- Communications have to be a combination of left-brain logic and right-brain emotion to make sure that you are reaching most clients and engaging them fully.
- If your clientele is aging (as all are), you will have to move your message away from left and more to the right.
“But my clients are smart people”
This has nothing to do with whether your clientele consists of PhDs and professional investors. Even the brightest minds tend to shut down when presented with left-brain information when they do not want to spend any time thinking about it.
In order for clients to actively listen to you and to use fluid intelligence to process what you say, they must be emotionally engaged in the conversation. All that means is that you want them to be thinking about what you are saying and running it through their internal thought process.
This doesn’t happen automatically. In fact, the older the client, the harder it is to turn on that switch that engages fluid thinking. This isn’t a function of intelligence as much as it is a function of resonance.
Unfortunately, crystallized thinking gets in the way of your client’s becoming engaged. A client who thinks he or she already understands what you are saying or who has no real interest whatsoever will move into “crystallized thinking mode.” There is very little learning that occurs when a client is in this state.
Turning the switch on
The best way to resonate with a client is to gear your information to “what’s in it for me?” The client has to understand immediately why he or she should listen to you or start fluid intelligence. You can make that happen by connecting the dots for the client and approaching his or her right brain first.
The right-brain approach is to tie financial planning or investment management information to clients’ life needs, goals, concerns and opportunities.
For this reason, effective discovery — the ability to ask questions that get the client to think about life issues that will engage the right brain — is the key skill of the new wealth advisor.
If clients understand that your entire process is directed at helping them deal with their life issues, they will be more likely to be engaged when you present left-brain concepts such as investment management, insurance protection and tax planning.
Your initial approach of focusing on those life issues is a lot like setting up a container in which to place the products you will ultimately use. The right-brain approach provides context for any left-brain discussion or strategy.
Implementing the right-brain approach
Here are some ways that you can make your communications more right-brain:
- Try to understand life issues in discovery before starting your financial discovery.
- Keep asking good questions that help your client move out of crystallized-thinking mode and into emotional contemplation.
- Position yourself as a right-brain advisor who uses left-brain tools to accomplish the client’s goals. For example, “I am a coach, an educator and a catalyst for my clients,” rather than “I am an investment advisor, an insurance specialist or a tax planner.”
- In your discussions, make good use of stories, analogies and metaphors to illustrate left-brain concepts. That approach has made respected gurus like Warren Buffett, Sir John Templeton and Peter Lynch easy to understand and relate to.
- Start redefining your service offering in terms of what you do rather than how you do it (left brain). For example, “we help clients protect their lifestyle, plan for the future, create legacies, help their family and achieve financial comfort,” rather than “we provide investment advice and life insurance.”
If your communications approach involves your client emotionally, you can use that to differentiate yourself from other advisors, as well as to reinforce your wealth advisor brand.
Next month, I am going to focus on some of the impediments to client communications and how the wealth advisor can increase his or her effectiveness in “keeping the switch on.”
Barry LaValley is president of the LifeFirstApproach. He works with advisors to help them communicate more effectively with their clients, prospects and COIs. His programs can be accessed through his site or through the CH.P. (Strategic Wealth) designation at the Canadian Securities Institute. He can be reached through his website at www.lifefirstapproach.com.