Our system produces 3 different reports. The first report is called a "Life Resource Survey Report." The second report is called a "Retirement Planning Survey Report." The third report is called a "Life Resource Analysis Report." In this article we will discuss how to present a Life Resource Survey Report." In Article #16 we will discuss how to present a Retirement Planning Survey Report. And in Article #17 we will discuss the way that you produce a Life Resource Analysis and how to present the report from it.
The most important thing to keep in mind when you present any one of these 3 reports is to avoid your typical sales approach. You must not bring up specific products in the presentation, nor must you hammer away at your clients if they don’t agree to your assessment of their problems and your potential solutions. In other words if your solutions include your products and services – even though you don’t mention them – please don’t try and force them into a decision that you think they should make. Give them enough information and give them good reasons why they should adopt your solutions, but don’t employ typical closing strategies to make them do it.
If you are firmly convinced that they need a solution that uses your products and services, then you should have such convincing evidence and such a convincing knowledge of the subject that the only argument they can give you is it doesn’t "feel right." What this means is you must be the consummate expert in this area and leave them with such an overriding impression of your knowledge that they will adopt your way of doing it. Understand elder issues thoroughly.
Here are the steps that you should take to prepare yourself for the presentation and to make the presentation meaningful to your clients and productive for you.
Use a professional Binder or Cover with Abundant Learning Support Materials
Presenting your Life Resource Survey in a professional manner with supporting learning resource documents in a binder or in a professional looking cover will greatly enhance your relationship with your planning clients. We call these supporting documents "learning pieces."
Most of our new life resource planners ask the question, "Why should there be so much?" Meaning, why should there be over 65 pages of planning pages and learning pieces in one option or 210 pages inserted into a three ring binder in another option? Would it not be much better to provide less information and not overwhelm the client? Besides, the client will never read or even understand all of this material.
Our purpose is deliberate. We have learned it over many years doing this kind of planning.
None of the learning piece material we provide is irrelevant, and if the client or the client's children really wanted to read it all – which some actually do – it provides valuable information. But that is not our primary purpose. We want the client to believe that we have devoted a great amount of time and effort into producing this planning report with its learning pieces and that it is unique to our client. This is basic psychology. The more valuable it looks to the client, the more likely a client will develop trust in you. And this trust carries over to the recommendations that you make. The more impressed the client is, the more likely he or she will implement your recommendations.
After having done a few plans, most of our planners are surprised that their clients treat the planning report as a valuable possession and actually will use it and read it and share it with other members of the family to proudly show what they have accomplished.
The first option below would be the least expensive for you to put together in a presentation report. A presentation cover that has a three hole retainer in it and separation tabs for the three separate sections of your report might cost around $3.00 to $5.00. The printed materials comprise approximately 65 pages. Five or six of the pages require color printing, but the remainder are black and white reproductions. Printing or copying the printed materials might cost you an additional $5.00 to $6.00. If you are not charging a planning fee, you may ask your clients to reimburse you for your time and your materials to present the report. Perhaps $50.00 or $75.00. Obviously your time is worth more, but by charging, you avoid creating suspicion in their minds that you have ulterior motives since you are obviously incurring some costs and they will quietly question why you are doing it without pay. See Article #14 for more details on this assembly process.
This second option below represents more cost for your report presentation. The binder and tabs might cost you about $8.00 to $10.00 and the printing costs for approximately 210 pages of presentation documentation might cost an additional $14.00 to $16.00. Again, if you choose not to charge a fee for this enhanced presentation, you might choose to ask your clients to pay you for the cost of materials and your time to allay any suspicions that you have ulterior motives. Perhaps $90.00 to $100.00. See Article #14 for more details on this assembly process.
The learning piece inserts illustrated in the images above are discussed in more detail in Article #14
Make Sure You Have the Knowledge to Discuss the Issues Found in the Report
One sure way to impress your planning clients is to have a thorough knowledge of the issues that they are facing. The reason you are doing this planning approach for them is that they don’t have the knowledge or background they need to solve their own challenges. In fact, the sort of knowledge that you need to have is not generally possessed by any one person in the community.
The whole purpose of this planning is to provide a unique approach to solving aging senior issues. Eldercare advice and senior services are fragmented through different practitioners in the community. You are providing a one-stop source of information and advice. If you don’t have the background, we provide you the resources to obtain this background.
The planning system comes with a textbook entitled "How to Deal with 21 Critical Issues Facing Aging Seniors." If you have any questions about any of the recommendations in the planning report, please look them up in the textbook and be prepared. If you have the proper knowledge, your clients will be impressed and they will likely follow your advice. If you appear not to have the proper knowledge, just the opposite will occur. They will not see you as credible and they will likely not follow your lead.
In addition to the textbook, the learning pieces that you include in your planning report are extremely good sources of knowledge for you. You should read them and be familiar with their content. That material alone will give you a good background to understand eldercare issues and the solutions that you can recommend. You need to have an understanding of what is contained in the learning pieces, because you are going to describe them to your clients when you do your presentation. Be prepared.
Put on Your Planning Hat and Be Objective
As we have mentioned many times before, don’t be trapped into talking products or services that you provide. Give your clients an objective assessment of where they stand. Impress them with your knowledge of the various issues. Help them to understand the challenges they are facing.
By taking a solution-based, planning approach instead of a product or service oriented approach, you will gain your clients’ respect, you will develop a rapport with them and they will trust you. Then when you want to talk about products and services after the planning phase is completed, they will listen to you.
Point out That the Recommendations and Strategies Are Grouped into Similar Categories
A typical report might include 10 to 15 different recommendations and strategies for discussion. This is certainly an overwhelming number to handle and could be confusing to your clients. We want to point out that these recommendations and strategies are really parts of certain key categories. There are only 5 of these key categories. You want to point this out to your clients as well. By doing it this way, you can concentrate on a few of the issues that need to be addressed in each category and leave some of the other issues for a later time. We discuss below creating a checklist to address the most important issues. This is also an important strategy for getting them to implement your solutions.
Here are all of the 29 issues that can be addressed in a Life Resource Survey and the categories that they fit into.
The Learning Piece – "The Family Care Plan and Caregiving Agreement"
Most of the aging senior clients for which you will be producing reports will have a need for long term care services or as it’s commonly called, eldercare. In many cases, families have conflicting ideas on how to take care of their loved ones. With this planning approach, you are primarily dealing with children of the aging seniors or with younger family members. This particular learning piece is extremely valuable in helping children or other family members get together and determine together how they will handle decisions relating to eldercare for their loved ones.
Sometimes, family members are in dispute over caregiving as well as experiencing jealousies against caregivers or family representatives who are receiving mom or dad’s income or have access to assets. These disputes can also develop after the death of a loved one due to perceptions that one of the children was favored or took advantage of the inheritance. This learning piece also addresses this issue of potential disputes and provides valuable advice to facilitate a family caregiving agreement.
Please understand this piece thoroughly so that you can describe it to your clients. Stress the importance of planning if there is a misunderstanding, conflicting attitudes or dispute over caregiving issues. In our experience, those families who need this sort of guidance have been extremely grateful for this learning piece and how it helped them to solve their caregiving challenges.
The Learning Piece – "Government Solutions for Eldercare"
In order to save you money in putting together a report presentation, we provide you this condensed document that is an excerpt from the larger document titled "Understanding the Fundamentals of Life Resource Planning" that we discuss below. Ideally you should put together a presentation with the larger learning piece and not use this condensed version. However, we give you this option if you strongly feel that you do not want to spend the money on a larger and more comprehensive report binder. We discuss this idea in more detail in Article #14.
The Learning Piece – "Understanding the Fundamentals of Life Resource Planning"
This learning piece was written exclusively for incorporation into a planning report presentation. It covers in great detail all of the issues facing aging seniors as well as addressing the various community resources that are available to address these issues. You should definitely thumb through this with your clients and show them how valuable this piece is to them.
We have found over the years that those clients who read this material are extremely impressed with it and offer their gratitude for the resources we have provided them. Make sure your clients understand that this is a very valuable learning piece and that they can go to if they have any questions or need direction.
Allow Your Clients to Prioritize the Various Recommendations and Strategies
We also employ a unique approach to making the recommended solutions. It is our experience that most planners not using our system summarize their recommendations or strategies on a single page or two in the form of an outline or a checklist. Our approach is a little different. A typical life resource questionnaire might result in 10 or 15 recommendations or strategies. The recommendations are also presented as paragraphs that not only provide a possible course of action but also include education on why they should take that course of action. Please understand that we only make recommendations that as a result of the questionnaire, apply to the client in some way.
This recommendation solution strategy is also basic psychology. By giving them a number of choices, they can pick out those ones they feel are important. The concept here is to impress upon your clients that given a list of various choices, they must make some decision as to which of those choices they should take. It forces them to make decisions as they know they cannot reject everything you give them. This planning process allows them to make the decisions themselves instead of your trying to make those decisions for them.
This strategy also makes them personally involved in the planning and creates more trust in your recommendations. Instead of your dictating to them, they are cooperating in the outcome. The end result of this strategy is that they will almost always follow a certain number – but not all of – the presentation recommendations and feel good about it.
Once they have decided the priority of the recommendations, you will make a checklist for them and follow up to make sure that everything has been implemented.
Provide Referrals or Appointments with the Appropriate Providers or Advisers
One advantage to your taking a comprehensive planning approach to help aging seniors with the challenges they are facing is that you can provide a one-stop shopping service for all of the solutions that they need to solve their problems. To provide this service, you need to develop a network of senior service providers and advisers in your local community who can step in and provide the appropriate services or advice.
You can either make this a formal network by adopting our local planning Council system supported by the National Care Planning Council, or you can utilize an informal network of providers or advisers. For more about a local planning Council contact us at 800-989-8137
Whichever approach you take, you need to be proactive in helping your clients get together with this network of practitioners. We suggest that you actually make the appointment with the appropriate practitioner after you have finished up with the planning but before you launch into selling your products and services. Set up a time for the family member and the provider to meet. If proper arrangements cannot be made at that time get some appropriate dates and times from your client and set up an appointment later.
You might argue that it is much easier for you simply to provide the referral and the contact information for the network provider. There is a reason for being proactive. If you can get appointments with members of your network that result in new business for these members, these practitioners will reciprocate and provide you referrals for your planning approach. This is an important source of new business for you as well.
Take off Your Planning Hat and Put on Your Sales Hat for Providing Your Solutions
If certain products or services are to be recommended to your client by you, you must make this a separate process from the planning activities and presentation. This is necessary in order to avoid a conflict of interest especially in those instances where you are selling insurance products or investment products to your client as part of the solution to the planning process.
You should not make any insurance or investment sales a part of the plan, because in these cases you may be violating some sort of federal or state code. Besides, by taking this approach, you are demonstrating your professionalism and ethical behavior to your clients and they will have that much more respect for you. If you are not already doing this, you will be surprised at how impressed they are by your upstanding behavior.
You could do the selling right after the same session in which you present the plan as long as you make it clear to your client that you are no longer doing the planning and you are wearing a different practitioner "hat." In order to identify that you are wearing a different hat, we recommend that you provide full disclosure as to what you are doing with the product or service recommendations. This means revealing that fees or commissions are involved, that they do not have to buy these products or services from you and that they have every right to engage someone else for these products or services.
You will also emphasize that the receipt of fees or commissions is not the important issue and the size of your renumeration is irrelevant to making sure your client is satisfied. You will also mention that no matter whom they might use, those same commissions or fees will be involved, and you will be able to get the same products or services for them. It will probably surprise you that with this approach, virtually none of your clients will go to anyone else for products or services.