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Value Creation Blog

Choice Is Good….Or, Is It?

Posted by Josh Patrick

ChoicesI know you want lots of choices.  You’ve never had the experience of going into the grocery store to get a jar of mustard, stared at fifty different types of mustard and walked out with nothing.  If you haven’t, I have.  I bet that if it wasn’t mustard it was something you wanted to buy where there were just too many choices.

The truth is we really don’t want a lot of choices.

We’ve been taught the more choice the better.  When you take time to think about whether lots of choice is good, you’ll probably feel differently.  If you’re like me when you ask for a recommendation, you want one, not three to choose from.

In our industry, or for that matter in all of the advice fields, it seems providers have a need to give their clients several choices.  If I ask you for advice about what accountant you suggest, I don’t want a list and then have to vet them.  I’m asking you because I want to you to suggest the one that will be the best for my situation.

The more choices the more confused we become.

There have been several studies that show the more investment choices in 401(k) plans the lower the participation rate in the plan.  This is true in almost any activity where you are forced to choose.

If your goal is to confuse your customers, give them lots of choices.  Alternately, if you provide lots of choices, make sure you have a method for helping your customers choose the right ones for them.  Doesn’t that make more sense?

If you’re going to give good advice you have to ask good questions.

Our job as business owners is to help our employees and customers have fewer choices they have to make.  It’s our job to cull through the options our customers have.  It’s our job to ask questions so we can make suggestions that fit our customers needs.

When there are lots of choices one of two things often happen:  First, the salesperson will make a suggestion that is not the right one for their customer.  This happens when the salesperson makes an assumption before asking questions about what their customer wants.  The second thing that can happen is the customer just gets confused and walks away.

We need to simplify the process.

We spend years trying to become experts in what we do.  We need to own our expertise and learn how to communicate with others so they can understand.  Too often experts want to show us how smart they are.  They want to give you the full smorgasbord of options. 

What if instead your expert gave you an outline of what problem you were trying to solve and then checked in with you to make sure they understood the problem correctly.  Then, and only then, they would give you what they thought was the solution you should use and the product you would buy. 

Asking, testing what you heard, and then suggesting is what people really want.  Let’s get rid of the need to provide choice on everything.  Our job is to analyze and then suggest.  Make sure you don’t forget to analyze.  Suggest what you think is the best solution.  I bet your customers will thank you if you make it easy for them to decide.

One of the thing things we make too complicated is the financial planning process.  I’ve written a white paper I call the Four Boxes of Financial Independence.  This is a pretty easy way to evaluate your financial situation and find out if you’re on the right track.  To get this report, click on the button below.


Securities and Investment Advisory Services offered through NFP Securities, Inc. (NFPSI), Member FINRA/SIPC. Stage 2 Planning Partners and NFPSI are not affiliated.

This article is published for residents of the United States only.  Registered Representatives and Investment Adviser Representatives of NFP Securities, Inc. may only conduct business with residents of the states and jurisdictions in which they are properly registered.  Therefore, a response to a request for information may be delayed.  Not all of the products and services referenced on this site are available in every state and through every representative or advisor listed.

Topics: business coaching, value creation, personal value

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