Giving you the right track to run on

A fortnightly pearl of wisdom to fast track your success

CHRISISM #72 - The Importance of Perception

14 August 2018

The Importance of Perception

It is hard to over emphasise the importance of the role that perception plays in the client engagement process. As I pointed out in Chrisism#8, we need to be very aware of the negative perception that the terminology we use with our clients can create – thereby giving them the justification to put up the shutters and say “No!”.


Perception is everything as far as the client is concerned and we always need to remember that perception is reality in the mind of the person doing the perceiving – it really doesn’t matter whether we think they are right or wrong.

So in order to get you thinking more often about the perception you are creating in your client’s mind, I want to share with you some examples of how we can shape people’s perception of us and our business – apart from just the terminology we use:-

  - When making first appointments with potential clients, you want to create the impression that you are the busy one with loads of clients who need to see you on a regular basis, so having   identified a suitable time of day for your client, you should say:- “Well I can fit you in either at 1.15 next Tuesday or 12.45 next Thursday – which is better for you?” Not only are the words “fit you in” important, but also the times are outside the standard on the hour or half hour, which also implies a jam-packed diary.

  - Try and make sure you are always seeing a prospect for a first meeting in your office not theirs. Assuming your office is a suitably professional environment, this will reassure your client that you are not with a fly by night company and, from a perception point of view, I always remember being told when I first joined the business that “Professionals see people in their own offices – salespeople go out and see people in their offices”. Do you want to be perceived as a professional or a salesperson?

  - In my very first Chrisism I shared an engagement tool that substantially lowers the bar when overcoming the price barrier – namely the percentage concept. This involves getting your client to focus not on the dollars and cents when viewing the cost of their personal protection package, but on the percentage that the dollars and cents represent of the income they are securing. I can assure you that the percentage will always be perceived as sounding like a lot less than the dollar figure itself.

  - In Chrisism#48 I talked about the importance of physical positioning when meeting with your client, specifically sitting alongside your client rather than sitting across the other side of a desk or table from your client – thereby immediately creating the perception of teamwork and working together i.e. a “we” situation rather than a “me and you” situation.

  - Lastly, I believe we need to take every available opportunity to establish points of differentiation between ourselves and the perceived unprofessional, self-serving adviser currently being portrayed in the media. One such opportunity arises if a client reveals that they have existing policies that they have taken out in the past. With all the publicity around the “churning” epidemic in our industry, I believe this presents a great opportunity to separate ourselves from this pack by saying something like:- “ It’s important that you understand that my mission is not to undo what you have already done, but to build on what you have already got”. The sigh of relief on the part of your client is often audible!  

The above is by no means an exhaustive list of how we can create a positive perception on the part of our client, but hopefully this Chrisism has stimulated some thought processes on your part which will result in you creating a positive perception on the part of your clients more often than not.

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?