Business is simple; people make it complicatedArticle added by Paul Mallett on June 17, 2014
Paul M Mallett

Paul Mallett

Defiance, OH

Joined: September 27, 2012

Business is simple; people make it complicated.

A former colleague of mine said that to me years ago, and I had no idea at the time how right he was. When it comes down to it, the basic ideas behind the products and strategies most of us recommend are not all that hard for people to understand. Sure, the details can get complicated, but for the most part, the concepts of safe money, tax management, asset preservation and legacy planning are pretty simple to grasp and, dare I say it, rational.

So if these ideas are so simple and rational, why do so many of us cite prospecting as our greatest challenge?

In a word, people.

In one scene from the movie "Men In Black," Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith are discussing the fact that there have been aliens all around us here on Earth for years, but the government keeps that information from the public. Smith’s character asks why the government doesn’t just tell people about the aliens. After all, people are smart. They can handle it.

Jones’ character responds, “A person is smart. People are stupid.”

That might be a little harsh, but he makes an interesting point and it’s something to keep in mind as we engage with our prospects. Like it or not, a good number of your clients and prospects are strongly influenced by the herd. They look to the safety of conventional wisdom to overcome fear, uncertainty and mistrust.
    “This sounds like a good approach, but if it’s so good, why isn’t everyone doing it?”

    “The guy on the radio says to buy term and invest the rest. They wouldn’t allow him on the radio if he didn’t know what he was talking about.”

    “My brother-in-law says mutual funds are the only way to build wealth and secure a comfortable retirement.”

    “There’s an entire industry built around investing in the market. There are dedicated television networks, thousands of how-to books, online trading sites and brokers on practically every corner. Are you telling me they’re all wrong and you’re right?”
How does an advisor cut through all of that noise and encourage people to think for themselves? How do we at least get people to keep an open mind and make their own decisions based on what best fits their unique situation?

Make them comfortable

Stay away from the hard sell. Prospects can easily detect the stench of desperation. Focus on helping them first. Remind them this is their money you’re talking about, and only they can decide how to spend or invest it. Make it clear they have the option of walking away if they feel your proposed solution is not for them. If your recommendations won’t stand up to that kind of no-strings-attached presentation, you need to reevaluate either your solution or your prospecting process.
Ask great open-ended questions

Everyone has a story, and most are looking for an opportunity to share it. Don’t let things get too carried away, but ask questions that are not answered with a simple yes or no. Instead of asking only “do you” “have you” or “would you” questions, ask plenty of “how” “what” and “why” questions. You’ll learn more about their true concerns and needs, and you’ll build a better relationship along the way.

Become a trusted resource

Never do anything that would compromise the clients' trust in you. It’s just not worth it. Keep your promises. Trust can be so difficult to earn, but so easy to lose. Teach your prospects something they didn’t already know. I talk a lot about finding your niche, and this is one of the reasons why. Become an expert at something. If you do that well, prospects will find you! If a client asks about something in one of your weaker areas, be honest with them. Tell them you don’t know, but you know where to find out. Your better clients will come to appreciate that.

Show them how you help people just like them

One of the most important questions your prospects are asking, whether they admit it or not, is “Why should I trust you?” There are several ways to help with that: professional certifications, advanced degrees and solid data to back up your recommendations, but most importantly, client testimonials. If you can prove to your prospect that you are helping other people just like them, you will have a much better chance of breaking them away from the herd. Think about it. They’re sticking with the herd for safety. You’re just moving them to another herd, and hopefully one that’s a better fit for them.

Know when to fold ‘em

Sometimes, you just have to live for another day. There are some folks who are so deeply entrenched in the herd you may never break them away. In those cases, smile and walk away as friends. You have better prospects to help anyway, and who knows? They may be so baffled when you agree your solution is probably not for them that they may just chase you to the door. I’ve seen it happen.

Finally, develop a passion for what you do. If you want to succeed in this or any profession, you have to love what you do. Life is too short not to. You have to really believe in your product. That kind of enthusiasm, when sincere, is contagious. People want to be around others that are positive, energetic and who show a true concern for their welfare.

That’s not so complicated, is it?
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