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Retirement Planning > Social Security

How to use headlines: Start by asking questions

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Developing great questions can create many more appointments. By using the questions to inspire prospects and clients to take action, those appointments will achieve more successful outcomes.

I often use current financial headlines to develop great questions.  Those questions help my clients identify the planning issues that require immediate consideration.

Recently, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) provided a catchy headline that practically begged you to ask all your clients and prospects about it.  It read, “Americans now pay more in taxes than for food clothing and housing combined.”

It was in all the papers, so you could find multiple examples to use. I like to select both a national newspaper and a more local newspaper.

Now, before you use the information, you have to determine whether it is true and whether it is portrayed accurately. I admit that, at first, I was confused by this headline. Remember, about 50 percent of Americans do not pay income taxes, so for them, the information does not apply. This headline really only applies to the top 20 percent of wage earners in our country. Understanding this information helps to formulate very powerful questions. I will return to that statement later.

So, what did the CBO mean when they released this information? They were looking at these numbers as a percentage of our country’s total gross domestic product (GDP). Taxes are a larger portion of our GDP than food, clothing and housing combined. They were looking at these numbers as they pertained to the entire country, rather than to individuals.

Many politicians and financial celebrities discussed the information as if it applied to every American. It is not necessary to misrepresent the information; it still has magnificent power when portrayed accurately. It will inspire your prospects and clients to take immediate action.

Start by asking questions that are broad in nature and are about our country, rather than individuals:

  • Do you think our country’s expenses will be higher in the future?

  • With most baby boomers retiring between 2022 and 2029, will Social Security and Medicare costs increase dramatically?

  • If health care costs continue to double approximately every 10 years, isn’t Medicaid going to become an enormous cost?

  • With increasing world turmoil and terrorism concerns, will our country continue to spend more on the defense budget?  

  • Will there be much growth to offset these huge and growing costs?

  • Do you believe taxes will be higher in the future? Could they be way higher? Do you want to pay them?

  • Won’t Americans need a more efficient strategy to save for the future if more and more money will be needed by governments to provide services?

  • How much longer can you afford to wait?

Now, if you wish to become more personal, ask a few more questions to that 20 percent who actually do pay more in taxes than they do for food, clothing and housing:

  • When you worked, saved, invested and lived within your means, was it your intention that the primary beneficiary of your hard work would be the IRS?

  • Did you realize that without proper planning, the government could take even more? Are you OK with that?

  • Are you going to leave things that way?

Many people do not realize this is happening. With just a few questions, you bring this information to their attention. And your message will be reinforced each day when they read the morning newspaper.

That is how I use headlines. Try it. You will be surprised at how quickly you will find success.


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