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Steer clients on the right path

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I am excited about 2013, because it is such an important time for our industry. Stressed out clients will face the fiscal cliff. Our job, as always, is to be a guide, showing them the way to navigate this rocky path.

But we play many other roles as well. Our job is to be a confidant. Did they lose money during the previous financial crisis? Do they think there is another one brewing? Do they trust the government to take care of them? What are they worried will happen to their family? Do they have a plan to protect themselves this time? We are the only people with the skills and knowledge to help them develop one.

So after we talk about higher taxes and lower benefits and serious inflation and ever increasing volatility, I say, “Wow! This all really sounds bad doesn’t it? May I ask you a few questions?”

Has our country faced bad economic times before?

Did some people make money during those times, even during the Great Depression?

Were those successful people the ones who planned or the ones who just let things happen to them?

Which one do you want to be and when do you want to get started?

So our job is also to be a counselor: We must show them that not only can they take steps to protect their family from these financial catastrophes, but they can also position themselves to benefit from them. It is not too late, if they get started right now. They are afraid, and we can give them peace of mind.

Move toward opportunity

Most importantly, our job is to be a cheerleader: Instead of focusing on the negative potential for loss, we can change their mindset to focus on the positive opportunity for gain. Clients resist or even deny bad news, but they will move toward opportunity. You can motivate them to make a positive difference in their life.

This is so important; I can’t talk about it enough. I ask during timeouts of the Packers versus Viking football game. I ask during halftime at the Bucks basketball game. I ask when I am waiting in line at the movies, at dinners and playing golf. I believe you get the picture.

But remember to ask for their opinion, don’t tell them yours. Everyone is interested in the financial crisis, and most people have an intuitive sense about what is happening. But they aren’t sure how it will affect them or don’t trust their instincts. By asking questions, you reinforce that they understand the severity of the situation. They just haven’t done any planning; they don’t have a strategy for how to deal with it.

But they are so smart that they thought to call you — their guide, their confidant, their counselor, their cheerleader.

For more from Van Mueller, see:

Get in touch with your feminine side

Why insurance matters

Sell where your feet are