Q & A: Questions and Authorship

by Maxwell Schmitz Questions can be a powerful tool of persuasion. Of course, there is a right way to do it...and a wrong way. Most computer programs are essentially based on a series of questions: "If input is A, then output is X; if input is B, then output is Y." Many people have crafted a sales conversation into a structured way of pigeonholing a client into a clear path to buying a product that they may not actually need. All it takes is a dedicated program of questions-and-answers, and impeccable execution. The problem is that many prospective clients will have their guard up when they are blindsided by the conversation around Disability Income or Long-Term Care. Then it can lead to back-and-forth sparring of "logical" arguments and unscientific perceptions of risk. This is unfortunate and impractical. It simply doesn't work. This is the wrong way. The right way consists of a real conversation. It's as simple as asking about someone's plans for the future, following by a genuine series of clarifying questions about the potential road blocks that could get in the way of their hopes for the future. Naturally, a disabling illness or injury followed by a loss of income could be an impediment to anyone's plans/goals/dreams. When you allow a client to craft an answer you are giving them authorship over the conversation. Once you allow your client to become the author, all you have to do is provide the name of the chapters (aka your topics of conversation). Then let them write their own solutions. For example, if you pick up on a clue that your client deeply cares for the welfare of their employees, then Group Disability may be a helpful chapter to introduce by asking the client, "Describe what income security looks like for these employees, and what would it take to get there." Coach them along with other thoughtful questions, but not in a manipulative way. Keep it thoughtful and contemplative, and always adapt to the needs that they express. Like any dance, or a reverent match of jiu-jitsu, this takes practice. Do not meet the client with resistance or an overbearing need to steer, but allow them to explore their thoughts, always bringing it back to the conversation about risk protection. Take joy in this conversation. You are learning more about your client, building rapport, and making yourself a better advisor. Take pride in knowing that you are probably the first to help them write this book, so embrace your role as your client's editor.