Converting Prospects

The Advice Trap

I get it.  You’re an investment advisor. You understandably believe prospects come to you to get the benefit of your wisdom.  After all, you’re in the business of giving advice.

Except you’re not.

In fact, dispensing advice is your single biggest barrier to success.

Here’s the harsh reality:  No one wants advice.  Not even yours.  Here’s why.

The peril of giving advice

This blog by Gustavo Razzetti should be required reading by every advisor (and every parent!).  In it, Razzetti nicely summarizes the reasons why you should stop giving advice.

He accurately notes that giving advice is highly pleasurable for those giving it, but not for those on the receiving end.  Giving advice makes you feel good.  It often does nothing for the recipient.  It can even be harmful.

Giving advice is counter-productive

Here’s a great quote.  Tuck it away and recall it the next time you are ready to propose a quick solution for someone else’s problem:  Unsolicited advice doesn’t work. Offering something that people did not request is pushy. Your advice will automatically go in the junk box.

Don’t assume your advice is being requested

We’re quick to assume people want our advice.  Often, they just want to be heard.  Train yourself to listen carefully.  Resist the temptation to offer a solution for every problem.

No one cares about your advice.”

I love that quote!  We think our advice is special, unique and highly valued.  Often, we actually make matters worse by giving unsolicited advice or assuming our advice is being sought.

Empathy trumps advice

Razzetti correctly notes that, The best advice is being empathetic to the person that needs help. Practice walking in the other person’s shoes, rather than trying [to get] them to walk in yours.

For advisors, this means taking off your “advice hat” and putting on your “empathetic hat”. Your goal should be to elicit information. This is a much different role than being the all-knowing dispenser of wisdom.

As Razzetti observes, Asking questions without interrupting can help you (and the other party) better understand what the real problem is.

When you must dispense advice

Of course, there will be times when it’s appropriate to dispense advice.  Instead of embracing this opening, Razzetti recommends listening first, asking more questions, helping the other person frame the issue and providing options instead of black and white solutions.

Compare this thoughtful, restrained, empathetic approach with your response when you are asked a question.

In the future, don’t automatically think people want your advice.  You will likely be more successful if you stop giving it.

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