When presenting your financial plan and advice to a client, you want them to be in a highly receptive state and eager to listen to you, right?
But the process begins long before you reach this point.
Just recently I had lunch with a friend who was telling me about her latest business project.
She had been hired as part of a small team to build the case for a £40m-plus investment in new IT infrastructure for a local council.
Having spent several months putting together a detailed assessment, it was clear that while the upfront investment was huge, the pay-off was far bigger.
The savings in time, efficiency and money made it a no-brainer.
So, having created a compelling case, the team's next job was to test the water with the end users.
What did they think? How receptive were they?
She had anticipated a warm and enthusiastic response, but what the team got was the complete opposite. The response from most of the people they were presenting to was: "So what?"
Feeling deflated after all the work they had done, my friend and her team got together and reflected.
They realised they had failed the ‘so what?’ test.
Despite their reasons (time, efficiency, money) being sound, these were not important to the end users.
We've all been there, right?
We love our service, so we assume our clients and potential clients will feel the same way.
This is a classic schoolgirl error, yet it is one that many practitioners make.
Clients do not care about financial planning, pensions or investments. These are the vehicle rather than the destination, so why would they?
My friend and her team then went back to the end users and this time they asked questions and they listened.
They discovered that most of the end users were in their jobs because they wanted to make a difference.
This was the driver – their most important value.
So, they showed the end users how the new system would help them make a bigger difference and, consequently, they were far more receptive.
Decades ago, American author and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar said:
“You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.”
The point is that if you want someone to listen to you, then you have to listen to them first. Find out what matters to them at the deepest level.
This is what trusted advisers do.
They invest their time and attention in sincerely getting to know their clients at a deep level so they can help them solve meaningful problems and live better lives.
Do you know what drives each of your clients? What matters most to them in life? Is this a conversation you have with them on a regular basis?
If not, why not?
People love it when you take a genuine interest in them – this because so few people bother to do so.
Most people are primarily self-interested. This opens up a huge opportunity if you are the one person who is willing to give without expecting something back.
Go and invest two hours or more in getting to understand each your clients and potential clients even better. Not with an agenda, just an honest desire to serve.
Is there a better use of your time?