As we’ve explored in this blog series, virtual meetings are harder than live meetings, and people are starting to experience meeting fatigue. Because of this, while it’s nice to call a client to touch base, the best reason to conduct a virtual meeting is to motivate action.

For clients, that action may be to allocate new assets, to make a change in the portfolio structure or to complete an aspect of the financial plan that keeps them current with your Standard of Care. For prospects, that action will typically be to take one more step toward engagement or to begin the onboarding process.

Observations of advisor behavior over the past 30 years have revealed a surprising pattern: many advisors either assume the client or prospect knows what action to take or don’t clearly articulate what action they want the other person to take after the meeting. Don’t make those mistakes. Be crystal clear about what you want the client or prospect to do and why it’s important to do it now.

Here are six steps to organize a meeting’s flow so that you always keep your close on.

1. Introduce a Problem

The first step is to create a message that gains the listener’s attention. Our brains are constantly scanning the vast amounts of information around us and trying to decide what’s worth paying attention to and what can safely be ignored. Too often, the information an advisor is trying to convey doesn’t qualify as urgent or important enough to warrant interest. Without securing the brain’s attention, the message fails before it even gets started.

With this in mind, galvanize attention and urgency. Energize the message by starting with a problem that captures the listener’s hardworking brain: “There is a problem. It represents a danger. It’s important for you to pay attention and understand how this may affect you.”

2. Reveal the Mechanisms of the Problem

Next, activate the listener’s rational thought processes by explaining the dynamics that created the problem. These mechanisms are usually the cause-effect relationships underlying how the capital markets function. The advisor’s advice becomes valuable if she can interpret and explain the dangers of those dynamics. Revealing the mechanisms involved in the current problem activates the listener’s neo-cortex, engages his deliberate decision-making processes and earns you credibility.