Why SMALL Steps Have a BIG Impact on Your Financial Planning Prospects


It’s okay. You can admit it.

When you ask yourself how many prospects you really have for your financial planning business, you mostly tell yourself an exaggerated story.

Why? Because the real answer might be embarrassing.

You keep meaning to work on getting more people interested in your financial planning service – and you’ve read plenty of tips on how to do it – but in truth, your prospect-list has barely changed.

Unfortunately, when different experts give you contrasting tips, you can struggle to know which tip to follow.

Fortunately, surefire, simple and scientifically proven shortcuts exist. And no one has probably told you about them.

Let’s talk about scientific proof first.

Scientists who studied the persuasion process have consistently revealed a simple, yet remarkable truth when it comes to effectively influencing others to do business with you. Here’s the secret right off the bat:

Often it’s the SMALLEST change that makes the BIGGEST difference for your success

A study by behavioral scientists shows that the difference-quantity depends on how much progress you make in the early stages.

I’ll explain by giving you an example.

In one study customers in a sushi restaurant were given a loyalty card and told that they would receive a free lunch for every 10 purchases they made.

There were two types of customers. One group that made little progress by buying one or two lunches. And another group who made lots of progress by buying six or seven lunches at once.

It turns out that customers who made a small amount of initial progress by buying lunch just for themselves, were twice as likely to return to the restaurant if they focused on the progress they made toward the free lunch.

However, those customers who made a lot of initial progress – perhaps because they bought lunch for themselves and a group of friends – were more likely to return if their attention was focused on the progress that remained to get the free lunch.


Because people tend to be more motivated to complete a goal when their focus is directed towards the SMALL area. Whether that SMALL area concerns the progress already made, or the effort that remains.

Let me repeat that because it’s important:

People tend to be more motivated when their focus is directed towards the SMALL area

To prove this statement I recommend this cool 5-minute animation video from persuasion-master Dr. Robert Cialdini, where he tells vividly about the SMALLEST change that makes the BIGGEST difference:

And if you really want to dig in deep, here’s the link to the book: The Small Big: Small Changes That Spark Big Influence

So, I asked myself:

What’s the SMALLEST change financial planners can make, that has the BIGGEST impact on their number of prospects?

I’ll tell you about that in a minute. Because – although a bit painful – we have to acknowledge these 3 mistakes when it comes to attracting prospects.

Mistake #1: You’re telling your prospects about reaching their goals

Here’s a definition of a goal according to Wikipedia: “A goal is a desired result that a person envisions, plans and commits to achieve. A personal desired end-point in some sort of assumed development.”

Now, what do the words desired, envisions, plans, achieve, end-point, development all have in common?

Those words focus on the far, far future. They focus on the long-term, on the end.

And guess what you’ve learned a couple of sentences ago:

People tend to be more motivated when their focus is directed towards the SMALLEST step

That’s why, if you want to motivate your prospects, you shouldn’t focus on their goals at first. Because it’s way too big of a leap for them in this early phase of your relationship.

Mistake #2: You’re focussing your promise on a “comprehensive service”

What’s the opposite of SMALL?

Big. Wide. Extensive. Comprehensive.

That’s right.

And I hear you think: “But financial planning is all about an integrated view of people’s finances. Our service MUST be comprehensive!”

And I agree. Of course, your service is comprehensive. It’s what we do. It’s what makes us unique. It’s how we can add the most value.

But try to stand in the shoes of people who don’t know you yet.

Do you think they understand? Or care?

No way. They haven’t got a clue about the value they get when they haven’t experienced it yet. That’s why you shouldn’t sell your prospects on your “comprehensive” service. It doesn’t motivate them.

Mistake #3: You’re giving too much information

Most planners believe that when prospects make decisions, they consider all the available information at their disposal and come to an informed decision about calling them for an appointment.

They believe that the best way to persuade them is to provide them with all the available information and a rational explanation for why they should check their financial planning service out.

Yet, 60 years of science proves that it’s not information per se that leads people to make decisions. What does, is the context in which information is presented.

You see, we are living in one of the most information-overloaded, stimulation-saturated environments that have ever existed.

People just don’t have the capacity to fully consider every piece of information in their time-scarce, attention-challenged, busy lives.

As a result, anyone can significantly increase their ability to influence and persuade others by not only attempting to inform people into change. But also by simply making SMALL shifts in their approach to link their message to deeply felt human motivations.

A SMALL change in the setting, framing, timing, or context of how information is conveyed can dramatically alter how it is received and acted upon.

small step

How to Fix Those Mistakes

There are two ways to fix those mistakes.

Here’s technique #1:

You might want to brainstorm about the SMALLEST change that helps you to get more prospects. And when you do, you might want to use these questions:

  • What SMALL changes in approach can help me to attract more prospects?
  • What SMALL shift in language can motivate others to do business with me?
  • What SMALL adjustment can I make to my website that makes it easier for prospects to contact me?
  • What SMALL change can I make to the way I frame my message, to appeal to more people?

Now, I understand that sometimes it can be really difficult to step out of your day to day struggles and think about the SMALLEST changes to your service with the goal to get more prospects.

That’s why I’m introducing technique #2:

You copy and paste the small steps I already used and tested.

These steps are proven and tested small steps that influence your prospects to say “YES”. The great news is that I’ve created a FREE PDF with the 3 Small and Research-Backed Steps that Stop your Prospect from Procrastinating to Do Business with You

The only thing you have to do is to answer this question:  What’s your SMALLEST problem you don’t seem to overcome, when it comes to selling your financial planning service to your ideal prospect?

Please, answer this question by leaving your comment – here below – and you’ll instantly receive a free PDF with the 3 Small and Research-Backed Steps that Stop your Prospect from Procrastinating to Do Business with You

Thank you for your comment.

Let’s make financial planning matter.

Ronald Sier

Leave a Reply 113 comments

ylpathi Reply

to give experience of financial planning.

Matt Barton Reply

Getting prospects to open about what they really want, versus having them talk about investment track record.

Thomas Abel Reply

To talk to fast

Meghashyam Sinkar Reply

Less Listening

Monisha Murthy Reply

Clear communication of services

Kim Klein Reply


Tim Reply

concentrate more on the feelings of my clients and not on my products

Mike Reply

I should ask more questions to clarify and/or confirm what the prospect is saying.

James Schwarz Reply

TMI (too much information) [from me as opposed to from the prospect]

Daniel Reply

Too much information being delivered too soon

Jason R Reply

Giving so much information the client becomes overloaded mentally in the beginning.

Warren Reply

Getting the prospective client to open up with their real need, & also giving too much information to them in the first meeting.

Simon Brannigan Reply

Giving away too much free information.

Jay Reply

The client making the decision that today their problem is something they want to address – with me.

Lance S Reply

Spending too much time presenting firm capabilities and services as opposed to asking questions and listening for answers to guide the conversation to a “yes”.

darren Reply

Making the solutions too difficult, ie too big to fix

B Hutson Reply

Mistake #2 – getting too comprehensive

Brian Reply

Giving too much information too soon

Nick Vail Reply

Getting the clients to really understand the impact of financial planning without jargon or making it overly complicated.

Courtney Reply

Mistake #3 – Too much info

Glenn Reply

Making the complex simple

Tony Mahabir Reply

Presenting services and solutions within the limited time the client has stated.

Lisa Hay, CPA, CFP®, AIF®, RICP® Reply

Related to the topic of this article – Communicating my value proposition without overwhelming them with the technicalities of all that is involved.

Ariel Reply

Not painting the right picture to the prospects about what would happen if they don’t address the gaps in their situation.

Sarah Reply

Trying to explain the regulatory with some clarity – and not get tied up in the ridiculous jargon mode that we sometimes fall back into

Anil Gaur Reply

Client doesn’t seem to believe the existence of someone outside his/her close circle who could really focus on client’s need.

James Reply

Talking too much and listening too little

George Reply

To close the prospect by creating a sense of urgency

Sloan Reply

Trying to communicate the client-centric nature and comprehensiveness of our offer whilst also trying to make it clear that we are easy to work with. It’s a difficult balance to get right – we’ll keep working on it.

Vito Reply

Giving away too much information at first appointment

Tucker Reply

Confidently answering the question – what do you do?

JJ Reply

Doing too much of the talking

Maz Reply

Explaining how what I do can help them

. Reply

Why they need something they never thought they needed before.

Kye Reply

Sharing too much information beyond the agenda

Kye Reply

Straying from the agenda that focuses on what matters most to the client and talking strategy or providing education on various concepts of investing or managing money

Monika Müller Reply

Shift fokusing on the peace of mind our clients (financial planners) will bring to their clients, by using a psychological approach (we offer a training for becoming FCM Finanz Coach).

Tom Reply

Not being on auto pilot in first meetings.

Terri Reply

Getting the balance right between giving and receiving. It\’s the pathway to building a partnership but it\’s always a challenge to get it right.

Anil Gaur Reply

Putting the message across, short and crisp

Anil Gaur Reply

Problem of getting the message across, short and crisp

Onill Cerejo Reply

Giving too much information

Tivesh Reply

break the complete info things into palatable info bites

Neelu R Reply

Smallest problem is to make the customer understand that I am giving genuine advice , the one which I would use for my personal investments


Creating value for the Financial Plan in minds of the client.

Manij Kumar Gupta Reply

To understand batter the value of financial planning

Atul Reply

Smallest problem is to make the customer understand what value add I can bring to his financial life

Ak Reply

Giving too much info on everything.

Udbhav Reply

In India, Advisor word is loosely used, getting Difficult to convey the message that we are \”Real Advisor\” and not \”So-called Advisor\”.

Stual Reply

For me it\’s show something new For them.

Martin Reply

Zvednout zadek a jit

Jim Reply

Getting the initial in-person meeting. Creating a sense of urgency.

Chris Reply

make Financial Planning simple als professional.

Cathy Reply

Overcoming imposter syndrome.

Mike Reply

Failing to ask enough questions.

Theo Reply

Explaing the real value of my service to my clients and prospects.

Warren Reply

Getting them to act after the initial chat

Mark Reply

Being concise and compelling

Russell Reply

Giving away too much information and not valuing myself enough

Thapelo Reply

Differentiating myself with other financial planners to prospective clients and explaining my services in a simpler and easily understandable manner.

Joe Reply

Overcoming sense of insecurity

Jamie Reply

Articulating the value of what I do and also keeping the planning separate from the products.

Pam Reply

my smallest problem is getting to caught up in the details! i\’m starting to realize that clients just want to know they\’re being taken care of

Derek Reply

Every year I resolve to meet with one person per day, whether it be a stranger, a client, or someone in my network of friends. I need more face-time to practice all the things I already know and have more meaningful conversations.

Vidyanand Thakurdesai Reply

Giving too much information.

Jeff Reply

Pick up the phone, smile and dial and follow a script

Scott Reply

Talking too much!

Ben Reply

Walking what feels like a fine line between positioning the value of advice versus pushing a product

Justin Reply

Illustrating the complexities and the value

Stephen Buckle Reply

Being impatient!

Robert Wander Reply

I go into too much detail in describing my services

Meg Reply

Biggest problem, getting the prospect to the table.

Alan Reply

helping the client appreciate the value over the full course of the relationship

James Eastman Reply

Our problem is overcoming our propensity to talk too much. although we listen to obtain a full picture during discovery, we still talk too much, resulting in long 2-3 hour meetings.

Mike Reply

Explaining my value

Robert Reply

My smallest problem is cutting right to the solution instead of listening to what motivates the client.

Chris Reply

Too much talking about plans and a structured process instead of selling a ( in the eyes of the customer) simple solution

Adam Reply

Getting comfortable with self promotion

Ryan Kennedy Reply

My issue is getting prospects/referrals to sit down for an initial meeting. Getting them to feel they need my services on it tial contact.

Blake Reply

The smallest problem is getting clients to understand the value of advice and professional help

Jill Turner Reply

My smallest problem is going into too much detail in order to demonstrate my knowledge and \”worthiness\” probably a female thing.

Herko Reply

Hi Ronald, my smallest problem is using the right tone to explain my added value in small talk

Boris Reply

to explain what i do short and simple

Erik Reply

listening to what\’s the number one need the prospect has and focusing on that. Not selling our comprehensive service

ylpathi Reply

to explain what they really get in short form, say within 30 minutes

Marc Reply

Let the customer talk and not bombarding them with too much information

Ryan Sheppard Reply

Great article.

Problem: Providing too much information. Solution: Keep advice as simple as possible, but no simpler.

Carien Reply

A lot of my prospective clients are warm referrals. A hard part is after an interview knowing innately that the prospect will not be a good fit into my practice and perhaps they should stay with their current provider of financial services. Financial-life planning needs an engaged and willing client to commit to the concept.

Thomas Reply

Hi Ronald, another very good article from you! Hope you did this not over Christmas. 😉
My probably smallest Problem: bring the prospect to push the \”call to action\” button.
Regards, Thomas

Mark Reply

Being brief enough to gain interest , but not so brief as to risk being accused of being too economical with the facts to the point of potentially being accused of being misleading. (I think we\’ve Twitter to thank for that one since many don\’t appear to be able to be able to comprehend anything longer than 140 characters!)

Egor Reply

mine is thinking of business strategy instead of selling tactic.

Andy Reply

Reaching out to the offline world…

Mark Reply

Focussing more on strategies and solutions rather than the client\’s aspirations and what they specifically want to get out of the interaction.

Paul Reply

my smallest problem is the choice between taking initiative or waiting for a reaction after a good talk with a prospect

Andreas Reply

To call people insteadd of writing them emails.

Hubrien Reply

making a little time each day/week for working on this subject…

Sukanya Rao Reply

Listening first and then talking

Sukhvinder Sidhu Reply

Reaching out offline to people to tell them the benefits of financial planning

Joan Reply

Packing information/process into small enough bites.

George Hlawaty Reply

Not being able to get the client to tell me what \”they\” want from our relationship.

Andrew Reply

Simplifying the next step

Lawrence Reply

Demonstrating the value of a financial planning relationship over a financial \’plan\’.

Ken Reply

Let the prospects talk.

Reuben Reply

Overcoming client fee objections once I have felt that I have already demonstrated value.

Jim Reply

Trying to think in terms of helping vs selling

Mike Reply

Sitting in their chair and considering their viewpoint

dio Reply

my smallest problem is getting prospects interested in my service

Brian Reply

Smallest problem is reducing the sense of overwhelm that you mentioned. I know it\’s important to focus on the big picture from a simplification standpoint, but worry that it can also create a sense of overwhelm as well.

Trey Reply

Shutting up.

marc Reply

Smallest problem: Overcoming my own fear

Jerry Sutton Reply

Remembering to see thru their eyes.

Glenn Pitt Reply

My smallest problem if when solved will have the greatest impact upon attracting ideal clients is:

Instilling prospective clients with the confidence to change their adviser relationship from a \”Big Name\” organisation to my business, even when the financial benefits and substantial cost reductions are already clearly evident and proven upfront and educational qualifications and experience is clearly superior in all respects.

The move from a large/layered organisation to a small/nimble organisation just seems too difficult for some to digest. If this problem is solved, then my ideal clients will increase exponentially.

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