Practice Management TrendsettersNovember 15, 2017

Communication Skills: They Key to Getting More Clients & Better Clients in Any Economic Environment
Guest Contributor: Bill Bacharach

Could your communication skills save your life? According to my colleague in the Speakers Roundtable, Capt. Charlie Plumb, the answer is YES!

He survived nearly 6 years in a Vietnamese prisoner of war camp – the Hanoi Hilton. The same luxury accommodations as John McKain, only Charlie was there longer. Here’s what he has to say about communication, “I had been through the survival schools in the military and been told repeatedly, that if I were a prisoner of war to, ‘maintain contact with my fellow POW's!’ I thought this was very logical. How else could we pass along the escape plans? Much to my surprise, the ‘life saving’ value of communication in the camps wasn't the information we were passing around, but the simple VALIDATION of another human being! After months of solitary confinement in a very dark cell a person loses track of ones very existence. There is no sounding board ... no feedback ... nothing to prove that you are real. The simple tapping on a wall (shave-and-a-haircut?) and the response (six-bits) proves your existence. Someone is responding to you! The point for a Financial Advisor: It's not the ‘data’ that's the important part of the communication process. It's the simple validation of an individual and their pain.”

Do not underestimate the power of human connection. Communication is how human beings connect. Check out the rest of Charlie Plumb’s inspiring story at And be prepared to stop whining. If he can survive 6 years as a POW you can certainly survive a recession. The quality of your communication skills will help.

You may never rely on your communication skills to save your life, but they are the key to whether or not prospects and clients trust you, whether or not they move all of their money and financial affairs to you, whether or not they follow your advice, whether or not they stick with you during challenging times, and whether or not they refer you and introduce you to others.

Yes, communication skills are vital for financial advisors. What you say, how you say it, and when you say it can make all the difference in the world to your success, failure, or mediocrity.

We are now in correction territory in the market. Kevin Knull, CFP®, President of MoneyGuidePro® says, “Your ability to truly communicate (and especially listen) in a volatile market environment may be the difference between keeping and losing a client.”

In this article I will share some immediately implementable and results-producing ideas. And I will go beyond that and also introduce you to some of the best and brightest communicators I know and their relevant ideas. You’ll get some of their “nuggets” and I’ll refer you to their books and websites so you can explore further those things which resonate with you.

Bert Decker, author of the excellent book You’ve Got to be Believed to be Heard and the creator of the Decker Communications class,, says, “the quality of your communication determines the quality of your life.”

Patricia Fripp, one of the most precise and effective communicators in the world, quotes one of her mentors, David Palmer, as saying, “specificity leads to credibility.” I admire Patricia for her relentless pursuit of accurate, articulate, and specific communication. How specific is your communication? How often do you use substitute words like “stuff” for the actual word that accurately describes what you meant to say? How often to you say things like “kinda” or “sorta” or other ambiguous words that make you sound like you really don’t know what you are talking about? How much more compelling could you make your communications by being more precise with your words? 

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Enthusiastically yours,

Grant Hicks, CIM, National Director Practice Management
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