What’s your reaction when I suggest cooking a hamburger in your exhaust pipe? If you’re like most, you have an immediate negative reaction. It’s a natural response to something that hasn’t been tried before. The human brain is the guilty party; it’s just protecting us through an ancient process called “danger surfing.” If you understand this concept, you can change the way you do business during “unsafe” times.

Danger surfing takes place when someone is met with the unknown. It’s how we survived from the cave until now. As cave people, our brains constantly scanned the environment for things like the saber-tooth tiger. Now we’re wired to danger surf just about every new idea that comes our way, and it makes it frustrating when we’re trying to introduce a new concept that will actually help a client. Our brains are hard-wired to look for the negative. In fact, there are many more negative receptors in our brains than positive ones. We have to deliberately override negative thoughts with positive ones.

Your clients are danger surfing, especially if they’re stressed out about the market and their portfolios. They’re in a protective mode so any idea that doesn’t fit what they think is safe will be met with a lot of suspicion that is difficult to overcome. If you do a few things, you can get through the fears (call them objections if you like) and move on to doing business.

1. Find pain. Pain is something the danger surfer wants to get away from. If someone is afraid of a dwindling portfolio, they’ll be more afraid if you show them how it might dwindle even further if they continue (or don’t continue) to invest the same way.
2. Create safety. The brain wants stability, and if you can suggest something that will, at the very least, stop the bleeding, clients will sit up and take notice.
3. Give control back. When it feels like someone else is controlling our future and we can’t do anything about it, we have a tendency to get very protective and not do anything. Few like to stay in this do-nothing mode for too long. If someone feels like they can control some aspect of their future, it gives them a sense of forward movement and they’re drawn to it. Give your clients control of something. Don’t let fear of the unknown stifle your business or your clients’ future. Surf the conditions for them and create as safe a path as you can during these tough times.