Are you losing appointments to client shame? Pt. 2Article added by Steve Lewit on August 14, 2014

Steve Lewit

Buffalo Grove, IL

Joined: February 27, 2008

My Company

In the first half of this series, we defined shame as something that makes us feel so unworthy that we want to hide it or keep it a secret, so that no one else will see our unworthiness. Shame roots itself in us very early in childhood from not living up to parents’ expectations.

As we age, we develop specific personality traits conceived to keep our shame hidden. Whether you know it or not, a big part of your personality generated as a guise to hide the shame living in you — to create a facade so that people won’t see your vulnerability. And, because that shame is buried so deeply inside of us, we often aren’t even aware of what it is or why our personalities are what they are. We say to ourselves, “That’s just who I am,” not understanding that who we think we are is, in good part, a result of the reflection of the negative opinions we hold about ourselves and want to hide.

Many of our clients feel shame about how they have done in life. Wealthy clients may feel ashamed that they are not wealthy enough; less fortunate clients may be embarrassed at their misfortune; frugal clients may not want to pay fees because they are ashamed of being taken advantage of in the past. Each person has his or her own shame story. The thing we have to remember when giving seminars or meeting with clients is that no one is exempt from shame and that their shame is driving a good part of how they will or will not work with us.

As financial professionals we need and want appointments. Yet many people whom we could help will not make appointments with us because they are ashamed of their personal circumstances and don’t want to share them with a stranger, or with anyone for that matter. What to do?

When you see a landmine, something that could disrupt or blow up working successfully with a client, you must put that issue on the table and work with your client to diffuse it. I bring up shame about finances fairly often during my seminars and once again when I am asking for appointments at the end of the seminars. As you will see, we can’t deal directly with shame, but we can position parts of our conversations in a way that deals with shame, and do so without explicitly naming shame as the target. It sounds something like this:
    Folks, everyone sitting here has a big or small financial house. To me, it doesn’t matter. What I know is that you worked all your life to have what you have and that every nickel of what you have is important to you. That’s why I don’t do what a lot of other financial professionals do and insist you have a minimum amount of assets to work with me. I find that very disrespectful. To work with me, you could have very little or a lot; it doesn’t matter, as long as you are sincere in wanting to do better than you are doing now. If you think I can help you, I would be honored to work with you.
This is a theme I repeat over and over again during my talks and in my meetings. It is the theme of respect and appreciation for each person’s story, and it is meant to inform the client that they are safe with me, no matter their circumstances or feelings about their circumstances. To help people bypass their shame and move into action, they must feel that their feelings are safe from criticism and judgment. I reinforce this feeling of safety whenever I can.

See also: Truth, trust and the masks we wear

At the end of the seminar, I continue to reinforce the fact that my client’s feelings are safe with me when I’m asking for people to make an appointment to see me. In fact, I go a little further:
    Folks, as I told you at the beginning of the seminar, my goal is to give you an opportunity to get to know me and get to know how I work with folks just like you. At this point, I’d like to ask you to do three things.

    First, please take out the registration sheet, making sure you’ve put in your name and other information. Again, please give me your email. We don’t use it to bother you with advertising, but I do send out other information about the markets and financial strategies that I believe you will find helpful.

    Next, I’d like you to ask yourself this question: 'Is it worth an hour of my time to see if Steve can help me do better than I am doing today, give me more confidence about the future or more peace of mind?'

    If the answer is no you won’t hurt my feelings. We’ve spent some good time together and perhaps I might be a worthwhile visit for you in the future. If the answer is yes, then I’d like you to check off your best day and time on the registration sheet. Then when Nicole comes around to pick up these sheets, she has my schedule and will do her very best to get you in to see me at that time. She will also give you an appointment package.

    Oh, just one more thing, if you think I can be of help but you think you don’t have enough money, I want you to know that as long as you sincerely want to do better, I will do everything I can to help you, whether you have a lot of money or a little bit of money. I understand how hard you’ve worked for the assets you have and how important your money is to you; so, regardless of your circumstances, if you reach out to me, you will get the very best treatment I give all my clients. So, don’t let the fact that you perhaps have not done as well as you would have liked in the past, or maybe not as well as someone else, keep you from working with me.
By giving people the deepest level of respect for whatever they have accomplished in their lives, you are, in a sense, telling them that they are OK just the way they are and that you are a safe person with whom they can discuss their situation. By addressing shame, even those people who have little shame with regards to their money will be more motivated to make appointments with you because they will see the level of your sincerity, openness, care and respect that you have for others and want that same care and respect for themselves. Put client shame on your landmine list and watch your appointments soar.

See also: Discover 4 little secrets to generating many high-quality leads and appointments
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