by Tony Vidler
One of the greatest challenges for professionals working with complex ideas and products is to keep conversations and explanations as simple as possible, without being patronising to the client or skipping the detail that compliance demands. After all, it takes great skill and careful through to be able to simplify complex information and deliver the essence of advice concisely and have un-informed consumers understand it immediately.
Nearly all clients are time-poor to a degree, and nearly all clients have more than enough complicated things happening in their lives that they begin to feel overwhelmed when we introduce more information which is new, technical, and difficult to work through. Advisers who struggle to get consumers to engage with their advice often overlook the primary reason for that: we make it too hard by being too technical. It’s actually really simple: If they don’t get it, they won’t buy it. It follows that if we did do a good job and they didn’t buy it then the real issue is probably we didn’t do a good enough job of helping them get it.
As has happened many times beforeI was reminded when an adviser admitted he was having a challenge with many clients understanding what his risk management recommendations covered for them. After asking him to explain a typical recommendation to me in the same way that he does with clients I understood immediately why he was finding it a struggle. I’ve been working in this field for 30 years and I was struggling to understand his explanation….so what were the chances that the prospect had been completely baffled?
If they don’t get it, they won’t buy it.
All the detailed explanations about elements of cover and how claims payments might be calculated have their place, but only after the core concept is understood and accepted as being reasonable. To be blunt, you have to get “buy in” from the customer to the strategy before they will buy into the detail of how to execute the recommended strategy. In consumer language; they need to agree that the big idea you are recommending is reasonable before they are even slightly interested in the detail of it all. However it is pointless talking “strategy” and “tactical execution” with most people…that is “eyes glazed over” stuff.
To explain, let’s go back to the risk adviser’ issue which triggered this line of thinking to begin with.
So this is how I explained “the deal”
….we are proposing to use a contract to get someone else to take your problem away for you…and a contract is just a set of promises. When it comes to insurance it works like this: You, the client promise to pay a premium – which is an amount of money you have decided you are willing to lose so that you can avoid losing everything – and in return the insurance company promises to do these things:
It’s just a contract. Just like any other deal. The question is does it appear to be a good deal for you?
People understand what contracts are: 2 parties who commit to do their side of the deal. Clients are usually perfectly capable and comfortable deciding on whether a contract is a good deal for them or not.
Once they’ve decided that it looks like it could be a good deal, THEN the detail matters.
Think of it as trying to explain to a client all the necessary detail of a commercial property that you think would be good for them….the building plans, the security systems, the ergonomic design features, the status of the warrant of fitness on the elevators and code of compliance issues……
Too much detail when they haven’t even necessarily bought into the concept of whether commercial property might be the right way to go will kill the engagement. They have to decide in the first instance that this idea is potentially a good idea and a deal that may make sense for them before they are interested in all the substantiating detail.
Or, to be truly blunt about it: are you bringing a good deal to the table or just wasting their time with meaningless nonsense?
All the detail and the technical supporting information is meaningless nonsense until the client has bought into the concept to begin with and only then does the logic and the detail matter.
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