Top 4 Internal Wholesaler Skills (Part 3)

This post is the third in the series.   


The best internals assume they may only get three questions with successful advisors (and they don’t wing it).

Questions that are self serving (“tell me about your business.”), or not relevant (“If I could show you my fund is better than yours…”) get a sigh, glaze and perhaps a token “I’ll take a look at it.”

When an advisor pauses and says “that’s a good question…” you’ve passed the litmus test.  Top advisors love smart questions, asked in a smart sequence – questions that help them think through ways to save time, solve a problem, make their life easier and/or make more money.

So if you only get three, what format will help you gather the most information in the shortest amount of time, keep the advisor engaged and motivate him to tell you what makes him tick?

Here’s the sequence and examples of question structure to help you stay in the game:


Question #1:  TWO FOR  ONE

If you are lazy about your profiling you are probably asking for single pieces of info  like:  What mutual funds do you use?  What percentage of your book is in mutual funds?  Are there categories you are not happy with?

TWO FOR ONE questions drive shorter more focused conversations – the kind that top advisors appreciate.  Some examples:

  • What role do (funds, alternatives, ETFs) play in your business and what decision making criteria / process do you use?
  • What fund allocations are you considering changing in the near term and why?
  • What has changed in your business since we last spoke and how does that impact what you have on your plate now?

If your question is off the mark the advisor will clarify and probably tell you even more. The important thing is that these are not self-serving or leading questions.  They help you determine if you can (or should) help the advisor, so it make sense to use this kind of question first.


If you ask an advisor “what’s important about choosing a particular investment,” you will most likely get  ‘performance’.  Please don’t jump (off the bridge) and try to convince him that your small performance advantage is what he needs.  At least with any substantial advisor.   You’ll get to the real deal much faster by eliminating the obvious as your second question in the sequence.

Some examples:

  • Aside from performance, what’s important to you when you make a change in your investments or models? 
  • Aside from great service and getting back to you quickly, what makes you choose to work with one internal over another?
  • Aside from helping you understand how these alternatives work, what else might be useful to you in determining if they make sense for your practice?

Question #3:  I HEARD YOU

This type of question makes your job way easier by getting an advisor to tell you more and give you his preferred language without having to think of another good question.

Here’s how it works:  When the advisor is responding to your first two questions, take notes and capture some of his important words.  When he finishes, resist the overwhelming urge to present.  Often there is more to the story.

Try restating:  So it sounds like you are looking for something in the alternative space that is easy for your clients to understand, with a decent track record and access to the portfolio managers?  

Then the hardest part –BE QUIET, don’t answer your own question and let him expand, clarify and ideally tell you more about the ‘why’.  Trust me, he will!

This type of question works best as the last in the sequence because it requires you to listen. Human beings really want to be listened to because it happens so rarely.  Suddenly the advisor begins to see that you are not just any internal wholesaler…

Give it a shot.  Would love to hear some of the questions that really work for you!

Stay tuned for Part 4 in the series “Stops”.