One of the most challenging questions in the business world is, “What makes you and your business different, and why should I work with you?” How do you answer this question?
When I asked a group of financial advisors, I heard answers like: “We provide a holistic overview of your financial world” and “We offer comprehensive, customized service” and “We help you live the retirement of your dreams.”
There are two problems with these statements: 1) almost everyone is saying them, and, 2) they’re not substantive, they don’t create a compelling reason to talk further.
This problem is not unique to the financial services industry. I hear these types of statements at every networking or business event I attend. They are usually met with disinterest from potential clients, who’ve heard the same ‘elevator talk’ from other people in your industry.
What can you tell prospective clients that will create interest in working with you? Tell your story. Your story is the one competitive edge you bring to the marketplace that no one can match.
When I say ‘your story,’ I refer specifically to the reason why you do business. The most successful individuals typically have a compelling reason that drives them to do what they do. It’s their big ‘why.’
Tell your ‘why’ and you can create the foundation for long-term, mutually beneficial client relationships.
As an example, when I conducted seminars for women in my financial planning practice, it wasn’t unusual to be asked, “Michael, why do you do these events? Are you trying to help us with money, or is there another reason?”
I always appreciated the candor of this question. Rather than launch into a laundry list of all the great services we offered, and our new initiative to help promote financial education for women, I shared this story:
When I was 25, I stopped by my Mom’s house one afternoon. She was sitting at her kitchen table. It was covered with papers and bills and her checkbook. She had tears in her eyes. I knew something was wrong because Mom doesn’t usually cry.
“Mom, what’s wrong?”
She said, “I can’t get any money.”
Confused, I replied, “What do you mean you can’t get any money?”
“I can’t get any money, Michael! I can’t get a credit card or a loan!”
I said, “I don’t understand, Mom. You’ve got money in the bank. You paid all the bills on time for you and Dad. You’re good with your money. I don’t understand.”
Frustrated, she said, “That’s just it. I paid all the bills, took care of the loans, and handled the books for the business. But everything was in your Dad’s name. When we divorced, he took the credit rating and the bill-paying history with him. Everything I did doesn’t mean anything.”
With pain in her face, and in her voice, she added, “It’s like I don’t even exist……”
I’ll never forget that look on her face or the tone of her voice when she made that last statement. I conduct these workshops because I don’t ever want to see or hear another woman feel the way Mom did that day.
The attendees could always sense my genuineness and understood my ‘why.’ We connected in that moment. Our workshops were fun, educational and we helped many women improve their financial lives.
If you want to create an impact on prospective clients, and stand out from a crowded field of competitors, tell them ‘why’ you do what you do.
In the next article, you’ll pick up tools on how to do this. Until then, think about this question:
What’s your story?