You are meeting with a potential new client. You’re learning a bit about each other. And the potential client asks, “So, how long have you been doing this?”
Most people answer with a number, the number of years they have been practicing their profession or been with their company. But that potential client isn’t really asking for a number. He or she is asking, “Do you really know what you’re doing?”
This is just one of the questions clients ask that sends a signal they want to know about your credentials.
So what’s a better answer than just a number? Here are some ideas:
- Explain your education, certifications and designations. This is a perfect time to explain the alphabet soup after your name and, most importantly, why it is a benefit to that client.
- Share how you stay up to date on your area of expertise.
- Talk about the resources you bring to the relationship including other specialists you work with and other people on your team.
- Share the types of clients you work with, especially if they are similar to the prospective client in front of you.
For example, “I’m a CFP, or Certified Financial Planner. Did you know that almost 40% of people who take the CFP test fail? But it was important to me to gather the extensive knowledge and expertise necessary to become a CFP so I can better serve my clients.”
Note the addition of the failure rate. The average investor doesn’t know if this is a designation you get with a couple of hours of preparation or if it’s something that requires a lot of work and knowledge.
What if I haven’t been in the industry very long?
I hear this a lot, especially from younger people starting out their careers. Here’s what you can share… Do you have an area of focus? If you just got out of school, have you been educated on the latest information, technology or regulations?
Another possibility, as we noted above, is to talk about the resources you bring besides just yourself. You may have other team members or resources you bring to the table.
Finally, share something with the prospective client that will calm their concerns. If they are asking about your credentials, they have concerns.
I talked with a very successful young mortgage originator who shared what he says to new clients. “I’m going to be a part of your family for the next 30 days. I’m going to be right here to walk you through every step of the process.” His confidence and concern for the client helped him win their trust.
The bottom line is, when asked, “How long have you been doing this?” be prepared to share something more than just a number. Use it as an opportunity to share your credentials.