The Client-centred Blog

Financial planning – how to have clients sell it to themselves

You should never need to or try to sell financial planning to a client. 

When conversations are conducted in the right way clients will sell it to themselves and you will have no need to convince them of anything.

In fact, trying to convince people is a mistake.


Because as marketing expert and prolific author Seth Godin said:

“People don’t believe what you tell them.

They rarely believe what you show them.

They often believe what their friends tell them.

They always believe what they tell themselves.”

Moving from product focused advising to financial planning

A situation came up with an adviser I have been working with.

She wanted to shift her business from a transactional model, where she had been almost entirely focused on products and investments, to becoming a financial planning led business. She wanted to help her clients clarify, plan for, and live the life they want rather than just be the arranger of their pensions, investments and so on.

Only there was a problem.

Instead of her new offering going down well with potential clients she had been experiencing far more push-back and resistance than she expected and could not understand why.

What can lead to push-back from clients?

Historically, she had been exceptionally good at connecting with people and quickly building strong relationships. She was genuinely interested in people, straight talking and always went the extra mile to give brilliant service.

This is what her clients bought into. They implicitly trusted her, and she had always received a lot of recommendations.

As she had begun to move into financial planning, she had been trying to convince people of the value of financial planning. She was trying to explain how it worked and what it could do for them, but they were not buying it.

Financial Planning is an experience, not a process

I knew what she was going through because I had gone through exactly the same thing myself when I first became a coach. I tried to explain coaching to people, what it could do for them, and why it was a good investment. And, like my client, I got far more push back than I expected.

This all changed when I learned one extremely valuable thing.

Do not try and sell concepts. Give people the experience right from the get-go.

I stopped trying to explain it and instead gave people the experience of coaching. This immediately turned things around because as their life began to change, they experienced the benefit, not just tried to imagine it.

This applies equally to financial planning.

If you try to sell it as a concept, as my client was doing, a lot of people will struggle to see how it could work for them because there is no context.

Who cares about the idea of something? What clients want to know is “Will it help me get what I want?”  

The question I asked my client was, “Why have you stopped being yourself?”

The penny dropped. She realised she had been over-thinking it and simply went back to what she was already good at – connecting with people, being interested in them, asking questions, and listening.

What she found was that clients interest went up and the financial planning engagements were selling themselves.


Because it was all about the client, in the context of their lives. The adviser did not need to try and convince them of anything. When people get clear about what they really want the motivation to take action is already built into it.

P.S. Should you take on every client or should you turn some way?  You can read my post ‘Turning clients away – is it good for business?’ by clicking here.

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