Answer This Question and the Prospect Will Buy




The perpetual question in every American mind is “what’s in it for me right now?”  The more frequently you answer that question, the more contribution you make to others, the more they are attracted to you and the richer you get. Let’s explore examples of our failure to answer that question and why so many financial advisors and other professionals don’t earn what they would like to earn.

I meet advisors who do seminars about the “stretch” IRA.  This proper IRA structure simply insures that the beneficiary will be able to defer the IRA distributions over their life expectancy.  My question is, “what’s in it for the prospect?” Sure, if their child’s financial wealth is their priority, then the seminar attendee, the parent, will have an interest in the stretch IRA.  But if their own financial well being is paramount, do they care about helping their kids stretch out the kid’s tax bill?

When you discuss estate planning, isn’t it really about buying a life insurance policy to pay estate taxes?  Since the people who receive your proposal will be dead when the estate taxes are due, what’s in it for them?  What’s in it for them to give you $30,000 a year now so their kids can easily pay a million dollar estate tax bill later?

When you call a local CPA to explain how you help people secure their future using long-term care insurance, is your offer to meet and explain this further so that he can pass this message on to his clients--and then refer them to you?  What’s in it for him?

People act in their own best interest and if your proposals continue to focus on any other objective, you will serve fewer people with what they want and you will earn far less than you should. Remember—you don’t serve what people need, you serve what they want.

If you want to have more clients with large IRAs, then why not talk about how to pay less tax on the IRA (by timing distributions to take advantage of lower tax brackets or by rolling assets to a qualified plan where a life insurance policy can be purchased on a pre-tax basis). The income tax savings accrue to your prospect directly and it’s clear what’s in it for them.

People Buy When the Payoff is Personal

If you discuss estate planning, discussions of CRTs, gift annuities, advance directives, and power of attorney designations are all issues that provide a direct benefit to your prospect in the form of income tax savings or being cared for in the event of their illness or disability.  The personal payoff is clear.

When you call another professional for the possibility of cultivating a referral source, how about starting the conversation as follows: “Stu, my name is Bob Richards and I have a large financial planning practice here in town.  Many of my clients ask me to recommend an accountant and I am seeking to meet accountants that I can refer them to.  Can I take you to lunch next week and find out about your business and if these clients would be suitable for you?”  The accountant’s payoff for lunching with you is clear as day.

So how much time do you devote to conversations where:

  • There is no direct, certain and obvious payoff for the prospect
  • The payoff is for someone other than the prospect
  • The payoff is for you

You’ll be even more successful when you answer the more refined question, “what’s in it for me right now?”  Let’s address this immediacy issue in the next post on this issue of getting prospects to say "yes."


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