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Retirement Planning > Retirement Investing

The power of asking the right questions (21 of them)

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My last two columns have discussed in detail why it is important for you to learn to ask great questions in a conversational manner.  Many agents have contacted me to say that they have already significantly increased their appointments using only the few questions that I shared in those columns.

It is gratifying to hear that agents are seeing almost immediate success by trying the questions.  If you have not tried them yet, what have you got to lose?  

As promised, this column will be filled with more questions that you should be asking prospects and clients during this era of extreme economic uncertainty. You do not need to take these ideas word for word; they will be more powerful if you tailor them to sound like you.

Remember that the reason we ask questions is to position ourselves as our clients’ advocates, counselors and advisors. Remember this phrase, “Selling is telling and asking is advocating.”

I ask everyone, everywhere, this question: “Do you believe that there will be another financial catastrophe like the one in 2007 and 2008? Just say ‘yes’ or ‘no.’” They always say “yes.” I follow with this question: “Do you want the same thing to happen this time that happened the last time?” They say “no.” I then ask, “What will you do to make sure what happened last time does not happen again?” There is usually a long pause. So I ask, “Why do you continue to use a strategy that you already know does not work?”  

I follow with just a few additional questions, and then I ask for — and almost always get — an appointment. I continue, “Would you like to build more guarantees into your strategy? Even better, would you like to position yourself and your family to take advantage of negative economic circumstances in the future? If there was no cost or obligation, would it be worth 45 to 60 minutes of your time to discover ways to accomplish that?”

Finally, I ask, “Do you want this information before or after the next downturn?”

If you are talking to someone who is not yet a client, ask: “Do you have enough confidence in your current advisor to get a second opinion?” If they say “yes,” I say, “Great! Then I will see you tomorrow at seven.” If they say “no,” I follow with these questions:

“You must have lost some money during the last downturn. Would you like to discover ways to make sure that does not happen again? Even better, would you like to learn strategies to take advantage of those downturns? If there is no cost or obligation, could I see you in the next few days?”

Or try this: “A new study found that in 10 years, 98 percent of your Social Security will be needed to cover health care costs; and in 20 years, 127 percent of your Social Security will be used for health care. May I ask you a question? Where will you get the money for food, clothing and shelter? Would you like to know how you can meet those requirements for a successful retirement?”

I have also made many appointments by asking the following questions: “If interest rates stay in the two to three percent range and the stock market provides level or even negative returns for the next decade, how will you build a successful retirement income?

Do you know how you can achieve that retirement income success using life insurance leverage and longevity credits? Would it be reassuring to know that you can still successfully retire whether the economy recovers or not? Do you want to wait until it is too late or do you want to know now?”

Do not forget the most important question: “When can I come see you to talk about it?”

Your success is literally just a few questions away.

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