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Phone manner is secret to success

The apprehension that comes with receiving an unexpected call from a client is natural, but should be managed to ensure that business opportunities are not missed, according to Paul Cadde.

“Do they want to cancel a policy?” and “Are they unhappy with their investment performance?” These are examples of negative thoughts shared by some advisers upon receiving these calls, the founder of Hampshire-based Adviser Breakthrough Solution said.

Mr Cadde added: “Client will pick up the negativity from your voice, subconsciously if not consciously. This alone can turn a ‘neutral’ call into a negative one, or a potentially positive call into one that is less positive, which could ultimately lead to a loss of opportunity or even a loss of business.

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“When you answer the call with a positive feeling, this comes across to the caller. You are much more likely, as a result, to obtain a positive reaction, whether this is to meet with you, introduce you to someone else, or begin the sales process for another and perhaps unexpected sale.”

Mr Cadde identifies two techniques to dealing with incoming call jitters. The first involves establishing a framework in which the adviser is not the first port of call to deal with such calls.

Employing and/or training an assistant to answer calls and take messages is ideal, according to Mr Cadde, adding that the individual would not have the same emotional investment in the business and in the client relationship, and should therefore find it easier to be upbeat and positive.

Those who do not have any employees can purchase the services of a virtual PA, which could make the process seamless, so clients would not realise that he or she does not work in the same office.

“Do not, though, let your clients and prospective clients feel they are being screened, or ‘fobbed off’ in any way,” Mr Cadde said.

“The best way to avoid this is to make sure you return the call very shortly afterwards. But you will be making this call with at least some idea of what it is going to be about.”

Secondly, Mr Cadde said advisers should recall the successes they have had, which started with, or was enhanced by, a call.

He said: “If you look carefully I am quite sure you will find this is true. Our minds have a tendency to remember bad news and forget good news – just like the daily newspapers.

“Even if you do decide to delegate, you should still conduct this exercise. There will still probably be occasions when you will need to answer the phone.”

Adviser view

Darren Cooke, chartered financial planner at Derbyshire-based Red Circle Financial Planning, said: “I think the nerves are a natural response, but I’d say it depends on the client.

“Some clients only call if something goes wrong, but there are clients who ring out of the blue to say they have £20,000 that they would like to invest. I try to stay positive and not let unexpected calls worry me.”