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Are you in or out?

Are you in or out?

You’ve heard me bang on about big questions and little questions.  So today, I’m just talking about how we can recognise the difference between the two.  Because, most people get it, but some don’t.  So, what I want to know is, are you in or are you out?

Most people get it

Most people get the difference between little questions and big questions.  The little questions are about financial advice and products and the big questions are the more human questions that we want to deal with during the financial planning and the life planning.

Clients often start with the little questions, but our job is to get them talking about the human stuff.  Remember, if we answer the big questions, the little questions will take care of themselves.

How do we get from the little questions to the big questions?

I’ve talked before about different techniques to do this, but to be honest, they are redundant if you can’t recognise the difference between a big question and a little one.  I see this, more and more – planners think they are asking and answering big questions, when actually they are just little questions in disguise.

So, let’s cover this first.  How do we tell the difference?

How do you identify a little question?

Little questions are:

  • Transactional or product related. They are often about doing something, or somebody else doing something.
  • Technical. Literally anybody could find the answer, just by looking in a reference book.
  • Generic. They are just out there.  You could type them into Google and come up with 20 different answers to each little, generic question.
  • External. The answer is ‘out there’ somewhere (rather than inside them), which is why the client loves asking little questions.
  • Little questions also involve you doing all the work. By asking a question where the answer is ‘out there’, you’re being asked to run around and find the answer, in your books or in your specialist software.  The client doesn’t have to do any work, which suits them because it fits nicely with most people’s route of least resistance.

How do you identify a big question?

Big questions are:

  • Human. They are about us, our head, our heart, our soul. How do we feel?  How do we want to feel?  Those are big questions.
  • Emotional and personal – they are relevant to the person that has to go deep into their emotions to find the answer. How do they really want to feel?
  • Unique. Everyone has their own personal answer.  Nobody will truly feel exactly the same as you about any particular issue or point in your life.
  • Internal. As a planner, you need to be asking questions where the answers are inside the client – it’s the only place you’ll find them.  Your job is just to remove the obstacles – the bits of stone and rubble – so that they can see that the answer is there.
  • Big questions are also hard work for the client, rather than you. And this is the point.  Clients have come to you, and normally it’s because they haven’t dealt with the big questions themselves.  Why?  Because (as human beings) we don’t really like dealing with big questions.  We don’t like delving into our emotions on a regular basis – it’s just not how we roll.  Instead, we bury our heads in the sand and once every 6 months get blindly drunk and sob on somebody’s shoulder and lots of stuff comes out!  That’s what we do.

So, your job as a planner is to help your client do the hard work and get from the little questions up to the big questions.  And I’m not going to lie – it’s hard work.

Use the 5 criteria and quickly deviate from the little questions

So the first thing is, you’ve got to recognise what sort of question you are being asked, (or what question you are asking).  If you’re not sure, think through the 5 criteria:

  1. Is this human or transactional?
  2. Is it technical or emotional
  3. Is it generic or personal?
  4. Is the answer external or internal?
  5. And ultimately, is it hard work for me, because the client is making me run around?  Or am I making it hard work for them? (which is what I should be doing, because I need to get their heart and soul engaged in this so we can do some great financial planning.)

The key thing is, you’ve to recognise the little questions early, and deviate off.  Because the longer it takes you to get from the little questions to the big questions, the more ingrained the client becomes in those little questions.  And you know what that means?  Harder work for you.

Got it?  Good 😊

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