by I was having lunch with a colleague yesterday whose expertise is in life insurance. He couldn’t understand why his prospects wouldn’t agree to have their life insurance policies reviewed. After all, this was a free review, he added, and the time spent on reviewing the details was on his nickel.
Many financial professionals, including my lunch buddy, suffer from the curse of knowledge.
This “curse,” described by authors Chip Heath and Dan Heath in their book Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, refers to the concept that the more you know about a subject, the harder it is to communicate your knowledge to someone who knows nothing about the topic.
I used to have the same problem. I was trained at one of the largest wealth management firms in the world. I have a of Financial Planning Certificate; I am a Certified Wealth Strategist and have over a dozen years of experience creating comprehensive financial plans. But despite my vast knowledge, what I’ve discovered can be summarized in a few words:
“People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” (Author and speaker, John Maxwell.)
Think about the implications of this quote. Most people will not listen to every “expert” they meet, especially regarding complex topics such as life insurance, until they feel like their needs are being prioritized.
Spouting off things like “Mortality tables have changed over the years because people are living longer, which has resulted in lower premiums,” will not resonate with the listener. It’s jargon. The listener will be left thinking—Can I trust this person? Is what they’re saying true? Will I get hurt financially? What will they do with the confidential details on my insurance contract? The list goes on.
How did I change my ways? I leaned on my Arts Education background. I learned that things like music resonated with the heart, and I also wanted to speak to the heart. So I simplified my approach and made my conversations with clients as jargon-free as possible.
My buddy could also change his approach by focusing the conversation on the listener and their needs instead of talking about all that he knows. He might see more success if he explained–in simple terms–the purpose for having one’s life insurance policy reviewed. For him, better questions to ask prospective clients might be:
Has anything changed in your life since you took the policy out? Does the policy still fit your needs? Do you understand how the policy works? Do you know what age range the policy actually covers?
In other words, trying to develop a conversation that shows your genuine care and interest in the client is a lot more effective than leading with “I can save you money.” Do you see the difference between a client-centered conversation versus a me-centered monologue?
However, this is a lot harder to do for financial professionals. It takes a lot more effort, time, and skill to win a client’s trust and prove to them that you authentically care. Becoming an active listener is crucial–a skill in short supply these days.
There are no short-cuts or cunning tricks to winning a client’s trust and showing genuine care. But without taking the time to build this foundation, you will keep scratching your head, wondering why prospective clients won’t listen past the first line of your polished speech.