I was a guest at someone's home recently. It was a casual get-together but there were many people there. I chatted with someone for a while but just behind me, in the living room, I heard another conversation and I smiled at how brilliantly it was pulled off.

A group of people were sitting down and the conversation ranged across the usual topics. But slowly, without anyone else noticing, one man started to take control of the conversation and about half an hour later I glanced back and noticed that the rest of the living room was sitting quietly, enraptured by everything he had to say. He worked for a financial planning company and I watched the audience with interest… they were eating up his every word.

Now, I know that financial planning is a tough gig — but in one sense, it's no different than any other kind of entrepreneurial work: you're trying to sell something that people are convinced they don't need or want.

But this financial planner was working the room and doing a great job.

How did he do it? I wouldn't say that he was any more dynamic than anyone else I've ever met, but he asked questions that solicited a response from people. And I could hear the questions he was asking solicited a guided response… meaning the people who answered thought they were giving a clever answer when in reality it was exactly the answer he was looking for.

It was a brilliant performance.

The financial planning industry has this kind of pitch perfected (although not always as effectively used as it was that night). Do you know the various steps in a classic pitch that would allow you to walk a cold prospect right into a sale? What questions (questions that solicit a guided response) can you ask? What buzz words will catch their attention?