Today’s 50-plus consumer profile looks vastly different then it did 30 years ago. Fax machines were seen as high-tech, nobody used cell phones, and the Internet wasn’t even invented. The new-age, 50-plus consumer not only looks different, but they act and communicate differently as well.
Many times people make purchasing decisions based on emotional triggers, especially when it comes to larger, more complex decisions. The problem with the financial world is that it gets caught up in the details and often ignores the emotional triggers associated with buying decisions. Instead, potential clients are met by men carrying calculators and waiving spreadsheets who are more interested in talking about returns than how their financial situation will affect their lives.
There have been plenty of studies that show how the human brain has the capacity to absorb no more than four pieces of information at a time in regard to making decisions and solving problems. At that point, emotional impulses trump logic. This isn’t to say that communication ultimately doesn’t have to be data-rich... just not so early in the discussion. The reality is that people make decisions emotionally and use facts later on to justify their decisions.
So while many advisors are conditioned to start a marketing campaign or conversation (or a one-on-one meeting) with hard facts, it’s likely that they won’t make an emotional connection with their prospect. Study after study regarding communication with the 50-plus demographic has shown that empathy tops the list in regard to building a business relationship, followed by clear communication, reliability, vulnerability, and lack of jargon. In most cases, numbers, facts and logic rarely pop up in the top five ways to connect.
Listening tops the list on one-on-one meetings because it allows you to connect on an emotional level. Starting a client meeting by asking open-ended questions allows a good listener to uncover what the client’s retirement goals are and what they find to be most fulfilling. Once you have the answers you can apply the investment skills to a specific purpose.
Data mining is a great way to learn more about what makes an ideal profile for a client. Using your own database to ask current clients and prospects survey questions is a great way to start. It’s easy to find patterns within your most valued clients in regard to what they really want out of life. Success leaves clues, and the people who are already engaged with you can illustrate patterns that could help you connect better on an emotional level, and help you more efficiently attract new, more qualified prospects.
At the end of the day, the relationship between client and advisor is (or should be) a close and emotional bond. The financial decisions they make will not only affect them personally, but has the potential to significantly impact their family for generations to come. In the end, it’s the experiences in their lives that are the most important things…where they live, how much time they spend with their family, where they go on vacation, what happens if they get ill, and will there be anything left over to build a legacy? It’s the financial advisors’ job to seamlessly finance those endeavors.
John Capuano is Co-founder of Lone Beacon Media, a sales and marketing company dedicated to the independent financial advisory industry.