In the first of two articles considering elements involved in positioning the life insurance narrative, industry consultant, author and former adviser, Chris Unwin, talks to advisers about the concept of ‘setting out your stall’ in advance of the conversations that follow…

If you have a market stall – be it for clothes, crafts, food or any other products, then you will get there well in advance of the market opening to the public in order to set out your stall and make it as attractive as possible to your potential customers.

This concept is just as important for a risk adviser when they meet a potential new client for the first time. The perception you create in the mind of the person you are meeting for the first time in that initial ten minutes is absolutely crucial, and you always need to remember that perception is reality in the mind of the person doing the perceiving. It doesn’t matter whether you think they are right or wrong in their perception – if that initial first impression is a negative one, then it’s almost certainly game over, even at this early stage of the engagement.

One of the most important characteristics of a quality risk adviser is his/her ability to put themselves in their clients’ shoes

So what does setting out your stall to create a favourable first impression involve as a risk adviser? One of the most important characteristics of a quality risk adviser is his/her ability to put themselves in their clients’ shoes, to understand what is going on in their heads and to do whatever is necessary to put them in a positive frame of mind.

To this end, there are four specific boxes in which you need to put a tick during this introduction stage of a first client meeting. These boxes I am referring to typically represent negative thoughts that are in the client’s head when they sit down in front of you for the first time, since we as human beings tend to assume the worst and hope to be pleasantly surprised. The negative perception created by the media coverage of our industry also tends to add fuel to this fire.

Ticking the boxes

The first box that you need to be ticking is “removing as many unknowns as possible”. When somebody sits down with you for the first time, the questions in their head will typically be:

1) What’s this person going to be like?

2) What’s it all going to involve?

3) How much is it all going to cost?

The answer to the first question will depend upon that first impression that you make in the opening five minutes of the meeting and remember that if this first impression is a favourable one, then it is merely a necessary building block on the way to doing business but, if the first impression is a negative one, then you’re probably already too far behind the eight ball to make a comeback! Some of the things you can do to facilitate a favourable first impression include:

  • Show interest in your client
  • Be enthusiastic
  • Be yourself
  • Smile

As far as the answer to the second question is concerned, then obviously the presentation of the FSG will go some way towards this, but it is important that you regard the FSG as a sales tool rather than a compliance document i.e. focusing primarily on the range of services you can offer rather than on how you get paid, which brings us nicely on to the answer to the third question. If you have moved to a fee based remuneration or even a hybrid commission plus fee based remuneration, the key is to get on to the front foot right up front and, rather than addressing whether a fee will be payable, you should be addressing which fee structure will be applicable to this client.

It is also worth pointing out that in a subsequent article* I will be outlining another technique that will empower you to substantially lower the bar when overcoming the price barrier.

The other three boxes that we need to be ticking up front are:

1) Allaying Fears

2) Dispelling Myths

3) Creating Expectations

Something like the following script will go a long way towards putting a big tick in all three of these boxes:

“Before we go ahead and find out what your objectives are, I’d just like to mention a couple of things about how I go about doing business which I believe, fortunately for you, are somewhat different to the norm. Firstly, I’d like to make it quite clear that I am NOT interested in one off sales – what I am looking for are long term business relationships. Are you comfortable with that?

“Also, given the range and the nature of the areas we will be discussing, would you agree that it all becomes fairly meaningless unless we get together on a regular basis – maybe initially every six months until your financial houses are in order and then maybe once a year may suffice, because if we don’t get together on a regular basis, then you can’t keep me abreast of any changes in your circumstances which in turn means I can’t keep you abreast of any new ideas or strategies that may become relevant in your changed circumstances. So it is, if you like, a condition of becoming a client of mine that we do get together on a regular basis – are you comfortable with that?”

Having got the client’s agreement to regularity and continuity of service (which is exactly what they were worried they were NOT going to get), you have now created a perfect springboard for getting their agreement to the principle of REFERRALS as follows:

“Now obviously, as a direct result of that, the more clients I take on, the more time I need to spend looking after those clients and providing them with a quality service and the less time I have left for expanding my client base, which I haven’t quite finished doing yet – hence my meeting with you today, right?

Therefore, I do tend to rely almost exclusively on my existing clients to recommend people to me who they think would appreciate the same quality of service, on the assumption of course that you yourself are only going to become a client of mine provided you recognise that there is a quality service to be had – agreed?

Ok, so assuming that you also recognise that you are not unique in being able to benefit from that service but that other people you know could also benefit, would there then, under those circumstances, be any reason why you wouldn’t be happy to recommend other people to me?”

* Next week, Chris Unwin will share his views on the importance of pre-positioning the life insurance proposition, in which he explores how advisers can create a paradigm shift in the way their clients view their “personal protection package”…

If some of the content of these two articles has resonated with you and you feel you would like access to a wider range of simple, practical and usable client engagement tools, then check out some additional upskilling opportunities from Chris Unwin such as:

1) 4 Online Workshops, two of which are risk advice specific and the other two are focused on more generic soft skills. Each one offers 6 or 7 hours’ worth of content segmented into bite size sessions and you have unlimited access to the content for a period of three months, so you can self-educate in your own time and at your own pace:

2) One on One Coaching (face to face or online) – this enables you to get personalised coaching on targeted content specific to your particular needs:

3) “The Risk Workshop” – Chris’s book “The Risk Workshop” lays out a detailed 12 Step Process for your client engagement in the risk advice space.

“The Risk Workshop is spot on in terms of delivering much needed value for advisers, to help them both elevate the quality of their life insurance conversations with clients, and to successfully build the value of their practices.” Peter Sobels, Director, Riskinfo



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