Giving you the right track to run on

A fortnightly pearl of wisdom to fast track your success

CHRISISM #63 - Disturb / Reassure

10 April 2018

Disturb Reassure


This is an age-old sales technique that works by pressing your client’s emotional hot buttons and it is especially effective in the risk advice client engagement process.


The psychology behind this technique is to initially plant a ‘thought bubble’ in the client’s head of    “Oh dear – I’m in trouble”, closely followed by another ‘thought bubble’ of “Phew! It’s ok”, thereby creating or outlining a potential problem and almost immediately providing a solution, and this establishes the perception in your client’s mind that you are a problem solver not a problem creator.

You can probably think of many situations where you use the “disturb/reassure” techniques in situations outside of a business context. For example, when leaving the house with your partner, you notice that he/she does not pick up the house keys on the way out as he/she normally does, so you decide to play a little game. You pick up the keys yourself and put them in your pocket. As you’re driving away from the house, you casually ask “You’ve got the house keys, haven’t you?” (DISTURB!), and after a suitably remorseful response and a bit of a pause, you say “Don’t worry – I’ve got them” (REASSURE!).

So let’s have a look at an example of “disturb/reassure” that you can use in your client engagement process and once you get the picture, I’m sure you will be able to think of lots of other potential uses of this technique when engaging with your clients.

The example I’ll use is on the Fact Find, when you have helped your client verbalise what financial outcomes they would want in the ‘what if’ scenario of illness or accident, you now need to know what they already have in the way of protection for this scenario, so the first question to ask them is:- “ Ok, so let’s see how you’re travelling – firstly how much of this ‘Income Protection’ stuff have you already got?” (DISTURB!) The reason this question creates exposure is because the implication of the question is “Obviously you’ve already got some Income Protection, but exactly how much have you got?” So the client thinks “Oh God! I should already have some”, and when he/she admits that they haven’t got any (which may take a few bites at the cherry due to the exposure felt by the client), you then say “That’s fine, so we’re starting from scratch – no problem whatsoever” (REASSURE!), and your client thinks “Phew! Thank heavens it’s ok to be starting from scratch!”

Hopefully you can appreciate the difference between the ‘disturb’ question “How much of this ‘Income Protection’ stuff do you already have?” and the alternative of “So do you already have any Income Protection?”, which doesn’t create any exposure and simply implies that some people do and some people don’t – which are you?  

So before you ask your clients a particular question with no element of ‘disturb’ within it, consider whether there may be an alternative question you could ask which creates an element of ‘exposure’ – and become a problem solver for your clients.

The Risk Workshop by Chris Unwin

Are you a financial adviser who would like all of your clients to have appropriate types and levels of personal protection? But perhaps you feel you need a more structured and client friendly engagement process?