A young financial adviser sits down to write a marketing letter destined for one man. This young financial adviser often writes about how he became enlightened to the need of professional financial advisers. His light bulb moment came while he was still in high school. He witnessed his parents suffer through the financial crash of 2007. His college fund, which was enough to carry him through four years, evaporated in less than a month.
Did you notice the subtlety that led to his letter being rejected? He assumed his reality was “the right one” and that everyone else would obviously share his reality. I’m paraphrasing psychologist Lee Ross’s “Naïve Realism.” He describes it as the belief we see the world in an objective manner without bias and that there is a one to one relationship with our perception of the world and what the world really is. Anyone who doesn’t agree with that reality is either biased, corrupted or mistaken for some other reason.
The Big Screwup
And that’s where our young financial adviser screwed up.
You see, the man he is writing to adheres to a different form of reality. It’s one which he believes is the only one that’s correct. This man was forty-seven years old at the time of the last crash. He ran a successful business and had a sizable nest egg of three million dollars which he invested with a competent financial adviser. One year later he saw that nest egg cut in half. Many of the exotic investments he became entangled with were worthless. He was convinced that his reliance on “professional” advisers was a mistake and he was better off managing his own money.
Fast forward ten years later and he has an even bigger nest egg after reaching new successes with his business. It’s beyond his ability to manage but he fears the “professional” who thinks he knows more than he does. He fears signing up with someone who became corrupted by the financial crisis.
So now we have this disconnect. Our young adviser communicates that he became enlightened by the financial crisis. His prospect fears advisers who got into the business after being corrupted by the financial crisis. Enlightened versus corrupted. Two different realities. Both are the only correct realities from each person’s perspective.
He’s A Gonner!
It doesn’t really matter what else the adviser communicates. Writing “Enlightened by the financial crisis” clashes with his prospects belief. There is no recovery. He’s singing the tune of a reality his prospect does not agree with.
If he had taken the time to learn about his prospect and ask the right questions he may have been able to avoid it or re-frame in a way that his prospect would connect with. This is why bombarding your prospect or audience with proof often fails. No amount of proof will convince someone to believe you if your perception of reality does not match theirs.
If you don’t believe me, answer this: When was the last time you convinced a friend or family member of the opposite political spectrum that they’re political opinions were wrong?
We all look at rocks and call them rocks. We all look at the sun and call it the sun. When we get to more abstract concepts like beliefs, morals or politics we begin to diverge and that’s where we can run into trouble.
So what could our young adviser have done differently? A more successful approach would have been to present it in a way that conforms to his prospects views or present from a perspective of shared beliefs. How do you do that? That’s a topic for another day.