Chris Unwin ‘Chrisisms’

This is the third instalment in our ‘Chrisisms’ series of short, sharp messages from respected industry contributor, Chris Unwin...

Professionals Practice; Amateurs Ad Lib

Are you ‘winging it’ with clients? When you meet a potential client for the first time, do you go into that meeting with a high predictability of outcome or do you just keep your fingers crossed and hope it pans out the way you want? The difference between the two will be your level of preparedness.

When I first joined the life insurance business back in 1978 in London, I was incredibly lucky to stumble across a company that had an incredibly structured client engagement process. Every single part of the process was carefully thought out and designed to make it as easy as possible for a prospect to come on board as a client.

Even as a brand new adviser with no sales experience or knowledge of financial services, I felt totally confident when sitting in front of someone because I had been given a track to run on and I knew exactly what I was seeking to achieve at every step of the way. Knowing clearly what my role was and exactly how to convey the necessary messages meant that I could focus on the most important thing, which was what the person sitting in front of me was saying to me rather than what I was going to say to them next.

I was given so many scripts when I first joined the business and I soon realised that the key was to understand what messages the scripts were conveying and then make sure it was me speaking and using my own words to convey the same messages rather than just me spouting someone else’s words. Also remember it’s not what you say but how you say it that’s important, given that “voice tonality” is 5 or 6 times as important as the words you are saying when communicating verbally with someone.

The outcomes of client meetings will largely depend on how prepared you are when going into the meeting and the more you practice your part, the less likely you are to fluff your lines, and that is why professionals practice and amateurs ad lib.

Needs Analysis V Wants Analysis

Nearly 20 years ago I made one small change to my client engagement process and it has revolutionised my business.

As a result of that change, I have not done a needs analysis on any of my risk clients for the last 20 years. However, that does not mean that I have not done any analysis at all – it means that I have moved away from doing a needs analysis and embraced the concept of doing a wants analysis instead.

What this has enabled me to do is to turn what used to be a grudge purchase (or at best an expensive necessity) into a fantastic opportunity for my clients. Helping my clients focus on what they want has created a totally different  dynamic than when I was addressing their needs.

The major difference between a wants analysis and a needs analysis is that a wants analysis is starting at the top of the mountain and skiing down (due to affordability), whereas a needs analysis is starting at the bottom of the mountain and trying to ski up, which my skiing friends tell me is a lot harder and much less fun!

The key thing for you to understand about a wants analysis is that our role becomes that of helping our clients verbalise what they would want in certain specific “what if” situations – not in terms of types and levels of cover (because how would they know?), but in terms of financial outcomes. Once we know what (financial) outcomes our client would want, we can then use our expertise to put together an appropriate combination of types and levels of cover which are specifically designed to achieve the financial outcomes our client has told us they want.

Quite apart from this being a much more client-friendly approach, what it is also doing is putting a huge tick in the “appropriateness of advice” box, because what could possibly be more appropriate than recommending the types and levels of cover that are specifically designed to achieve the financial outcomes your client has told you they want?

Make the change – you won’t regret it!

Chris Unwin is a financial adviser of 37 years standing and has been a specialist risk adviser for the last 22 years. His training and consulting business has operated for 12 years and it specialises in helping advisers across the full spectrum of experience with their client engagement skills, both in the risk advice specific space as well as in the more generic soft skills space.

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