Originally published on Advisor Perspectives
A while ago, I gave a luncheon talk to a group of women investors. I asked them to share their experience interviewing financial advisors. None of them had met with any female advisors. One described her experience, which consisted of an elaborate and detailed presentation by an advisor, is these stark terms: “I felt like he was throwing up all over me.”
In all aspects of your business, many of you eschew the adage, “less is more.” Instead, you embrace – sometimes unknowingly – the paradigm that “more is more.”
Let’s start with your webpage. It’s replete with information about you, your investment philosophy, why you are different, and “resources,” like blogs, videos and hyperlinks.
When you meet with prospects, you feel the need to convey the same information, often using presentation aids.
You believe imparting lots of information will encourage prospects to retain you.
The research is to the contrary. Indeed, presenting too much information is the quickest way to lose a prospect.
A basic misunderstanding
Research, authored by Nadav Klein and Ed O’Brien at the University of the Chicago Booth School of Business, concluded that people often make snap judgments, without being aware they are doing so. In a series of studies, participants thought they would suspend judgment until they had assessed all relevant information. However, decisions were often made using far less information than they thought was required.
One of these studies has important ramifications for advisors. MBA students were asked to apply for a hypothetical management position. They were told to write whatever number of essays describing their management experience they thought the hiring manager would actually read before making a decision. They were further instructed that too few or too many essays would cost them the job opportunity.
Actual hiring managers then read the essays and told the authors of the study when they stopped reviewing them.
The students estimated far too many essays would be read by the hiring manager before a decision was made. The authors of the study made this observation:
Those looking to impress might be wiser spending their time fine-tuning some information rather than fine-tuning all information, despite intuitions to do the latter (e.g., evaluators likely will not process each and every page of one’s 20-page resume, no matter how well crafted or informative).
The takeaway from all the studies was that minds are made up sooner than people think. Far from carefully weighing all possible evidence, good things strike us as good and bad things strike us as bad much faster than we expect to draw these conclusions.
Using this research
We know that people make decisions emotionally and not necessarily rationally. The information you convey (whether it’s in person, on the phone or on your webpage) needs to make an emotional connection.
On your webpage, make this connection with images and short videos showing you in various settings, both informal and formal. You want the viewer to relate to your “human” side.
In person, do this by asking questions and empowering others to talk about themselves.
Instead of conveying a mountain of data, retrain your brain to elicit information and to let the conversation go in whatever direction the prospect wishes to take it.
Once you understand that people underutilize the information you are providing and form an opinion using only a sliver of what is available, consider reducing the amount of that information significantly.
It turns out that less really is more.