Picture this: a new client made an appointment with you and comes to see you in your office. So you think: “This client has a financial problem that I probably can solve.” You’re right. But be aware, your client has another problem first. He doesn’t know if he can trust you. So the question is: how do you let your client know that he can trust you, without you saying: “Don’t worry, you can trust me”.
The most important story you will ever tell is, “Who are you and why are you in business?”
Your life is the long version of that story. Everything you have been, done, haven’t done, dreamed of, will do, will be and won’t be….it’s your story. Your ability to influence people is directly related to what those people know (or believe) about who you are. You personally and your financial planning business.
Your attempts to influence others are filtered through people’s judgements about who you are: your trustworthiness, values, ambitions and integrity. The disadvantage a financial planner faces in today’s world, is that people actively protect themselves from external influences. Who can blame them? They can’t afford to do one more thing today; they don’t want to hear of yet another issue that needs their attention or money. In today’s world, influence is actively resisted, not only because people are up to their eyeballs in information. But because cynicism is justifiably at an all time high in the financial services industry.
Chances are that most people would prefer NOT to trust you. If they can treat you as untrustworthy, it makes their life a whole lot easier. So people make up a story (without realizing) that paints you as “ambitious, or greedy, or inexperienced, or dumb”. Anything that justifies not listening. Because listening to you, really listening, might force them to question their current beliefs, change direction or risk failure.
And lots of times those you wish to influence genuinely don’t know you. You are a stranger. In the absence of information people always make up a story to protect themselves from yet someone else who wants something. Incomplete stories are automatically untrustworthy. Humans naturally treat incomplete information with wariness. We tend to fill in the blanks with cautionary tales. Think about it. When your client says: “I need to see you immediately”. Do you make up a good story (“I bet he needs me for some advice”) or does your reaction lean more toward a “Did I do something wrong?” direction.
The rational thing would be to wait until you get more information. But humans aren’t rational. Never have been, never will be. Incomplete information is almost always filled with worst-case scenario stories. We have to do a better job giving people true stories of good intentions, right actions and positive outcomes. True stories build faith in us, our leadership and our future. Faith keeps people doing their best, giving their all and creatively surviving unavoidable trouble.
People don’t want more information. They can’t process the information they already have. What they want is faith in you, your words and your good intentions. We crave personal experiences that build up our faith and if that’s not possible we want true stories that feel like personal experiences.
Lucky for us you ar a good person. A good financial planner. Misunderstood maybe, but positively intended. Your job is to break through the worst-case scenario stories so people can see, at a deeper level, who you really are beneath the surface. People can’t trust someone they don’t know. If you are so professional and so private that no one really knows you, you are making it twice as hard for them to trust you.
That’s why your job is to answer the next questions:
1. Who are you?
2. Why are you in business?
3. What makes you special?
4. What earns you the right to influence?
5. What are your gifts?
Can you tell me and the other readers of the blog Why You Are In Business?
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To your success,
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