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Friday, July 11, 2008

Answer Your Buyer's Only Question--What's in it for me now?

Buyers are not only focused on their own best interest, they want it now. Yet, you spend most of your working hours offering future payoffs to prospects. Yet future payoffs are hazy and often hard to conceive. Let’s take an example.

The Center for Disease control reports that 61% of Americans are overweight. I postulate that most of those people know that being overweight:

  • Takes years off their life

  • Results in increased risk of heart disease—the #1 killer of Americans

  • INCREASES the risk of numerous other diseases such as diabetes, gout, hardening of the arteries—which not only produce a shorter life expectancy but creates fewer desirable days while alive

  • Can significantly reduce the enjoyment of old age, possibly restricting travel or resulting in the need for a walker rather than being fit and playing golf three times a week

  • May result in a condition where the last weeks or months or life are spent writhing in an uncomfortable hospital bed or nursing home, ill, rather than at their comfortable home

Americans also know that high fat/high carbohydrate foods contribute to being overweight. So why is it, in light of the dismal outcome of being overweight, Americans consume an estimated 100,000 pounds of cheesecake a month, a food saturated with fat and carbohydrates?

Because it tastes good right now. Your prospects are far more interested in an immediate payoff than what you’ve been offering for your entire career. You’ve offered products and services that pay off 5, 10 maybe even 30 years in the future. But your prospects want the cheesecake now, more than they want good health in 30 years.

Is it any wonder that the baby boomer generation has a savings rate for retirement less than 2% of income, yet the sales of BMWs (fun to drive right now) continue to soar? Retirement is years away but that road hugging, corner grabbing, quick acceleration offered by precision German engineering is instant gratification!

Those mutual funds you offer, those annuities, that LTC policy, the life policy—all produce benefits far into the future—a place that has little allure for Americans who relish today’s good time.

You can sell twice as many products and services (and help a lot more people) when you show your prospect the payoff is right now.

The cliché question the old-time life insurance salesman used to ask is a great example. He asks the husband in front of the wife, “Do you love your family?” That salesman understood that people buy because there is a payoff right now. The payoff to the husband is his demonstration of love for his family (as well as the added incentive of not having his wife brow beat him. He trades off saving the premium for showing love of his family).

When you sell an LTC policy, don’t focus on some payoff 20 years from now and your bevy of statistics about people entering nursing homes. Rather, offer current payoffs:

“Mrs. Smith, do you like to keep your options open?” (A loaded question as this is an American addiction). Then, would it be better to have this protection now and be able to cancel it at any time OR, wake up tomorrow with an illness, never able to get this protection no matter how much you want it? Which of these scenarios would give you better options?

In the above situation, the payoff you offer (keeping options open) is in the present, not 20 years away.

When you speak to the engineer about investing in the mutual fund portfolio, is there a current payoff you can offer? Every engineer I have met wants to be smart and be right. So you might ask, “Steve, do you know these names: Warren Buffet, Peter Lynch, Richard Branson, Sam Walton, and Rupert Murdoch? Do you know in which single asset they all focus their money during their careers?” They invested their money in businesses, just like you have the chance to do by owning these funds. So do you want to take the risk of investing your way or do what these brilliant, super wealthy, super successful and super smart people have done? Do you want to join them?”

No one has ever made a decision that did not have a current payoff (even if that payoff was to feel good now about organizing their future). Your job is to help uncover (for yourself and the prospect) what that current payoff is for them and have them make the decision for that benefit.
America is a wonderful country and Americans are wonderful clients. To have them take action, just answer their perpetual question, “What’s in it for me right now?”