Professional Triage: Targeting The Immediate Need
Advice Processes & Sales & Marketing for Professional Services & Sales Tips

Professional Triage: Targeting The Immediate Need

July 22, 2019

by Tony Vidler  CFP logo   CLU logo  ChFC logo

A huge mistake many advisers make is trying to deliver comprehensive advice to a client concerned only with an immediate need.  We need to recognize when triage is required, as opposed to when ongoing nursing is needed.


The immediate need is the more often the trigger for an advice client to coluntarily engage.

In financial services clients and prospects rarely make spontaneous impulse-driven purchases of tax returns, or mutual funds, or insurance, or legal advice….the need for such things is more often than not “sold to them“.   That is, we have to identify and highlight the need they haven’t yet recognized.


Then there are those who have recognized a need and it is not the professional who is doing the selling; it is (or was) something or someone else.  A catalyst event.  A trigger.

When this trigger event occurs, the typical consumer seeks professional help.

We must respond and treat their immediate concern.


So, a question which arises when reviewing adviser marketing material is “how would a consumer know what immediate needs you can fix?”


For our marketing to be most effective with people we haven’t met yet we have to think of how we address the things that they consider a risk to their lifestyles because that is what triggers their action.  Our solutions or specialty advice areas need to be marketed in terms and language that match those immediate “lifestyle threatening” needs, or “pain points” if you prefer.  More often than not the things that advisers are marketing as valuable are indeed valuable…but they are not pain points with any urgency or apparent magnitude. They are not immediate needs in most consumers minds.


Do I really want a mortgage broker to help me work out which bank account is optimal?  nah…not really. I’m sure not going to go out of my way to call and set up a meeting at their office over it.  Is the accountants enthusiasm for an accounting software package that will greatly assist sales tax returns going to make me want to attend a seminar after work to get all the great guff on how the coding works in the journals?  Nope. Definitely not.  The insurance broker wanting a couple of hours to talk to me at home about what might happen if I get sick one day?  Nah, I’m fine thanks….


If we accept however that for most consumers the purchasing of professional advice or services happens either because someone did step in and educate then disturb them, or an external trigger motivated them to seek advice or a solution, then it follows that we need to match the marketing to the trigger events that most often lead consumers to take action themselves.  That is; the things that they perceive as affecting their life, or rather “their lifestyle”.  The immediate pain point….and they will pay to fix that.


People will pay a lot for gadgets, and convenience, and luxuries, and indulgences.  So paying good money for lifestyle stuff is not really a major issue.  Paying for a cure or a solution?  Not a problem.


Paying someone a fee to get them the loan that they couldn’t get by themselves easily to buy their dream home:“that’s worth it…”

Paying someone a fee to get the tax department off their back:“that’s worth it…”

Paying someone a fee to make sure there is a predictable and reliable income stream coming in for the next 20 years so they can walk away from the corporate job that they now hate:“that’s worth it…”

Paying someone a fee to find and put in place a contract that guarantees to deliver cash every month for the rest of your working life if you can’t work like what happened to the guy I work with: “that’s worth considering…”


We may well be able to provide a holistic planning process which ensures that they are fully planned for life in all financial respects, however until we have addressed that first urgent need which motivated the consumer to move into action we have no opportunity to engage them in the comprehensive process. When we have a patient and have managed to move that patient from “immediate treatment required” and into “recovery” mode then we can talk about the rest of the health issues and put a full plan in place.


But when they are only concerned about immediate treatment and are looking for the right person to help they are going to choose the professional who is expertly positioned to deal with that pain.  Your marketing material needs to address those immediate pain points: get the “patients” to recognise that you can fix the “pain point” right from the start.  Then you can do triage, and after that you can deliver holistic care.


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