It’s more important to motivate than to inform

An advisor I am working with is rolling out some new tools and we were running through how to explain them to clients. He struggled with an obstacle I see many advisors encounter.

The explanation walk-through shows how he came to use the new process. It addressed how it would change the services the advisor provides. He described some of the steps he will ask clients to go through. It was not going particularly well.

Side note: when there is a conversation you anticipate you will use frequently, rehearse. When you believe in the value of something it is easy to convince yourself you will be “good in the moment.” You won’t be. Run through the conversation a few times with someone who can help – a coworker, a coach, your spouse – when there is nothing at stake. Fix it, improve it, and get it right.

What was missing? The benefit to the client. This technology helps clients understand their relationship to money and how they are wired to make financial decisions. It’s a big deal. That should lead. It didn’t even appear.

Why would this client be motivated to embrace this new tool? Had we not worked on it, clients would agree because of the trust they have in the advisor. Once in the process, the power of the tool would become apparent. But he could do better. And he needs to do better because eventually he will have conversations about this improvement to his service with prospects and centers of influence. Would someone be inspired to work with this advisor after hearing about this new tool? Not if presented this way. And that’s a shame, because the tool is revolutionary and carries the possibility of changing clients’ lives.

What went wrong? The advisor forgot or misunderstood the goal of the communication. He assumed his responsibility was to inform. It is not. Your top communication goal with clients, most of the time, is to motivate.

You want to bring about positive change. You want to help people succeed. You want to attract more clients and referrals. Being better informed may contribute to those goals. But what’s required is for people to take action. And action requires motivation.

Clients can get information on the Internet. They need you to persuade them. To stimulate action. In his desire to inform, my coaching client forgot to discuss the benefits of undertaking this new process. There is a real possibility it may change their relationship with money. It may have a significant impact on their marriage by enabling them to discuss finances with their spouse incorporating insights about each other they never had.

When your goal is to inform, you discuss the details. If it is to motivate, you talk about outcomes and benefits.

We tried approaching it from that direction. It took a few revisions, but once we reoriented the presentation around what it could mean to clients, and the effect it could have on their lives, it was dramatically more powerful. The advisor felt much better about delivering it. The offer was much more attractive.

Whenever you communicate with clients, keep their goals in mind. I hear many advisors describe their desire to create peace of mind. No advisor has ever told me their goal is to have the best-informed clients around. Peace and confidence arise from a belief that you are making the right choices. Help motivate them to do the right thing. It will work out better for both of you.

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