Conversations That Count

AdvisorBlast – Quick Tips to Accelerate Your Practice

In this issue:  What to say when people ask, "What do you do?"


When meeting new people it's easy to talk about yourself: you're an expert on the topic, after all! But because our business is about helping people, when we're looking to connect with prospects, we need to focus our energy on learning about them in order to be able to identify where we might be of help. How do you answer questions about you in a way that actually invites others to tell you more about them?

Firstly, I'm a big proponent of practicing what you're going to say. Don't try to make things up on the fly: anticipate questions (initial ones are pretty common – like, "What do you do?") and know in advance what you want to communicate. (It's not just about what you say, but also about what others hear!) Practice out loud enough so you are comfortable saying the words. You never want what you say to sound memorized or rehearsed, but as you practice, you'll become more comfortable, and your words will come to feel more natural. When you know what to say and how to say it, you can keep relaxed, even if you don't particularly enjoy small talk. You can keep the conversation moving forward, or learn early on if someone is a good fit for your business or not.

They ask:  "What do you do?"

You respond:  (Keep in mind that you want them to hear how you help people – not just hear your job title.) "I work with people who are serious about their financial objectives and help them plan and invest accordingly." (Then pause briefly to let them mentally catch up with what you just said.)

Why say this? Who doesn't want to think they're serious about their financial goals and planning?

You:  "My approach isn't for everyone; there are still people who want to try and pick stocks, chasing the hot dot of the day. But, I'm finding a lot of people who are just plain tired of the emotional swirl that comes with that approach." (Pause.)

Why say this? It's human nature to want to be included. These words will get your prospect to start wanting to figure out what it takes to be included in your group. You also hit the exclusivity point: people like to think they're a part of something elite. By saying you're not for everyone, you can specify the types of people who don't suit the way you do business.

You: "I work with families on the stuff that counts – the really important stuff."

Why say this? People want to know what's important. Is there something they need to know but don't? They want to find out what you think is important so they are "in the know." 

You:  "Things like getting children through college, retiring, enjoying what they've worked hard to save…stuff like that."

Why say this? Give people examples of real issues you could help them with so they can begin to picture getting this help from you. Even if you don't mention their specific concerns, they still hear that you deal with practical life issues. Rather than limiting yourself in their minds, you give them permission to think how you might relate to their circumstances and invite them to inquire how you might be able to help them, saying something like, "Do you work with IRA's?", or, "Do you work with insurance stuff?", or, "How do you work?"

You:  At this point, if you feel this part of the conversation is winding down, you can say something like, "If you have any questions about planning, or retirement,  or personal balance sheet stuff, here are my details. I'm happy to help with any questions you might have."

Why say this? You haven't been pushy, but you stay in control of the conversation and leave the door open to further conversation later on. They know you are a knowledgeable resource they can turn to for help.

Then, steer the conversation toward them. Move on to asking questions about their life, work, or family, not from a hidden or manipulative motive, but to genuinely find out who this person is. Keep cultivating a genuine interest in discovering things about people and hearing their stories. Remember, the point of your conversations is to learn more about them to see how you might be able to help.

To your interesting conversations,

Copyright Paul Kingsman 2012


As a motivational speaker and executive coach, Paul Kingsman helps financial services professionals successfully grow their businesses by taking practical daily steps to achieve outstanding long-term results. Combining his experiences as an Olympic medalist and his background as an advisor, Paul understands how to stay focused over the long haul, as well as the unique business challenges faced by advisors. Through his professional speaking and executive coaching he equips them to overcome distractions so they can get the money they need, the clients they want, and the time to do what they love.

To find out more about how Paul can equip you or your team to achieve outstanding results, visit or email him at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *