Have you ever had a client tell you that they were not going to go ahead with working with you, yet the reason they give you just doesn’t make any sense?
Invariably your ‘no’ comes in the guise of such famous lines as:
- “The price is too high”. Meanwhile, you are thinking “but I just showed you how to spend X to save Y” (with Y being a multiple of X!).
- “The time isn’t right”. When in reality they, of course, have no time to lose and waiting will just make their position worse.
- “My brother-in-law does what you do and we have decided to see him”. However, you know for a fact he has been unemployed for years.
There is a reason that the word ‘rationalisation’ exists, and at times, that is to try and give a description of the act of giving a rational excuse for an irrational action.
In most cases, when your clients are giving you these reasons for not proceeding it is because there has been a mismatch in their subconscious drivers. This is what I describe in my work with Service Businesses as a Context Mismatch.
A context mismatch occurs when you have not gone deep enough with a client to uncover the key fears or drivers which may directly relate to them being in conflict with your advice to them.
For example, the Financial Adviser who suggests to a client to sell a large shareholding in order to diversify risk and create a more effective portfolio moving into retirement. Yet in this example, the client inherited the shares from their deceased father who always said to him “always buy shares and forget about them”.
Usually, a client does not consciously know they are in context conflict with your advice, and often if asked, they will not be able to answer explicitly with their reasons.
I can tell you, after more than 20,000 client meetings, that they may not tell you consciously but they will always give you clues subconsciously. The trick is to listen more to what is not said, than is said, and to question deeply with compassion… but to do it relentlessly.
1. Bring fear into the light
Most of the time I find that just the simple act of bringing the fear into the light means that it is dispelled. For example, getting the client to admit that they have a sentimental attachment to the shares. (FYI – A sentimental attachment, in this case, means a fear of what their deceased father may think of them.)
2. Give it perspective
For example: “I understand your father passed these shares to you and that you may have a sentimental attachment to them, however, it is my suggestion that your attachment may cause you to make decisions that will impact your ability to achieve your real goals in life.”
3. Re-frame it
By taking the driver’s seat and re-framing it in a positive direction, you can often help your client easily move past such a roadblock. For example: “Your father taught you well the value of not making emotional decisions when it comes to investment. Buying assets like shares and holding onto them for a long time is exactly the principle we are sticking to. Our suggestion is to do exactly that but to be even smarter by diversifying your long-term assets and creating a better tax position. Ultimately, we are working on the same strategy you inherited and just adding to the same principles.”
At the end of the day, in our example, you are dealing with an emotive driver that cannot be dealt with through direct logic. By having these conversations you are now in the position to help the client not just make better money choices but to change their life by learning to live with the hangups they may have inherited along with their assets
This is where real advice lives, as does the ability not just to give a good service but to change lives.
Go deep, have better clients and give them better lives.
P.S. If you would like me to expand on the theory and action you can take to better understand the emotional context of your clients, drop me a line or let me know in the comments…