In this weekly series, David Friedman shares the five keystones for effectively prospecting the affluent, distilled from over a decade of advising global leaders in luxury. This week, learn how to build trust by listening and asking the right questions.

In Part 5 of WealthQuotient co-founder David Friedman’s five-part series on the keystone habits real estate agents need to effectively prospect wealthy potential clients, you’ll learn how authentically build trust by listening and asking the right questions. Check in weekly and on Agent Edge for your next strategy-turned-healthy-prospecting habit to add more affluent clients to your database.

Catch up on the series here:

Habit No. 1: Avoid ‘hope marketing,’ and decide to shift your mindset from being reactive to proactive about building your business through referrals

Habit No. 2: Take an inventory of your relationships and clients, and identify the key sources of both your past and future referrals

Habit No 3: Avoid open-ended generic referral requests, and transform referrals into introductions by being specific

Habit No. 4: Spend an hour a week yourself or with tour team thinking about your key referral sources and how to engage them

Habit No. 5:  Learn to be quiet and ask great questions to accelerate and unlock chemistry and trust

There is an old proverb that says, “Even a fool is considered wise when he/she is quiet.”

Most agents would acknowledge that “trust” is one of the most important factors for successful agents. Yet, most agents experience an inner tension between wanting new clients but not wanting to have to sell while simultaneously feeling the compulsion to sell.

As sales professionals, we all get caught up in the zeal and excitement of the moment and often can end up dominating the conversation with a new prospect or relationship. It’s part of a salesperson’s nature. 

However, if trust is the goal, asking great questions in an authentic and genuine way can actually truncate the trust-building process despite the fact that you are not actually “selling” at all. 

While we know this in our heads, its hard to believe in the moment that by not talking about our product or offering our services we can actually shorten the sales cycle because we are building trust.

Oftentimes, we are uncomfortable with dead space, and so, we might try to fill the time with chatter or superficial discussions. I’m not saying you don’t need to layer in deeper thoughts and conversation topics. But a lot of times, the “habit of silence” is missing from sales professional’s toolkit.

Asking great questions is a skill set that works when you are speaking to the average person or a billionaire — and it’s a practical and actionable skill regardless of who you are. What’s more, cultivating this skill and making it a habit protects you from the typical habits of sales professionals who “show up and throw up.”

This is so ingrained in us as sales professionals. That’s also why it’s one of the most critical paradigm shifts that needs to take place not only at an individual level but at an industry level. This habit empowers sales professionals with confidence to be quiet and wait for the right moment to ask great questions.

Great questions shouldn’t be used as a Trojan horse to get to your agenda and objectives. They should be about fully engaging someone else through their passions, hobbies and interests — the things they really care about.

The questions should not be a means to end. The goal is to authentically get to know someone else and understand who they are. This should be the primary motivation, and it’s OK to acknowledge that this strategy will also lead to unlocking trust with a prospect, which frequently leads to a client relationship or another introduction. 

In How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie said it best: “To be interesting, be interested.”

In a recent coaching call with clients from the nonprofit space, they said they are sending very elite and bespoke packages to the networks of their board and key ambassadors in a “word-of-mouth” marketing campaign.

They are leveraging the specific referral request strategy in their contextualized way to ensure that the people receiving the packages will actually listen to the message of the founder, given that each package represents a significant investment. 

I believe this is one of the most effective strategies for using a data-driven referral approach in that they are mapping their board and key donors. This approach captures different elements to these five habits.

Their goal for the package was to have a virtual meeting or call with the co-founder of the nonprofit and the new prospect to discuss the cause of this specific nonprofit.

My recommendation, a slight pivot to their approach, was to reposition the package as invitation to not only discuss the specific focus of the nonprofit, but to have a broader discussion about “redefining philanthropy” with its founder since he has become an innovator in redefining philanthropy.

This approach opens up the dialogue to new relationship whether they have an interest in this specific nonprofit’s focus or not.    

Baby step activation:  

Next time you are headed to a meeting with a prospect or your referral source, create a list of five questions that have nothing to do with your brand, platform or what you are selling and are all about things that are important to them. 

Having this habit and skill in your back pocket, whether you use it or not, instills confidence to actually be quiet until you have something worthwhile to say. The mark of a successful first meeting with a prospect is whether or not they did most of the talking.  

Daily resolve:  

Resolve to have the mindset that you will go into every meeting prepared to ask more questions than generously offered opinions.   

David Friedman is the co-founder of WealthQuotient. Connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter 

agent advice | luxury
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