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Educating Clients Is Not Your Job

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What You Need to Know

  • Knowledge is only useful if put into action.
  • Wisdom is what makes knowledge productive.
  • When a client agrees there is a problem, then present a solution.

I once had an agent partner tell me that he believed his job was to educate his clients. This was his response when I tried to coach him on the importance of having an effective sales process. He believed that if you just educated the client on products and options, they would act on that information.

He had his own “sales” process of educating clients he used for the last 20 years of his career with mediocre results but with enough success to pay the bills and make a decent living. He was coming to me because he wanted to improve his results. Isn’t it interesting how our human nature allows us to know what we need but not receive information that challenges our status quo?

Have you ever known someone smart and not so smart at the same time? That probably describes all of us somehow, but I am sure you have had experiences where you are trying to help someone, and they refuse to help themselves. Knowledge is only useful if put into action. Wisdom is the process of taking knowledge and applying action towards a worthwhile benefit. In other words, wisdom is what makes knowledge productive.

So, in that context, let me ask this question, “Is it wise to educate clients without any compulsion to influence their actions?”

Our best intentions lead us to educate our clients, but the problem is that education without action is a process with no conclusion. I have been in the insurance industry for around three decades, and every day I come to work I am learning something new. There is no end to financial education, not for us and not for our clients. How are we ever going to educate a client enough for them to make their own decisions? What cost are we willing to accept for that process to play out?

In my opinion, that cost is too high. I do not have unlimited time, and neither does the client.  Does that mean that a client should not gain knowledge through the sales process? Of course not! It is not if, but when and how much that matters.

Educating your clients on financial matters before you know how knowledge applies to their situation is like the tail wagging the dog. Your understanding of your clients, their problems, and how those problems need to be solved must come first. This is where you then present a solution to those problems. It is only when a client agrees there is a problem that a solution should be presented. Moreover, only when a client agrees to a numerical solution can education on how that solution was created should be explained. To make my point, education is the tail, not the dog, and the tail should never wag the dog.

In 2010 I developed, what I coined, the Five-Step Sales Process, which I will be covering in detail in a later article. The basic premise of this Five-Step Sales Process is that education is only used to explain how you arrived at a solution. The Five-Step Sales Process requires the client to agree to a problem and a solution that solves that problem. Education before an agreed-upon problem and solution is education without a purpose.

This is a far cry from what I see all too often in this industry. Financial advice can be synonymous with insurance or investment product sales based on features of a product rather than the benefits that provide a solution to a problem. Let us get back to the tail wagging the dog. If you start your sales process with a product, you will never find the problem that needs to be solved. Instead, start your sales process with comprehensive fact-finding. The more you know about the client’s financial situation, the more problems you will find. The more problems you can find, the more solutions you can present. Not only will this sales process put the tail behind the dog, but it will also increase your case size and closure rate.

What I have described is a process that gives financial education a purpose and a conclusion. Educating your client with purpose creates a natural process to get to the tail of the dog, closing a sale. When the client agrees to a problem, likes a solution, and understands how you came up with that solution, they will naturally want to end the sales process with a closed sale. This process makes financial education efficient and effective.


Anthony OwenAnthony Owen is co-founder of Safe Money Radio Marketing, co-host of the Annuity Agents Podcast, and president of Annuity Agents Alliance, a life and annuity wholesaler.

 (Photo: Shutterstock)