What’s Your Biggest Challenge? Powerful Questions to Truly Engage
If you want to truly engage a prospect or client, instead of talking, it is actually more critical to listen.
The key with engagement is interaction. Most (and I really mean most) people are focused on themselves and are more than ready to talk about themselves and their products. But how do you get the other person to begin talking?
Great questions lead to great interaction and will allow you to be in control of the conversation while gaining all the benefits of listening and learning about the other person. But sometimes the questions we ask just don’t work.
Asking Questions Effectively
If you ask the wrong questions, you’ll probably get the wrong answer, or at least not quite what you were hoping for. By using the right questions in a particular situation, you can improve a whole range of communications skills. You can gather better information and learn more, build stronger relationships, manage people more effectively, help others to learn; and most importantly, create lasting connections.
The key is to take a typical question you ask, but ask it with a few extra words. When adding certain words, you create what we call a Big Question. A Big Question is one that requires an answer, opens up conversation, and allow you to create the connection that happens when you listen.
Questions that are asked of a prospect, like “How is Your Health?” typically results in a bit of a lie. “Good, fine” the prospect says, because he or she is not sure they want to do business with you yet much less engage by divulging this information. But, if they began talking about things that are important to them, and in the case of health that we really need to know in order to put together a financial strategy, the results are positive. On average a person will give you 5 answers to one question – as opposed to zero answers. While they are talking you are connecting, developing a relationship, and learning.
Big questions use absolute words including One, Biggest, Favorite, Best, Worst, Only, etc.
Examples of Big Questions to Ask:
- “What is your biggest health concern?” (Instead of “How’s your health?”)
- “I know your business has received a lot of awards – what was the most meaningful one to you?”
- “What’s your biggest challenge?”
- Or, if you’re in a competitive situation ask, “What is the one thing you wished your current advisor would do?” This will usually give you everything you need to know.
The key is to ask a question that requires an answer so you can listen in to something important to THEM.
Retirement Planning Has Its Limits: How to Prepare
Retirement planning is one of the issues that commonly leads clients to consult financial advisers. One of its essential aspects is creating a plan to save and invest in order to provide a comfortable retirement income. Ideally, this starts many years ahead of retirement, even as early as your first paycheck.
As retirement comes closer, planning for it expands to take in a host of other considerations, such as deciding when to retire, where to live, and what kind of lifestyle you hope to have. When retirement becomes a reality, the focus shifts to carrying out the plan.
All of this planning is crucial. Yet, for both financial advisers and clients, it's good to keep in mind that planning has its limits. In the post-retirement years, it may be helpful to think in terms of preparing for old age rather than planning for it.
The older we get, the more important this distinction between planning and preparing becomes. Too many life-changing things can happen without regard to our best-laid plans. Often they occur unexpectedly, resulting in emergency situations where urgent decisions have to be made. A stroke or a fall, a diagnosis of terminal illness, a broken hip that leaves someone unable to go back to independent living—and suddenly, right now, the family needs to find an assisted living facility, arrange for live-in help, or sell a home.
What are some of the ways to prepare for these contingencies?
- Explore housing options well ahead of time. Find out what assisted living, home care, and nursing home services and facilities are available where you live and whether they have waiting lists. Have family conversations about possibilities like relocating or sharing households.
- Research the financial side of these options. Investigate the cost of hiring help at home, assisted living facilities, and nursing care centers. Find out what is and is not covered by Medicare and long-term care insurance. For example, people are sometimes surprised to learn that Medicare does not pay for nursing home care other than short-term medical stays.
- Designate someone to take over decision-making, and do the paperwork. Execute documents like a living will, medical power of attorney, and contingent power of attorney. Update them as necessary, and give copies to your doctors, your financial planner, and appropriate family members.
- Start relatively early to downsize. Well before you're ready to let go of possessions or move into smaller housing, start considering what to do with your "stuff." Focus on the decisions rather than the distribution. There's no need to get rid of possessions prematurely, but decide what you want to do with them—and put in writing. Do this while it's still your choice, rather than something your family members do while you're in the hospital or nursing home
- Do your best to practice flexibility and acceptance. No matter how strongly you want to live in your own home until the end of your life, for example, it may not be possible. The physical limitations of aging can limit our choices, and even the best options available may not be what we would like them to be. It is a profound gift to yourself and your family members to accept these realities with as much grace as you can muster.
Finally, please don't underestimate the importance of planning financially for retirement. Because the bottom line is that you can't plan for all the things that might happen as you age, but you can prepare to deal with them. One of the most useful tools to cope with those contingencies is having enough money.
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