Learning from The Sing-Off – Don’t Sing To Your Clients Out of Tune

Posted By on Mar 5, 2014|3 comments

Recently, I was in the mood to listen to a cappella music, so I went onto YouTube and browsed their selection. I was drawn to the clips of NBC’s show The Sing-Off.

The show puts a cappella groups together to compete against one another. I paid special attention to clips from the Yellow Jackets, a group from my alma mater—the University of Rochester—and the Aires, Dartmouth College’s a cappella group that my father sang in when he went to school.

In both cases, the YouTube segment shows them singing, as well as a clip about an emotional component of what was driving their singing. In the case of the Yellow Jackets, they had taken a trip to Africa that inspired and brought the team together as a unit. The team kept talking about singing for the kids in Africa.

The Aires faced a dilemma when member Michael Odokara-Okigbo’s mother had a stroke, and he struggled between helping his mother and supporting his team on the show.

The show brings these emotional components out as the MC, Nick Lachey, asks the participants questions that go beyond a sing-off. This is what makes the show emotional and allows the audience to feel a personal connection to the groups. With each question, Lachey digs deeper to unearth the real story and create a reason for the audience to become invested in the group.

So what does this have to do with financial advisors?

As a sales trainer for financial advisors, I find that advisors often struggle with asking good questions of their clients.

Two weeks ago, I was working with an advisor in New Mexico who knew the importance of asking good questions but had gotten away from understanding what his clients really wanted.

The difficulty is that you need to ask questions of clients more than once to get what is really going on when focusing on a particular topic.

Townsend Wardlaw, my sales mentor, recently wrote an article about the importance of asking good discovery questions. In this article, he references the Sandler Sales Pain Funnel, shown below.March 5 Picture

The idea behind any discovery process is that as you dig down, you ask more insightful questions.

We provided an overview of this process in “Sound Selling: How To Collaborate With Clients.”

Stay in Control by Asking the Right Questions

Asking good questions establishes credibility and enables you to be in control. And most importantly, for the more analytical folks, it takes you from being the typical salesperson to being a consultant, where you are able to provide value to the client.

With a prospect in front of you, you want to create a hierarchy of questions in order to dig deeper and truly understand where they are at. As a salesperson, you need to build up to your level of understanding.

Discovery is a mutual collaboration for both individuals in order to understand each other and to align the goal to see if moving forward together makes sense.

The discovery process is difficult. It takes practice. And even then it is easy to rush through it.

The Sing-Off is not just about the singing. The show draws you in emotionally by finding (or creating) a story that makes you want to bond with the contestants. The story unfolds through a series of questions that the host asks in order to dig deeper. Your mission as a financial advisor is to ask good questions to discover what your prospects want and need. Without the answers to these important questions, you face the risk of singing out of tune.


  1. Thanks for the link and the comment Don. Appreciate the link to number 7 and the blog.

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  2. Hi Jamie,

    I totally loved your post – one of the best resources I’ve ever come across on – Asking the right questions!

    Thank you for noticing and appreciating.


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  3. Thanks KAS – asking the right questions is so important. I think one of the biggest struggles for financial advisors is finding the right question to ask. First it gets the client in the right mindset 2. It helps the advisor truly solve a problem.

    Post a Reply


  1. 9 Things Successful Financial Advisors Do Differently | Don Connelly & Associates - […] are also great sales persons (see #7 below), then you must check out James Cornehlson’s post Don’t Sing To…

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