How to gain traction when your clients are on Pause? Think NON-linear! Adapt the Catalytic Planning Model!

by IdeaTransfer on June 9, 2011

Terry White. Is this the new reality for financial services producers?  What we have been hearing from our producer clients for over two years.  Crisis and recession sent business and affluent family clients everywhere into shells.  Short-term concerns and interim solutions overshadowed long term personal and corporate financial issues.  We expected that would change as confidence in recovery started building, but our surveys show no sign of decision-making breakthroughs.

Alan Boal. Darwin said it best.  “It’s not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the most responsive to change.  With a new reality, the best adapters will always be the survivors.  Because their clients are just waiting, most producers we talk to are also waiting.  That’s not how to master change.  The problem is clients have lost faith in the old decision model.  It will take a new decision model to master change and break through this decision paralysis.

TW. It’s not hard to see why clients are on hold.  Throughout economic crisis and recession they have been forced to take quick action to protect their business and personal finances.  They realize now how little grasp of reality governments and financial institutions possess.  They also realize how reluctant their trusted advisors have been about giving action-oriented advice.  Clients don’t want a stick-to-the-plan bromide.  Sure, there are liability and compliance issues to telling clients how you see the short term future, but there were big risks to mammals that burrowed underground when the meteor hit millions of years ago.  But those risks are manageable.  The advice gap today is a huge opportunity for producers who want to exceed client expectations and earn a breakthrough in decision paralysis.

AB. That’s right.  We remember the last big transition in client decision-making three decades ago because IdeaTransfer was instrumental in creating a new decision model.  Producers wanted out of the trap of being product sellers and captive agents.  They wanted clients to see them sitting on their side of the table.  We came up with the value message of businesses and affluent families grow, protect, and preserve net worth. What grew out of those six words was the Comprehensive Planning Model.  It was a roadmap approach that offers continuous peace of mind over decades and even generations.  No matter what a firm’s area of specialization they could quarterback the Comprehensive Planning Model and become their clients’ most trusted advisor.

TW. The economic meltdown and recession exposed a flaw in the model.  Clients were suddenly dropped into a wilderness without any roads, and they expect their advisors to take on the role of survival experts on TV—show us which plants to eat and how to build a bridge out of vines. It calls for nonlinear action.  Instead of sticking to the Comprehensive Planning Model producer firms need a nonlinear catalytic model.  The Catalytic Planning Model is the adaptation that Darwin would be looking for.

AB. Producers should rally their staff to understand that clients have problems that don’t fall into the firm’s traditional role.  But those problems are the real concerns right now, so you can’t just wait until clients want to start looking again at the long term issues that you are so expert at solving.  Helping clients resolve their concerns is one standard of a commitment to service.  You have to understand that clients aren’t waiting because they don’t want to act.  They are waiting to see which advisor shows up to help them.  And that is something the firm can always help with—bringing the right resources to clients.  That is how we designed the Catalytic Planning Model—to catalyze decisions and actions.  We want our clients to be the ones who show up.

TW. Show up with a new planning model designed for the current economic environment and the current decision mindset—a model for timely, prudent, and effective action.  You are now ready to hear what clients really need, not just what you think they need from you.  You are ready to locate the resources that will resolve the issue.  You are ready to drive the adaptive response on their behalf.  So, how does the Catalytic Planning Model work?

AB. It catalyzes decisions from a short-term perspective, oriented toward managing risks and capturing opportunities, but always with a sharp eye on the impact of these decisions on the bigger picture.  In these unprecedented and unpredictable times decisions have to be relatively simple and action-oriented.  Think of a traffic light.  You get three choices—Stop, Go, and Think About It.    That’s what clients are worried about most.  There is something they feel they should stop doing, or something they suspect they should start doing, or they need to buy a little more time to think something through.

TW. Which leads to the new catalytic role for producers, and because a lot of those decisions will be outside their corridor of expertise and licensing, other resources are required.  Those resources are not stepping up, so producers need to catalyze the resources necessary to make decisions and initiate action.  We call it Connect, Communicate, Collaborate.  Producers already have the network of professional colleagues who can solve client problems.  Now is the time to activate that network so clients have access to the resources they need.  And since producers are the best communicators in that network, they have to guide the decision process and create a collaborative environment that efficiently turns decisions into actions.

AB. Those three words are becoming the new standard for building trust.  Using the Catalytic Planning Model, you help clients break through their decision paralysis—even on issues tangential to your firm’s primary knowledge and capabilities.  And, no surprise, those decisions can be linked to decisions clients need to make that are integral to the long term perspective of the Comprehensive Planning Model.  Clients begin to feel they are not lost in the wilderness.  They are creating a plan one decision at a time.  Meanwhile, you earn the respect of your professional colleagues and earn a reputation for action.  So when recovery makes the long term perspective meaningful again, you are the one advisor who has always showed up for clients.  The one who listens to them, who understands them, who gives objective counsel, and who follows through.

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