Making client meetings more effective

7 Tips for Effective Questioning

May 22, 2017

LPL Financial

Clients want more than an advisor who can generate investment returns; they want someone who can expertly orchestrate and protect the various financial components of their lives through each major event and change. Use these seven tips for effective questioning to get more out of your annual meetings, build trust, and serve your clients.

Put your questioning skills to good use—incorporate them into a financial planning approach that takes your clients’ whole lives into account.

Asking Better Questions to Build Client Trust

Successful client relationships are the cornerstone of your business. To sustain them, it’s important to build trust and gain a thorough understanding of your clients’ lives, goals, and potential obstacles to success. Make these connections by employing effective questioning techniques that make clients feel heard and understood, while giving you the information you need to service them.

Use the following tips to ask more effective questions in your client meetings and create an environment where clients feel comfortable discussing their lives with you, ultimately deepening your relationships.

Plan ahead.

Consider what you want to discover in this meeting and come prepared with some baseline questions to begin the conversation. As your meeting progresses, you can modify this list as needed.

Ask open-ended questions.

Asking questions that require more than a simple yes or no answer allow clients to elaborate. Using only yes or no questions can quickly shut down a conversation and make the meeting feel more like an interrogation than a discussion.

Ensure your questions are focused and easy to understand.

Ask one thing at a time, using relatable language. Vague questions, or ones that use too much jargon or technical terminology, can leave clients feeling confused or frustrated. Keep your questions to the point—you can always follow up.

Listen attentively to find follow-up opportunities.

Pay attention to what your clients are saying, actively responding along with the conversation as needed. Focus on what they’re saying, not on how you’ll respond. When you do, repeat key points back to them as you ask follow-up questions. This shows clients they’ve been heard and understood. If you need more information, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification when necessary.

Don’t interrupt, and be comfortable with silences.

Let clients do the talking. Allow them to finish their thoughts before jumping in. Periods of silence can also work to your advantage—clients feel open and unhurried to more fully express their thoughts.

Avoid leading language.

Keep questions neutral, avoiding using language that’s overtly positive or negative (e.g., “Wouldn’t it be great if this happened within five years?” or “Where do you think this went wrong?”). Reframe the question in a way that allows for discussion and exploration (e.g., “What do you envision yourself doing in the next five years?” or “How do you feel the process worked?”).

Respect your clients’ time.

Ask questions you want to know the answers to and avoid the ones you don’t. When your meeting is finished, be sure to thank your clients for an insightful and productive conversation and follow up in a timely manner.

Put your questioning skills to good use—incorporate them into a financial planning approach that takes your clients’ whole lives into account.