November 18, 2007

Expectations Change Experiences: What Do You Call Yourself?

You meet a prospective manager for your money. You decide she seems smart. And so she is. --- Harry Beckwith, What Clients Love
Harry Beckwith writes about the placebo effect in What Clients Love, the followup to Selling The Invisible, his brilliant book about services.
We have the experiences we expect to have based on the perceptions we have before those experiences. Our perceptions create our expectations and those expectations so influence our experience that we can say this: Our expectations change our experiences. --- Harry Beckwith
Snap judgments stick, as confirmed in Blink by Malcolm Gladwell. So we want to do what we can to create the right first impressions and overcome stereotypes. That involves how we look, dress, talk and move. No surprises there. What about how we label ourselves?

Pity Financial Planners
Beckwith observes that "financial" matters are private and sensitive. Similarly, "planning" sounds tedious and difficult, resulting in mandated steps that reduce freedom. Now combine "financial" and "planning". Who wants to see a financial planner? Let's be honest.

(click to enlarge
Common Titles
Scanning through my database of contacts, here's a sampling of what advisors call themselves, alphabetically
  • agent
  • associate broker
  • consultant, insurance services
  • (corporate title, e.g., vice president)
  • estate and insurance planning specialist
  • estate planning advisor
  • estate planning specialist
  • financial advisor
  • financial broker
  • financial consultant
  • financial planner
  • financial planning advisor
  • insurance broker
  • insurance specialists
  • investment advisor
  • investment funds advisor
  • life insurance agent
  • life underwriter
  • (none)
  • regional insurance specialist
  • sales representative
How our clients perceive us is influenced by our title, along with our pen, briefcase, watch and hair.
"All those are on one side. Maybe some of them are unimportant. I won't argue about that. But look at the number of them." --- Humphrey Bogart, The Maltese Falcon

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