When You Confuse, You Lose Prospects

Stop confusing your prospects and clients!

That’s a strong statement, I know. When you use terms that your prospects and clients may not understand, you risk confusing them. Or even worse – offending them. And we all know that a confused mind doesn’t take action.

As I coach individuals and teams of advisors on how they communicate their value, I continually see the use of industry jargon.

Probably the two most common examples are fiduciary and fee-based.

How to Use Terms Not Familiar to Your Prospects and Clients

A few other common, but potentially “confuse-and-lose” terms: basis point, dollar-cost averaging, fixed income, custodian, and derivative. (There are plenty of others.)

There are two rules of thumb when using terms that are unlikely to be familiar to the listener:

  1. Whenever possible, choose a term that you’re highly confident the listener will immediately understand.
  2. If you choose to use a term that may be unfamiliar to the listener, immediately define that term.

Here’s a possible word track for you to consider:

YOU: George, one of the most important differences between me and many other advisors is that I’m a fiduciary. Are you familiar with the term?

GEORGE: I’ve heard the term, but I’m not really sure what it means.

YOU: It simply means that, unlike many other advisors, all my recommendations and suggestions must always be in your best interest. Someone who is not a fiduciary could steer you in a direction that could be more self-serving than client serving. You can feel confident that I will always put your best interests ahead of mine.

Notice that I asked George if he was familiar with the term. If he said, “Yes, I am,” I would then say, “Well then you know that….” I still want to create that important distinction.

So, rather than assume George knows or doesn’t know, I still get to make the point without coming across confusing or condescending.

You can apply this basic formula to just about any term or concept you communicate to prospects, clients, and centers of influence.

This Also Applies to Credentials

From my perspective, too many advisors under-emphasize their credentials and certifications. If you have certifications, training, and credentials that are a benefit to your clients, leverage them!

Don’t assume they know what any of those initials after your name mean. Explain their meaning in a way that helps the client see the benefit to them.

Related: Teach Your Clients How to Refer a Friend Who Fits Your Business