change Your Brain, Newberg and Waldman write that, “…A single word has the power to influence the expression of genes that regulate physical and emotional stress.” They also state, “…Using positive words propel the motivational centers of the brain into action.”
Making the simple transition from “initial consultation” to “personal consultation” may help your prospective clients get into a positive mindset and can be an advantage to both of you in the personal consultation. Although it’s a small change, it could potentially have a profound effect. It may not be a magic bullet that increases your retention rate, but it can definitely be a good start. It should also rub off on your team and make an overall change in the mindset of your firm. While you may not see instant results, there can be a noticeable long-term impact.
Sanford M. Fisch
CEO & Co-Founder
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (800) 846-1555
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