12 MIN READ
What is value? It’s certainly subjective and different from one person to the next. By definition, “value” as a noun indicates worth, importance, merit. For example, the value of education.
As a verb, value similarly points to the monetary worth of something, such as the value of a piece of land.
Value also points to what an individual considers of importance—a subjective consideration. For example, one person values time alone while another values time with others.
In thinking further, value can be both subjective and objective. The value of a ring at a jewelers is objective, as indicated by the price tag. However, if I do not particularly like the ring nor would have a desire to wear it, it is not of value to me outside of its monetary worth.
And so it is for the people you serve as a financial advisor; what do they deem important and valuable? An advisor’s role is to consider what in life is important and valuable to their prospect or client and then to help get them there.
To that end, a good measure of your sales process should work to uncover just that…finding out where a prospect wants to go in life and how their money, in part, can help get them there.
In this blog, we'll explore how to communicate your value once you’ve uncovered what’s of key importance to your prospects and clients. The goal? To make you their chosen advisor.
Knowing what's important to your prospect and their perceived or very real obstacles to getting there is your job as trusted advisor. Helping them get past the veneer or lack of clarity they might have and uncover their golden truths is your noble mission.
Once these truths are unveiled, violà, you have an opportunity to share your value—your skillset in uncovering obstacles—revealing the roadmap that will take them where they want to go in life.
(Michael Kitces addresses this point well in his “What Clients (Actually) Value Most in a Financial Planner” podcast.)
You've no doubt read books, articles, or social media posts on the various ways of questioning your prospect to excavate for what they truly desire in life. Perhaps you’ve read George Kinder’s fantastic books and his Three Question inquiry that gets to the heart of planning for the best life they can imagine. I recently attended a two-day workshop, "The Seven Stages of Money Maturity" with Kinder and his team. His approach to mindfully getting to the core of what a prospect/client is ardently seeking in life was both brilliant and impactful.
With Mr. Kinder’s help, let’s explore first how you get to the nuggets of truth that your prospect might or might not be aware of within themselves. Next, we’ll look at how to best uncover and reveal to your prospect your unique skillsets and value.
Georg Kinder is a financial planner and inspired creator of the Kinder Institute. His website, Life Planning for You, offers free access to trademarked worksheets; advisors who have gone through Kinder Institute programs can use the site to bring Life Planning exercises to their clients.
Mr. Kinder’s Three Questions are a great place to mine for the values a prospect/client deems important. His definition of "Life Planning" sets the scene for deep discussions you initiate when speaking with a prospect/client to understand what is valuable to them in life. The Kinder Institute’s definition of Life Planning helps assert this contention.
“Life Planning connects the dots between our financial realities and the lives we long to live. The Kinder Institute’s tools and trainings make it possible for financial planners and individuals alike to cultivate a Life Plan designed to deliver the most meaningful kind of freedom: The freedom to pursue life’s passions, wherever they may lead.”
Mr. Kinder was featured in a Michael Kitces podcast entitled, ‘Why Life Planning is Financial Planning Done Right’, extolling the benefits of the right kind of questioning to mindfully get to the heart of what is most valuable in life to a prospect or client.
Kinder, known as the father of life holistic life planning, focuses on getting beyond financial challenges and concerns, and works to connect how money can deliver freedom to fashion a life you love.
"What’s fascinating about George, though, is that he didn’t start out trying to create a movement towards life planning. George was actually a math major at Harvard, who then became a CPA (and earned the Bronze Medal for the third highest score in his entire state on the CPA exam!), and only began to explore the intersections between financial planning and psychology after forming a niche financial advisory practice delivering advanced tax strategies for self-employed psychologists and therapists!"
I find it fascinating how Kinder focused on his passion and a niche he valued, "self-employed psychologist and therapists", which led him to launch a focus in his work that has created an impact on thousands of advisors!
When we feel our way toward purpose and our passion, we will no doubt be led down the right path.
And so it is for the clients you guide through your careful listening to uncover what is important to them. I work with a wide variety of niche-focused advisors at XYPN, all whom have or are discovering their own focus and value. I find it interesting to witness how their own journey—choosing their fee-only path, passion, and niche—is not unlike the focus that impassioned Kinder on his journey to guide others to find their own authentic journey with their finances as a tool.
Finding and knowing our passions in life and what we value has the power to exponentially and positively impact others.
Kinder’s key Three Questions are compelling in leading a prospect to unpack what is of true value and importance in their own lives. In the whirl of daily life, not to mention a pandemic and an ever-fluctuating economy, we often don’t get to these questions on our own.
In an effort to get beyond the more tactical focus on money, i.e. "When do you want to retire?" or assertions around wanting a second home, money for more vacation time, getting past debt or saving for your kid’s college, Kinder’s questions look more holistically at what an individual truly wants and needs in life to genuinely, authentically thrive. He guides people toward realizing an overarching vision for their lives to which a strategy and tactical steps can then be suitably employed.
To assist your prospects and clients in discovering the deepest values in their lives, Kinder asks the following Three Questions:
Question 1: Design Your Life
I want you to imagine that you are financially secure, and you have enough money to take care of your needs, now and in the future. The question is, how would you live your life? What would you do with the money? Would you change anything? Let yourself go. Don’t hold back your dreams. Describe a life that is complete, that is richly yours.
Question 2: You Have Less Time
This time, you visit your doctor who tells you that you have five to ten years left to live. The good part is that you won’t ever feel sick. The bad news is that you will have no notice of the moment of your death. What will you do in the time you have remaining to live? Will you change your life, and how will you do it?
Question 3: Today’s the Day
This time, your doctor shocks you with the news that you have only one day left to live. Notice what feelings arise as you confront your very real mortality. Ask yourself: What dreams will be left unfulfilled? What do I wish I had finished or had been? What do I wish I had done? Did I miss out on anything?
(These Three Questions above were developed by George Kinder and the Kinder Institute of Life Planning. It is part of a program of trainings that leads to the Registered Life Planner® designation. Used by permission of George Kinder © 2019.)
Answering the first question is easy. There are many things we’d consider doing with our money if there was no limit. As the questions progress, they become more difficult to answer as there are fewer possibilities. Kinder shares that planning is all about answering the third question: what would you do if you had only 24 hours left in your life.
(A short video of Mr. Kinder sharing his perspective on his key Three Questions which get to the heart of what matters to clients.)
Going further, to best assist your prospect’s relationship and belief around money along with their money behaviors, you might consider questions in the categories below to best discern how to share how you can assist them in getting there, partnering to find inspired solutions to where they want to go.
By asking some of the questions suggested below, you’ll be helped in more fully understanding the framing around which your prospect lives and with regard to money as a resource/tool in their lives. How your client was brought up around money, financial concerns, beliefs around what is possible or not with regard to finances is all key in understanding any blocks you need to uncover to move toward what you discovered as important to your prospect/client.
Consider the following questions as part of your pre-close "Discovery Meeting" and certainly questions that can continue as you explore together as client and advisor. Your learning of what’s relevant and important to your prospect will better allow you to share stories of how you’ve helped others to move past similar challenges, thereby sharing your value and building credibility and trust with your prospect.
- What is your first memory of money?
- What was your financial situation growing up, as you recall?
- How would you describe your relationship with money?
- What are your current most pressing financial concerns?
- What are your most important non-financial concerns and objectives?
- Do you have professional relationships with a preferred CPA, Attorney, etc?
A second key area of your questioning, designed to move your prospect/client conversations to the overarching goals they expressed as part of your initial Kinder-style Three Questions, might include lifestyle specifics. Narrowing the conversation to learn what activities/work/time with friends/family is key in building a roadmap to what matters to your prospect/client.
- What are you passionate about in life, i.e. family, hobby, job, etc.?
- What role does your career play in how you define yourself?
- What do you love most about the work that you do?
- What do you do to relax? What are your hobbies?
- Is there something you’d like to learn, to buy, place you’d like to travel to?
- Can you tell me what your biggest priorities are for this year? The coming year or two?
Questioning around family, friends, children, support for others and what is most fulfilling to the individual you are speaking with his key. How to granularly get to responsibilities, dreams and goals beyond current challenges. Helping your prospect to see clearly the choices they are making, assessing priorities as they work toward potential future life goals is of great value.
- Tell me about what you and your partner like to do together?
- Tell me about your children. What makes each one special?
- Describe the values that you grew up with. What do you want to pass on to your children?
- Who are you financially responsible for? How do you envision that changing in the future?
- If you had no constraints such as children, money, or yours or your spouse’s job, what would you like to do?
- What would be most fulfilling to you and what might be in your way to doing that?
The consideration of a prospect’s heath issues or those of someone to whom they care for is a relevant topic for discussion with how a sudden shift in their own or another’s wellness might impact other goals and/or the importance of a plan to leverage assets and minimize liabilities. Your help in identifying where there could be potential challenges and how to best mitigate those bumps in the road showcases once more your value as a coach and guide through the twists and turns in your client’s life!
- Please share any health concerns that you would like me to know about.
- Do you have any current health directives in place?
- Do you have thoughts on health directives you’d like to put in place for you or other loved ones?
- What’s your biggest fear when it comes to the aging process?
Understanding the importance of giving back and the meaning behind such gestures and requests is an important piece of any prospect’s vision for how they want to live their life and/or to be remembered. Being a part of a community, making an impact, however small or big can create a robustness and sense of value to your prospect/client and a tangible value for you as guide for recognizing and identifying the need.
- Do you have a special interest group that you like to support?
- Does your family have a history of supporting one group or another?
- How important is it for you to connect with your community or with global communities and causes?
- Do you have a preferred cause that you envision leaving money to after you pass?
Lastly, in my list, identifying how your prospect/client intends to give of remaining assets after death is key. Have your client’s outlined goals make sense in terms of the priorities identified and the proposed methods for getting there. Are priorities in an approach identified and other strategies considered should your prospect/client live beyond a certain age?
RETIREMENT & LEGACY
- What is the greatest achievement in your life to date?
- Are you confident that you will not outlive your money?
- Tell me a bit about what sort of things you would like to do when you retire.
- Do you have any concerns about when you can or will retire?
- What would you change if you needed to save more in order to reach your goals?
- Do you have a plan for what will happen to your assets when you die?
Once you’ve shared a high-level roadmap for getting to where your prospect wants to go, consider the following questions to further explore what your prospect shares. Work to take them deeper into understanding their own heart, what is truly of key importance as they map out the life they most desire.
At this point you’ve done the following:
- You’ve taken your prospect/client into new and valued terrain that they may not have been aware of before your sensitive line of questioning and listening.
- You’ve learned about challenges, perceived or otherwise, expressed by your prospect/client.
- You’ve communicated your value by reflecting what your prospect has shared, empathically and with sincerity.
- You’ve communicated your understanding of what is important to them and helped them be vulnerable in doing so.
- You’ve maybe related vulnerabilities of your own and how you moved past them, further demonstrating your passion for your key niche group and in the work you do that is both your passion and a part of your larger purpose.
- You’ve by now shared high level key strategies you’ve used in working with others in similar situations and/or discussed ideas for moving forward with your prospect/client.
The following questions will help you guide your prospect to making a decision as to moving forward with you as their guide and advisor.
IN CLOSING - MOVING FORWARD TOGETHER
- What is really important to you that we didn’t discuss today?
- What do you feel is the most important thing that I can do for you?
- (Clarification questions): What’s important about that to you? Why is that important? What are your most important financial concerns today? How do you hope we can address them?
- Given all we discussed and how I shared I can assist you, do you see a reason why we might not move forward together?
- Do you have further questions that would help you feel we are the best fit?
Align that with:
- How does your skillset, passion, education and expertise satisfy helping to get them there?
- How do you throughout your conversation share talking points that reflect you hear them, you feel their angst, their passion, their uncertainly, and their excitement around what they truly desire in life?
- How do you share your desire to serve, your passion and skillset for helping them achieve what they want?
- How will you act as an advocate and partner, confidently sharing your reasonable pricing to get them past challenges and toward their dreams.
- Consider the stories you share in how you’ve worked with others, or in a unique situation, how you propose employing your education and smarts to navigate through their situation to a place which is closer to their goals.
Share how you propose moving forward together, which process you recommend and/or service and pricing model and add a follow-up date on the calendar. Mention that you’ll email what you need for securing an agreement and officially getting started together. Your organization, leadership in guiding your prospect through this process will provide untold value.
Being present, affirming, direct, and caring matters. Expressing your excitement in working together and thanking your prospect or your client for their time and openness and for allowing you the privilege in working with them toward their goals matters. You matter. Your willingness to serve matters. You are valuable to the many people who need exactly what you can provide.
Just as you are moving toward being the best advisor to your clients and living your best life, allow yourself the freedom to improve as you progress there. As you engage your prospect in a new path, relish your own as you learn your overall value and as you work toward learning to share it with the people who so dearly need the guidance you can offer.
About BB Webb, XYPN Sales Coach
XYPN Sales Coach BB Webb has a background in both the arts and as an entrepreneur. She first learned about sales while touring her one-woman play across country and later through successfully growing her award-winning Atlanta based special event venue, selling it 14 years later to make a move to Bozeman, Montana.
As XYPN’s Sales Coach, BB’s primary goal is to assist XYPN members in building great relationships, plans and processes for selling their services as Financial Advisors. With a focus on consultative selling, BB’s programs and resources are developed to guide members in creating their own systems and conversations for selling their unique services, fearlessly and with joy.