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The power of words: What you say determines if clients listen or ignore your advice

Antoinette Tuscano

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Easy analogies and examples for explaining insurance and financial planning.

Two often-used words that scare clients away

In the financial services profession, “we’re actually very guilty of using terminology that creates a negative perception on the part of the clients. And what the client perceives is all-important,” said Chris Unwin, a coach and trainer for financial advisors.

Once the client starts shutting out what you’re saying, they won’t commit to you as their advisor, Unwin said.

The first word to drop from your client meeting vocabulary, surprisingly for those who sell insurance, is the word “insurance.”

“When was the last time someone jumped for joy when you mentioned insurance? Not very common, is it?” Unwin asked in his 2019 MDRT Global Conference presentation. “So do yourself a favor and don’t use ‘insurance.’ Use the word ‘protection’ instead. It doesn’t have the same negative connotation.”

By using different words, you create a different perception. Turn the conversation into a fantastic opportunity to talk about personal protection. Clients then can buy a personal protection package instead of several insurance policies. “It’s a lot more positive,” he said.

Another word that’s sure to lose a client’s interest, especially those younger than 35, is “disability,” Unwin said. Right or wrong, that’s where the client tunes you out. Instead, try talking about illnesses and accidents. This will feel much more relevant, and they’ll keep paying attention to what you have to say.

“When we talk to clients about products, we need to be talking to them about what products do for them, not what they are. In other words, we want to focus on the benefits, not the nuts and bolts,” Unwin said.

Questions that build better financial futures

Questions are powerful. They allow financial advisors to understand clients and their loved ones better and, therefore, create better-protected financial futures for them. Questions also can evoke a moment of discovery when clients see financial risks they were previously unaware of. This awareness can allow clients to be more open to your advice.

Try these questions to help clients understand the need to build a protected financial future with you.

“Let’s assume I am talking to a business owner,” explained Matthew Charles Collins, a 16-year MDRT member from Mona Vale, New South Wales, Australia. “I will ask the following: ‘One day, because of death, disability or retirement, you will exit your business. Do you have a business exit strategy? How, specifically, do you plan to get the capital out of your business in the event of your death or disability?’”

When talking about estate planning, Brian H. Ashe, CLU, a 49-year member and 2000 MDRT President, from Lisle, Illinois, asks, “What percentage of estate reduction is acceptable for you? How did you arrive at the amount of life insurance you currently have? Is that amount still valid, based on current income and debt?”

Easy analogies for explaining financial advising

Sometimes clients don’t fully understand the value of life insurance or other financial products that protect their future income. When that happens, one method is to compare it to something they do understand, such as a police officer or the dentist.

Twelve-year MDRT member Kei Yamasaki, of Tokyo, Japan, tells clients that police officers and life insurance are very similar. People want police to be there just in case something goes wrong — just like life insurance.

Guy Munro Mankey has a different approach. “When clients ask me what I do, I say I’m a financial dentist and I smile sweetly,” said Mankey, an 18-year MDRT member from North Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

“That always elicits the question from them, ‘What do you mean?’ And my response is, ‘You know what it’s like to go to the dentist. Is it something you enjoy?’”

Clients say they hate it, but then Mankey asks how they feel after all the work is done and they leave the dentist’s office. “Everybody says they love it. There’s no more pain and it just feels fantastic,” Mankey said.

He follows up with, “We do the same with insurance. I know nobody wants to talk to anyone about insurance, but when we’re finished, clients tend to walk out of our office saying, ‘Wow! I’m so glad that’s done. It’s fantastic, and now we can move forward properly.’”

Clients always have a great feeling knowing they’re going to be looked after in the future. So, we’re their financial dentist, Mankey said.

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