About twelve years ago I bought a bit of life insurance and it was, and continues to be quite literally, a forgettable experience. The small payment leaves my account each month without me thinking about it. I know the name of the carrier but don't have a clue who the Advisor is - or was. He's never contacted me since.
Fast forward to today. I decided it was time to get some critical illness coverage. Such a grown-up purchase! I'm a gal in her 40's - when you're buying critical illness insurance, childhood is waayyy in the rearview mirror!
I've been a sales conversation coach working with the financial community for fourteen years, and have had the pleasure of coaching literally thousands of Advisors in that time. As you can imagine, it's given me a unique window into the kind of Advisor I would want to work with.
The Advisor I chose isn't the lone voice of integrity in a vast sea of financial professionals. I'm happy to say that I've worked with many, many good people, and he is one of them.
So how did I decide?
I thought it would be instructional to hear about my decision process as a client. I hadn't thought consciously about what I was looking for ahead of time, and yet my 'must-haves' were crystal clear on a gut-level. Here is what got me to 'yes':
First, I am absolutely sure of his integrity. Is it because he said 'believe me' or 'trust me'? Of course not. During our sessions, I had the opportunity to learn how he thinks. Why he does what he does. When I understand someone's motivations, I can extrapolate how they will act, based on them. I trust his motivations so I trust him.
I have a sense of his personal values and I saw alignment of behaviours with values. Caring for his family is central to his life and he speaks of them with love and respect, always. He sees caring for his clients as an extension of those values. During our coaching sessions, I heard him speak of his clients consistently that way. He doesn't need to convince me that he cares. He behaves that way.
What does that mean to me? I feel comfortable that he will treat my personal information with respect - not just because he is legally required to do so, but because doing so is in alignment with his core values. Also, I know that if I ever need to make a claim he will fight to make sure I get what I need. He will be a guide and an advocate when it counts the most.
Read my article, The Killer Closing Technique That No One Talks About, for more on this.
Second, I am confident in his expertise. He has eleven years of experience. That doesn't mean that someone with only three years' in the role couldn't do a great job. But I have observed that he is also personally driven to excellence, to learn and think deeply, and fully understand what he is providing. Because I know this, I know that when he doesn't know something, he'll prioritize becoming informed. I've seen that he is on top of all the comparative products available and understands the implications in his clients' lives of making one choice over another.
Third, he is detail-oriented. This is very important with insurance; one line item or clause could make the difference in someone getting the coverage they need, avoiding nasty loopholes, etc... Some Advisors hate all that detail - they love the people aspect of financial planning, but the paperwork drives them crazy. If that is you, make sure you partner with someone who is detail-oriented so you can give your clients confidence in this area.
Fourth, he is an excellent communicator. As a communications professional, obviously, this is important to me. He asks good questions, listens, confirms that he understands me and communicates concepts clearly. He is also responsive in getting back to me with answers and information. Lack of information creates stress, quick responses create ease. I prefer ease!
The last 2 elements are style choices.
Fifth, he is a passionate educator. Back in the days when he was my coaching client, I often heard him say 'I don't care if someone works with me or not. I want to make sure they fully understand all aspects of the products and then make the right decision for them. When they do become a client, I want them to understand exactly what they're getting, so that every time they think of the insurance they purchased, they feel good about their decision.
For me, this was the decisive click.
That is exactly how I want to feel after making such an important decision. I do want to understand in detail what I got. Again, this is a style thing. This may not be appealing to everyone - many clients want to get that gut feel of trust, and then not bother about the details. I'd certainly feel that way about understanding a car engine! But for insurance, this is what I need.
The process of working with him has borne this out. I never felt 'sold to', but instead, educated and therefore, assisted in my buying process. I do understand exactly what I invested in. It's a great feeling!
Sixth and lastly, personality fit. This is the x-factor that will be different for everyone. I'm at ease chit-chatting or talking through serious topics with him. There is mutual respect. We can laugh. What that means for me is that if a phone call or meeting to discuss insurance is necessary I won't procrastinate or avoid self-care because talking about insurance is a drag. I'll have a pleasant expectation because I like and trust him and we get along, so taking care of business will be easy to get to.
How do you want your clients and prospects to feel when they interact with you? Relieve yourself of the pressure of trying to prove that you are those things and simply be them. Your prospects and clients will see alignment between your words and actions, and instinctively know they can trust you.