How to Turbo-Charge Your Advising Skills

By Dr. Jack Singer

Become an Powerful “Active Listener” by Adding this P.R.O.P.O.S.A.L. to Your Skill Set

By Jack Singer, Ph.D.

Matt is a financial advisor.  He understands how to make cold calls, how to follow up on leads and referrals and how to offer excellent client service.  Yet, he’s amazed at how much more successful his colleague, Paul, is, since Matt puts much more time and sweat into his work than Paul seems to do.  He wonders what is missing in his approach.

The key difference between Matt and Paul’s approaches is the fact that Paul has trained himself to be an “active listener.” He uses my Active Listening P.R.O.P.O.S.A.L.  not only to help him maximize his client relationships, but it is a powerful technique that helps him communicate effectively with his wife and teenagers as well.

First, whenever you communicate with a prospective client, or, for that matter, with anyone, place yourself at eye level with that person.  If they are sitting, you sit, etc.  Never place yourself above or below the eye level of the speaker.

 Here are the components of my P.R.O.P.O.S.A.L:

P   Probe for understanding.  Your job is to try to understand what your prospective client needs and how you can accommodate those needs.  The only way to show the client that you have exactly the product  and knowledge to satisfy those needs is to ask gentle questions about their goals and hopes. An example is, “If you could picture the ideal financial situation for your family when you are no longer around, please describe what you’d like to see happen.” 

R   Reflect.  The best way to understand your prospective client is to make sure you are listening carefully and the best way to do that is to paraphrase what you heard him say before commenting on it.  An example is, “What I’m hearing is that you want to make sure that your children are well taken care of if you pass on within the next 15 years.”

O   One thing at a time. When you get onto a subject with your prospective client, stick to that.  If she tells you something that sparks an idea for a different product, keep a notebook handy and jot down some notes.  Just listen and comprehend what the prospective client is saying, don’t shuffle papers or start thinking about your response.  Just listen to her.

   Pause.  Regardless of what the person asks, don’t fall into the trap of thinking you need to answer immediately.  Listen and reflect.  It’s ok to say, “That’s a great question.  Give me a day or so to research several products to find the one that precisely addresses your question.”

  Observe nonverbal behavior.  Many studies point out that only a small percentage of what is “heard” by a listener are the words of the speaker.  Most of what is “heard” by the listener is tone of voice, smiling, facial expressions, vocal inflections, etc. Watch for all of these indices of your client’s mood and attitude.  You might even wait for a pause and make an interpretation of what you are sensing.  An example is, “It feels to me that you are assuming that I am trying to force you to purchase this product.  Is that what’s going on in your head?”

S    Summarize.  You’d be amazed at how much you show the client how much you are listening by simply summarizing what you just heard.  If you have hit the key points in your summary, the client will feel validated and closer to you.  If you missed key points that he is trying to convey, he can feel comfortable correcting you about those points at this time.

A    Acknowledge the message.  By understanding what the listener is saying, doesn’t mean necessarily agreeing with her.  You are simply showing that you hear her concerns.  Example, “Alice, I hear your concerns because of your last experience with a stockbroker. Let me get the information you will need to make you feel good about this.” Always acknowledge the speaker and her position before voicing your opinion.

L   Let the speaker finish.  I, myself, am often in a hurry to address an issue before I forget what I want to say.  Cutting off a speaker will lose you their trust immediately.  Always give them the courtesy of letting them finish a point before you interject yours.  Again, take notes so you won’t forget what you wanted to say.

Advising is all about trust and communications.  If you are genuine and offer products to people that will truly satisfy their needs and desires, they will trust you.  That includes not recommending the most expensive product if you believe it is not right for them.  Nothing gains their trust more than you being an excellent listener.  Using this Active Listening P.R.O.P.O.S.A.L .can dramatically increase your success rate.  Practice this with friends and family.  It’s easy to get the hang of it and it really works!

About the Author:

Jack Singer is a professional speaker, trainer and practicing psychologist. Dr. Jack has been designing re-TREATS, speaking for and training Fortune 1000 companies, associations, CEO’s, financial advisors, sales staffs and elite athletes for 34 years.  He is a frequent guest on CNN, MSNBC, FOX SPORTS and countless radio talk shows across the U.S. and Canada.  He is the author of “The Teacher’s Ultimate Stress Mastery Guide,” and several series of hypnotic audio programs, some specifically for athletes and others for anyone wanting to raise their self-confidence, esteem and master their anger.

Dr. Jack’s newest program for financial advisors is entitled, “DEVELOPING THE MINDSET OF A CHAMPION ADVISOR DURING UNCERTAIN TIMES:  How to Empower Yourself to Perform Your Best When it Matters the Most!”

To learn more about Dr. Singer’s speaking and consulting services, please visit or call (800) 497-9880.



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