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From Invisible to Indispensable: Making Financial Planning More Valuable

In his book “Selling the Invisible,” marketing expert Harry Beckwith explains how difficult it can be to sell intangible services like financial planning. Unlike tangible products that customers can touch, see, and feel, financial planning is an invisible service that can be hard to quantify and communicate to potential clients.

But just because financial planning is invisible doesn’t mean it has no value. In fact, financial planning can be one of the most valuable services you offer as a financial advisor. By helping clients define and achieve their financial goals, you can have a profound impact on their lives and their future.

So, how can you make the invisible visible and communicate the value of financial planning to potential clients? Here are some strategies to consider:

1. Focus on outcomes, not features.

When selling a tangible product, it’s easy to focus on its features – what it is, what it does, and how it works. But when selling an invisible service like financial planning, it’s more important to focus on the outcomes – what the service will do for the client and how it will improve their life.

For example, instead of highlighting the features of your financial planning process (e.g., comprehensive analysis, customized recommendations, ongoing monitoring), focus on the outcomes your clients can expect to achieve (e.g., financial security, peace of mind, retirement readiness). By emphasizing the benefits and outcomes of your service, you can make the value of financial planning more tangible and compelling to potential clients.

2. Use stories and analogies.

Stories and analogies are powerful tools for making intangible concepts more concrete and relatable. Consider using stories or analogies to illustrate the value of financial planning to potential clients.

For example, you could tell a story about a client who was able to retire early and travel the world thanks to the financial planning strategies you helped them implement. Or, you could use an analogy to explain how financial planning is like a roadmap – it helps you chart a course to your destination and avoid potential detours and roadblocks along the way.

By using stories and analogies, you can help potential clients visualize the benefits of financial planning and make the invisible visible.

3. Use visual aids.

While financial planning may be an invisible service, there are ways to make it more visible through the use of visual aids. Consider creating charts, graphs, and other visual representations of your client’s financial situations and goals.

For example, you could create a chart that shows a client’s projected retirement income and expenses over time, illustrating the impact of different retirement strategies. Or, you could create a graph that shows the potential growth of a client’s investments over time, demonstrating the benefits of starting early and staying invested.

By using visual aids, you can help potential clients see the value of financial planning and make it more tangible and understandable.

4. Demonstrate your expertise.

One of the challenges of selling an invisible service like financial planning is demonstrating your expertise and credibility. Unlike tangible products that customers can see and touch, financial planning requires a high degree of trust and confidence in the advisor’s abilities.

To demonstrate your expertise and credibility, consider sharing case studies, client testimonials, and other evidence of your successful track record. You could also highlight your credentials, certifications, and professional affiliations to show you have the knowledge and experience to help clients achieve their financial goals.

By demonstrating your expertise, you can build trust and credibility with potential clients and make the value of financial planning more visible.

5. Emphasize the ongoing value of financial planning.

Finally, it’s important to emphasize the ongoing value of financial planning – it’s not just a one-time service but an ongoing relationship that can provide value for years to come.

For example, you can highlight how financial planning can help clients adjust to life changes and unexpected events. Life is unpredictable, and even the most well-crafted financial plan can be derailed by unexpected events like a job loss, a medical emergency, or a market downturn. By emphasizing that financial planning is an ongoing process, you can help clients understand that they have a partner to turn to in times of crisis who can help them adjust their plan and make informed decisions based on their changing circumstances.

Additionally, you can emphasize the importance of regular check-ins and updates to ensure the plan stays on track. Financial planning is not a set-it-and-forget-it service but requires ongoing monitoring and adjustments to stay relevant and effective. By highlighting the value of regular check-ins and updates, you can help clients understand that financial planning is not a one-time event but a long-term partnership that can help them achieve their goals.

Another way to emphasize the ongoing value of financial planning is to offer additional services beyond the initial plan. This could include investment management, tax planning, estate planning, or other related services. By offering a comprehensive suite of services, you can help clients understand the full scope of what financial planning can offer and reinforce the idea that it is a valuable ongoing relationship.

6. Communicate regularly and proactively.

Regular communication with clients is essential to keep them engaged and informed about their financial plans. Advisors should communicate proactively, providing regular updates on market conditions, performance, and changes to the financial plan. Clients should be aware of any new investment opportunities or changes to their portfolios that could impact their financial goals. Regular communication also builds trust and keeps clients loyal to their advisors.

7. Use technology to enhance the client experience.

Technology can be used to make financial planning more engaging and accessible for clients. Advisors can use online platforms to provide clients access to their accounts and financial plans, making it easy for them to track progress toward their goals. Client portals can also be used to provide educational resources, such as articles and videos, to help clients learn more about financial planning and investment strategies.

8. Collaborate with other professionals.

Collaboration with other professionals, such as accountants, attorneys, and insurance agents, can help advisors provide a more comprehensive financial planning experience for their clients. By working together, these professionals can ensure that clients have a complete understanding of their financial situation and can make informed decisions about their future.

9. Continuously improve the client experience.

The financial planning process is ongoing, and the client experience should reflect that. Advisors should continually evaluate their processes and services to ensure that they are meeting the needs and expectations of their clients. They should be open to feedback and willing to make changes to improve the client experience.

10. Develop a strong personal brand

A strong personal brand can help advisors stand out in a crowded marketplace and attract new clients. Advisors should focus on building their reputation through networking, speaking engagements, and thought leadership. They should also leverage social media to connect with clients and prospects and showcase their expertise and value.

Beckwith also points out that because the decision to buy a service will feel like a “risky” proposition for the prospective client (“How do I know if I will really get a service that is worth paying for?”), it’s important to do what you can to make the transaction feel less risky. For instance, Beckwith suggests offering a trial period or test project; in the context of financial planning, that might mean not insisting that clients do a comprehensive financial plan up front and instead offering a modular financial planning service for a standalone fee, such as a 2-hour Retirement Readiness Review and analysis for INR XXXX, and only then inviting the client to consider a more comprehensive financial planning solution after you have demonstrated your value proposition.

In conclusion, financial planning is an essential service that can help individuals and families achieve their long-term financial goals. However, it is an invisible service that can be difficult to quantify and communicate to clients. By following the strategies outlined in Harry Beckwith’s book “Selling the Invisible,” financial advisors can make their services more valuable and visible to clients. They can focus on building strong relationships, delivering exceptional service, and continuously improving the client experience. With these strategies in place, advisors can differentiate themselves in the marketplace and attract new clients while retaining their existing ones.

Reproduced with permission of author Gaurav Suri
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