Psychology of a prospect
By Rodney Ballance
The Financial Leadership Academy
Over the past 20-plus years in the insurance and financial services industry, I’ve noticed that there are three categories into which all current and potential clients fall. Once an agent or advisor realizes which category someone relates to the most, they will understand how to proceed with the first and subsequent meetings.
Most financial advisors today never really take the time to understand people as it relates to finance, let alone why they do the things they do or how they feel about certain products. Those advisors who do take the time to understand — and more importantly the time to connect with — these potential clients have long lasting and lucrative relationships with them.
These agents also recognize when not to work with certain individuals who may pose potential troubles in the future because of medical or family situations. Examples may be when a lady comes to you wanting you to set up an account for her without her spouse knowing about it. Later you find out it’s the major sticking point in a nasty divorce case where you’ve been subpoenaed to testify.
Another example is just what happened to our colleague Glenn Neasham in California.
What makes the difference between a sales person trying to sell a product, and one who earns the trust and respect of the clients is simple. It has everything to do with how the person feels the advisor understands them. In fact, it has everything to do with how well everyone involved believes you understand the goals and needs of the client.
Bringing on a new client is like a marriage. You don’t just marry that one person. You marry the entire family and all the baggage that goes along with it.
When I adopted these principles, in addition to our marketing strategies, I went from a pretty good producer to the no. 1 agent in life insurance sales in the entire country for the company where I worked in 2007. I will share exactly what you need to know to be the best in your company.
As I mentioned earlier, there are three categories in which potential clients fall:
No. 1: Complacent
This person is of the opinion that good things never happen to them, so why try? They are often deep in debt and can rarely make time to schedule an appointment for anything of substance.
These are typically males who are only in your office because their wife made them go. People who fall into this category will never see the value in long-range planning, and therefore will most likely fall for an easy fix solution, such as “buy term and invest the difference.” People like Dave Ramsey have made millions marketing to this crowd because they will fall for anything as long as it doesn't require much effort on their part.
When dealing with the complacent, you must connect with them where they are mentally. For example, find out what is the most important thing in the world to him. Don’t assume it’s his hobby — actually ask the question.
The complacent will, when forced, come to reality for short periods of time. You will not be able to hold their attention spans for long when it relates to financial matters, but you can get it with straightforward questions in the presence of their spouse. No. 2: Confused
This person truly wants to do good things with their financial future, but they are paralyzed with fear and confusion. They don’t know who to trust, or to what information they should listen.
Both men and women equally fall into this category. They believe that no one wants to help them because they really don’t have much in the way of assets. They hear people at work discussing various ideas and things they heard from one source or another, but it becomes almost like white noise to them after a while, simply adding to the uncertainty.
People in this category are basically overloaded with information, both bad and good. Without guidance and qualified assistance they will follow the path of friends and co-workers and hope for the best.
Much like the complacent, these people also tend to fall for the one-size-fits-all philosophies and never realize their true financial potential. These people can be taught, but it takes more work to earn their trust because they have heard all the horror stories about insurance and are on their guard for the salesman.
Interestingly, the confused often pay close attention to the complex person — the third type — at work because they seem to be confident in their message, and often brag about their ability to beat the market. Gaining a positive relationship with someone in the complex area will eventually gain you an audience with many who fall into the confused category.
No. 3: Complex
This person already “knows it all,” and wants to make an appointment with you so he can tell you about it. You are viewed as a potential conquest for this person. These individuals have typically seen some success in day trading or utilizing mutual funds for an average return that has outperformed the markets.
This person has just enough knowledge to make him dangerous. He buys videos and attends seminars to pick up tricks of the trade, and advises everyone at work as to what they should do with their money.
At first glimpse, this is the last person you want to work with, right? Wrong.
This person, because of his influence with others, could be your best source of referrals, if you can figure out how to connect with him. How valuable would it be for you if he goes to work and says, “I just found the greatest advisor to work with me on my financial future?”
Understanding what makes people tick has been a focus of mine for my entire adult life. As a young police officer, (before my career in finance) I learned that the very difference between life and death could be my ability to effectively communicate and connect with people.
I took various psychology courses, and I learned what worked and what didn’t. In fact, because of my ability to effectively connect with others, I was able to convince the brother of an escaped murderer to tell me where he was hiding.
One day I was on routine patrol and happened to stop a car for running a stop sign. It turned out that the driver of the car had the same last name as an escaped murderer we had been told to be on the lookout for. I engaged the gentleman in conversation and learned that he was the brother of the murderer we were looking for. I told the gentleman that I was an old friend of his brother’s from high school (I was in uniform after stopping him for running a stop sign). I convinced him that I hadn’t seen his brother in years, and would love to catch up with his brother to talk about old times.
Without hesitation, he gladly told me where his brother was, and how long he was staying. He wasn’t at all suspicious that I wanted to go arrest his brother. There were no threats of a ticket or anything else. He freely gave the information I needed because he wanted to help me, without realizing he was putting his brother right back in prison.
Naturally I let the one brother go with a warning for running the stop sign. Then, after several hours of surveillance at the location he gave me during the traffic stop, our team moved in and re-captured the murderer in the back room of a relative’s rental house.
Understanding why people do things is vital to the success of our business. That’s why I developed the ICE system. I teach the public this simple three-step process for planning their financial future. I also use the same acronym for teaching financial professionals how to understand the people they want as clients.
The acronym ICE stands for the three things you must do to develop a strong relationship with the people you want as clients.
Identify what makes them tick. Remember, having one wrong client can often be more disastrous than not having enough good ones.
Connect with people so they want to see you again. Many of us are all too free with what we do for a living. We’re taught by the companies we represent to always be selling.
When people feel like they’re being sold, they will turn you off like a smoking light switch. When they feel you are helping them with something important to them, they will embrace you and give you all the information you need.
Engage others by enhancing their perception of you as a professional. You can’t learn about others when you’re talking about yourself. Position yourself to present your knowledge under favorable circumstances, and be viewed as the portal to the financial world, much like they view their doctor as the portal to the medical world.
When people invite you over to help them with a problem because they value your opinion, you are no longer considered a sales person. Your recommendations will be taken seriously and you will never again have to smile and dial for an appointment with a suspect. Referrals will be plentiful.