Note: This is the fourth in an occasional series on language, tools and techniques that can help you become more persuasive–a vital skill for making sure more investors are receptive to the advice and guidance they need.

We all want to be liked. And when we like someone, when we feel a connection, we are much more likely to listen to—and agree with—what that person says. Which is why liking is such a powerful force for persuasion.

There are many ways to be likable—but most cluster around four key areas:

  1. Similarity: We like people who resemble us (including shared background, interests and affiliations).
    For Advisors, this underscores the importance of financial and life discovery (such as our 360 Discovery process) when meeting with new clients. By understanding the client holistically, you will better be able to find commonalities. Also, the more you understand client preferences, the more you can connect recommendations to what clients already understand.
    For example, if you are presenting your Asset Class Investing approach, you may want to ask these three questions, which help the client understand that what you do builds on the way the client is currently invested:

    • Ask your client: Do you want to be more diversified or less? Nobody has ever said less.
    • Ask your client: Do you want to pay more in costs or less? Nobody has ever said more.
    • Ask your client: Do you want to pay more in taxes or less? Nobody has ever said more.


    The power of similarity is also a good reason for making sure your LinkedIn profile, bio and website go beyond your professional accomplishments to include your hobbies and interests, community involvement, organizations you belong to and other details that reflect the fullness of your personality. Consider this Advisor in the DC area who listed on LinkedIn that he spoke Dutch. A prospect came across this info, called up the Advisor and had a great conversation in Dutch that eventually led to the prospect becoming a client.


  3. Familiarity: We like people we’ve had good experiences with previously—or who are recommended by people we like.
    For Advisors, this means you need to create—and maintain—a consistent, high-value client experience. This is also why client referrals are so powerful. I will listen much more attentively to an Advisor who is recommended by one of my friends.

  5. Praise: We like people who value us and give us compliments.
    For Advisors, don’t engage in insincere flattery. But be sure to celebrate genuine client accomplishments. Mine social media to make sure you stay on top of what is going on in clients’ lives. Also, look beyond personal or professional milestones. Is the client on track? Has he been saving and investing diligently? Does she act on your advice? All are good reasons for praise.

  7. Cooperation: We like those who work with us to achieve common goals.
    For Advisors, this means emphasizing that your fee-based/fee only approach means that you and the client are on the same side of the table—that you prosper only as the client prospers. Also be sure to emphasize regularly that the long-term plan you put together for the client is a shared plan, that you are personally and professionally committed to making it successful.


When you can combine these “Like” factors, the results can be powerful. Consider a study of MBA students and negotiation1. The students were divided into two groups and the experiment was run numerous times. One group was told: “Time is money! Get straight down to business!” Only about 55% of the time was this group able to reach an agreement.
The other group was instructed: “Before you begin negotiating, exchange some personal information with each other; identify a similarity you share in common.” 90% of the time, this group was able to come to an agreement that was, on average, worth 18% more to both parties.
The more you know about your clients, the better. And don’t be afraid to be yourself.

Diversification neither assures a profit nor guarantees against loss in a declining market.
Here are the other blogs in the series:
Becoming More Persuasive #1—Freedom
Becoming More Persuasive #2 — Reciprocity
Becoming More Persuasive #3 — Authority