Tension can be a good thing - and not only for the pharmaceutical industry.Advisors who appropriately pull the right tension strings will be the ones who win the clients. The key is to recognize tension and either disarm it or increase it, as appropriate.

Here's what I mean.

During the first meeting with a prospect, there's relationship tension and task tension. The relationship tension is high. He doesn't know you, doesn't want to know you, and likely resents the time he is spending with you. On the other hand, his task tension is low. He has no intention of doing business with you. To move forward, the relationship tension needs to be relieved and the task tension raised. The best way to accomplish this is to simply tell a story.

Stories can disarm relationship tension. Through stories, a prospect learns about what is important to you. It reveals your vulnerabilities, thus making it easier for someone to identify with you. If told with conviction, it will help you make an instant connection and a memorable impression. It will make someone feel like you "get" them. A story can make someone want to do business with you.

A client needs to feel in their gut that you are the right person - over all the other advisors that have knocked on their door. They don't get that feeling from the products you sell, the companies you represent, the breadth of your services, or your cool technology and office space. While important, these things won't win a client. What wins clients is what is inside of you. What drives you. Your passion.

I've found that the easiest way to reveal my passion is to talk about why I became an advisor.

Here are a few examples. When meeting with business owners, I tell them about my great-grandfather, who came to this country at 14 years old with nothing. He built a successful construction company, which he passed to my grandfather. My grandfather passed the business to his two sons with no formal succession plan. Within 10 years, the company was gone. Sold and forgotten. And the relationship between the two sons was ruined. I saw what it did to my family. I don't want to see that happen to another family. I help business owners plan for the future to ensure that their wishes prevail, while maintaining as much harmony in the family as possible.

When meeting with an estate-planning prospect, I use a different story. I tell them that my grandfather believed that the key to success was a quality education, so he established trusts for the education of his 10 grandchildren. That trust paid for a private grammar school, high school and college for me and my siblings. And even though we never met him, all of the grandchildren knew how he felt about education. We knew his values. Every time a tuition bill was paid, it was reinforced. His legacy shaped my life and the lives of each of my siblings. I want to help people make that kind of statement to their next generation.

These stories do something other than lower the relationship tension - they subtly inspire action. The anecdotes intentionally hit close to home. They resonate with clients. They make clients uneasy about the solidity of their plans for the future. Their task tension increases. Once the relationship tension is lowered and the task tension raised, the client is ready to do some planning - with you.

Every advisor has stories of what inflames their professional passion. You need to share them with your clients. It is the one thing they will remember, and likely to be what they pass along when telling family and friends to do business with you.

Edmond Walters is the founder and CEO of eMoney Advisor (www.emoneyadvisor.com), in Conshohocken, Pa.

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