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The Art of Fact-Finding – Turning Needs Into Wants
I timed myself this morning to make our bed. I got it down to 1½ minutes and I’m very proud but please don’t tell my wife.
The reason I do it so easily is because it’s so simple and so boring.
Some things in life are simple. When we do simple things, like making the bed, we go on autopilot, in other words we automate it so that it takes as little of our conscious attention as possible. That way we can focus on something else. We speed up simple processes because they are boring.
Now finding the truth with our customers in a face-to-face interview is simple. Gathering information to fill out a form is not difficult. Hard facts are required to fill out a form most of the time. Once we have the facts, we as fully trained and educated financial advisors, know the products the customer needs and the talk is simple too.
Talking is not selling – especially not selling a relationship.
Rapport selling fact-finding involves getting into the difficult bit. Not just asking questions to get facts but asking different questions that simulate a discussion to open up opportunities with our customers, finding subtle information to help us link our products to them personally . Knowing what motivates them to do what they do, make them feel anxious about their lack of coverage, excited about a goal they have in mind.
Most importantly, get them to want what we have to sell. Turning needs into wants is the hard bit but the most rewarding for them and us.
So how do we do this?
You need some skills and some process. The skills come down to your ability to ask the right question, make it a conversation and a genuine interest to your customer and to have first class listening skills.
The process is this:
o Prioritize the needs of the customers, and take care of each one
o Know the situation around the need
o Turn a need into a want
o Gain commitment
As with any process, you can adapt as you go but it is important to follow some structure. What’s more important is that your customers come with you. Ask them to join your journey. Tell them where you are taking them. Explain the process in terms of benefits so they know what will happen and what is expected of them.
“I would like to spend some time exploring your current situation by asking a lot of questions. I will listen carefully if that is OK as you talk about yourself, your situation, your goals and dreams and the issues. that you are surrounded by. personal finance. That way I can give you the best service and advice. Is that OK Mr Brown?”
Put needs first
Have a priority of needs that, hopefully, your customer agrees with and is actually a priority for you. This is often the reason they see you or refer you in the first place. Companies use all kinds of acronyms to help you decide on needs and each fact finding page is usually dedicated to a particular need.
o PIMPSIO – Protection, income replacement, mortgage, pension, savings and investment, etc.
o PEPSI – protection, income replacement, pension, savings and investment
or SLIM – savings, life protection, insurance, mortgage
Most importantly though, the customer decides the priority, not you. And you take it one need at a time.
Know the situation
Fact-finding is usually filled with general information on the type of situation. Name, policy details, cover amount, retirement date, cover deficiencies required etc. Now you need it of course, but you need softer information. You need their feelings about the coverage they have, what they know about the alternatives, you need their priorities, their goals, their goals for their family. You want to know what their former advisor thinks, how much the state gives them when they retire or die.
These are just examples of their current situation.
Lots of open-ended questions, probing and good old fashioned silence and listening will give you this information.
Make the need want
The principle here is that people are driven away from pain and problems or into happiness. Imagine this in your life? What inspires you? Maybe it’s one of the two.
This bit is the smart bit and also the trickiest. There are three ways you can explore that will make the customer think they want certain solutions. They will discover the problems they face if the current situation remains, they will see that some goals may be unbalanced or off target and this may cause a problem or they may rediscover or rekindle the a goal that inspires them into action.
Take the necessities of life and protection. Its lack can cause problems for people especially when the cause occurs. They die or are unemployed for a long time due to illness. Your questions should allow them to think through the problems for them personally and the consequences as well. Your questions will allow them to think about what kind of solution will solve these problems and turn the need into a real desire for the products. A good mix of questions – open and reviews, summaries, pauses will bring dividends here.
Be careful entering like a bull in a china shop. You are dealing with personal information so we need to be sensitive. Be careful with your question style and tone. Use lots of “tell me…” and “I’m curious” and “I wonder”. Also make sure that the tone of your question rises slightly in the sentence. It is very important because the opposite, a falling tone, suggests a command and will be interpreted as an attack or an interrogation.
And you don’t want that?
Bring savings or investments. Having this or wanting this place of need requires a final result. Why are they gathering? A rainy day, a holiday of a lifetime, a retirement income, a new car, a house. This list goes on. Your questions will allow them to examine these goals, vision of the goal clearly, discover the joy of achieving this goal can bring. This is enough to turn this need into a want.
What about re-mortgages? It’s big business these days. Is it a need motivated by pain or pleasure? It really depends. You may ask what concerns they have with the mortgage they already have. They may be worried about paying a higher interest rate than other people or having to pay longer than they would like. This is where we have a problem.
Check it carefully to see how it affects them personally and you may find them driven by the desire to get a better interest rate or the possibility of paying off the loan earlier than planned. You can check the problems of staying with their current lender and perhaps the personal consequences. This avoidance of pain becomes their motivation.
So to bring success in the search for truth we turn the need into a want. A wish for some advice. Maybe it’s a little utopian, but this process equipped with the right questions and acres of listening will get you on the way.
Have a commitment
On the way to explore needs with your customer, you want to get small commitments along the way. Under the affordability, they are interested to see more details soon. Asking about affordability at an early stage is a great way to prevent an objection later down the line.
All the time you are building a vision of a package of options that will eliminate this pain or give them the pleasure they want. At the end of the formal fact-finding process, we need to communicate that this is what we will show them and they can look at the options and make some decisions.
There is nothing I can do to make the process of making the bed a more interesting and stimulating task, unlike the search for truth. But I think I’ll stay for 1½ minutes and be quiet. The pain of having other jobs to do around the house is too much.
The next time you do a fact find, focus on the hardest and most motivating part – that is turning the needs you talked about into wants. Remember away from pain and problems or towards happiness.
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