Heads I win, tails you lose

You are a trained and licensed professional and have 95 percent more knowledge about financial guidance, choices and products than your clients or prospects. If your clients followed exactly what you advised, they would typically make more money with less frustration. However, trust, fear and other emotions block their ability to just let go and let you guide them. Assuage their fears and concerns by leading them to the best choices for their portfolio.

We make decisions by our brain eliminating the obvious choices that we don't want. Fewer choices (with at least one really bad option thrown in) will surely help move your client along your chosen path for their best interest.

Ideally you should give your clients the power to choose between "yes" and "yes" instead of "yes" and "no." But be very careful not to overload them with too many options or choices.

Realize that the power of the herd is a tough current to swim against. People like being in the middle when in unchartered waters or situations. Think about your first few trips through a haunted-house carnival ride and how you didn't want to be the first in your group in that huddled mass (and certainly not the last) as you passed through those dimly lit halls and around horrifying blind corners. Hopefully your clients won't equate your practice with a house-of-horrors thrill ride, but you get the idea.

On your website or during the wrap-up of a presentation provide the choice of offers with "our most popular article" or "most downloaded article." Or in a live close, say "most of my senior clients seem to prefer this choice" or "the majority of my baby boomer clients who do not like to risk losing money select this choice," but followed up with "but you are totally free to make the best choice for you." And then give them the power to choose either "yes" or "yes."

One word of caution: the boomers are pretty savvy, and those 1950s-era, old-school close techniques of "Would you prefer to meet next Friday or Monday? I'm available either day..." can really send a great initial meeting south fast. Cushion it with phrases that explain why you would prefer to meet again at a given time because "your son's first game is the day before" or "Grandma's birthday is that afternoon, and I'd like to meet with you before." While this may appear irrelevant, these revealing comments about your personal life give you more character and show your prospect a human "real" side not typically shown in a sales interaction.

Now let's flip that coin...

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Michael Ham is a financial planning expert and personal budget coach. He is the founder and president of My Money Track and founder of J. Michaels Advisors in Dallas.

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