3 steps to make Dave Ramsey fans your clients
By Rodney Ballance
The Financial Leadership Academy
Not a week goes by when I don’t hear a life insurance agent complain about the interference of popular financial entertainers like Dave Ramsey or Suze Orman. We all know the message of “buy term and invest the rest” is not always the best course of action for the general public. In fact, many of us have seen the damage done to those following the one size fits all advice.
Unfortunately, the public never realizes the problems with this easy-to-repeat message until they are way too late into their financial plan to be able to take corrective measures in a cost-effective manner. In other words, a 35-year-old man in excellent health buys a 20-year term policy only to find out at age 55 that he has type 2 diabetes, is overweight and of course 20 years older. The combination of these factors makes him uninsurable; also, more permanent measures are often cost-prohibitive.
At age 35, we often don’t see the need for life insurance, because we’re at the top of our game and full of life. We also don’t see the downside of retirement planning, and believe that all we have to do is throw enough money into a mutual fund and we’ll never have to worry about taxes or running out of money.
At age 55, however, we find ourselves thinking much more often about our own mortality and can begin seeing the negative ramifications of years of poor planning, or no planning at all. That causes us to scramble in an effort to correct our ill-advised decisions of younger years. The results are stress, worry and fear of what will become of us and our family for whom we desire to provide.
What if we could have gotten to that person when they were younger, healthier and with the potential for using life insurance as a financial foundation tool instead of simply a “just in case” death benefit? I want to help you get to those people who follow bad advice from Dave Ramsey — and to help you reach them without slamming their hero.
Let’s face it; Dave Ramsey’s fans are loyal to a fault. They love the entertainer and believe everything he says is true because he wraps his misguided financial information in the truth of Biblical scripture. Since most of Ramsey’s cult-like followers are fundamentalist Christians, they would never question anything preached from the Bible. That’s how Ramsey hooks unsuspecting listeners in to his message.
The first step in overcoming any challenge is to understand what the challenge truly is. In this case the challenge isn’t simply debating financial concepts. The challenge is overcoming deeply rooted faith and understanding. Since Ramsey ties his teachings to scripture, in the eyes of his followers, if you dispute his financial teachings you’re actually challenging the Bible itself. In the eyes of a devout Christian, questioning the Bible is blasphemy, an unforgivable sin! This is the primary reason for Ramsey’s success. The big question now becomes: "How do I address the lies wrapped in truth?" The only way to do that is to agree with Ramsey. I know, many of you will never agree with him about anything. Just like in any successful negotiation however, there has to be a series of give and take. I believe there is no issue on Earth that can’t be resolved if all parties would first look for common ground, instead of digging their heels in and focusing solely on their differences.
So let’s look at where we might agree with Ramsey and find the common ground that will allow us to connect with his most loyal followers. Undoubtedly the point we must agree with is his primary focus of getting out of debt. Because his message on debt is directly tied to Biblical teachings like,"The borrower is slave to the lender," we must agree with him or risk never being able to work with those who desire to be debt-free.
Keep in mind that most of the people who listen to entertainers like Ramsey can only see how debt is strangling their future. And because their life is overwhelmed with bills, being debt-free is the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest for them. People can only focus on a goal that seems real to them. Trying to convince someone to save for retirement when they can’t even pay this month’s bills is a waste of your breath, unless you can cause them to see a different way of dealing with those bills first.
One of the most famous sermons Jesus taught was to a crowd of thousands of people in the wilderness. As Jesus looked at the mass of people he noticed they were hungry. When someone is hungry they can’t focus on anything but their hunger. Jesus knew that he would have to feed them physically before he could feed them spiritually. He used fish and bread to feed them before he tried to teach.
That’s exactly how you have to address Ramsey’s fans. You have to remove the barrier of “hunger” for help before you can fill them with the knowledge of finance and economics. So the main question becomes: "What exactly are they hungry for?" They’re hungry to eliminate their debt and be able to someday enjoy their lives. Since debt is like a brick wall that prevents them from seeing a future, you need to paint a very clear picture of how you can help them beat debt.
So, as a life insurance salesperson meeting with a Dave Ramsey follower, are you going to open with your message of how you can help them plan for the future they can’t even imagine having yet? Or will you ask them about their concerns and work to eliminate the barrier which prevents them from even seeing they could have a future different from what they’ve known in the past? Here are three steps to reaching Dave Ramseyites. Step #1: Find common ground within Ramsey’s teachings.
The most prominent common ground is that you can’t make your money work for you until you actually have access to that money. Under Ramsey’s teaching people must send all that money to creditors before they can think of using it for themselves. There are much smarter ways to accomplish this goal.
Step #2: Feed them emotionally, so they listen intellectually.
I’ve heard it said that over 83 percent of all purchases are made based on emotion. We then try to justify those purchases with reason. We can’t deny the power of emotion. Even heinous crimes have been mitigated because they were committed based on raw emotion. When you realize the power of emotion, you realize the power of influence. The emotions people like Ramsey use are fear, anger and desire to belong.
The emotion you have to bring to the surface is anger. You have to gradually point out inconsistencies with Ramsey’s teachings that cause others to realize he is using their faith to sell them what makes him the most money. This will anger the prospect tothe point of wanting you to help them make a change.
Step #3: Continuously encourage them, and get them connected.
One reason Ramseyites are so loyal is because they feel like they are part of the majority. There are many people searching to be a part of something larger than themselves. They embrace a sense of belonging, and what amounts to a society of like believers. Some call this “the church of Ramsey."
You might want to connect them with an organization that teaches and shares the same message you do to address that same sense of belonging. Other groups embraces Christian ideals and a proactive approach to personal finance such as how permanent life insurance and interest sensitive annuities are perfect for the foundation of anyone’s financial portfolio. Oh yeah, and term insurance is an excellent way to cover any short term needs in case of an untimely death.
I hope this brief look into the thoughts and beliefs of Dave Ramsey’s cult-like followers will help you in reaching them with truthful financial concepts. We may not be able to rescue all of these victims of financial entertainers, but you can connect them with true financial educators.