Is It the Drill or the Hole?

shutterstock_122010805Private Wealth | Jul-Aug 2013

Editor’s Note by Hannah Shaw Grove

I recently spoke to an esteemed group of high-end insurance specialists about best practices. Afterward, I was approached by a charming 47-year veteran of the business who told me about another speaker he’d heard many years ago who had a simple, but profound message that could benefit all wealth advisory professionals. This is what he told me…

When he entered the room where his next session was scheduled, he saw an oversize screen at the front displaying a large picture of a power drill. Hoping he hadn’t mistakenly wandered into a DIY workshop on installing cabinetry, he double-checked that he was in the right place, saw that he was and took a seat. As other people arrived, they too noticed the screen and the picture and commented softly to their colleagues. Eventually the room filled and all the seats were taken, but there didn’t appear to be a facilitator or speaker among them. And no one had yet claimed the image at the front of the room, which seemed at odds with the nature and content of the conference.

As the clock ticked on, side conversations began to dwindle and he and his fellow attendees began to look around for answers. Just then, a woman stood up and said loudly “Hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of drills are sold to people every year by Home Depot, Lowes, Ace Hardware and other home improvement stores.” She walked to the front of the room and stood blocking the picture, pausing to look around and meet the eyes of her audience. “But those people don’t want drills… they want holes.“

Hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of drills are sold to people every year by Home Depot. But those people don’t want drills… they want holes.

 Let’s face it⎯sometimes we’re just too focused on the drill. We spend hours developing lengthy presentations, pitch books, dissertations and proposals that deconstruct the drill as if our audience were a bunch of enthusiasts. We proudly recite where its manufactured, by whom and with what materials, how much power it has, never hesitating to go into painstaking detail on features like bits and chucks, cords and battery packs, speeds and directions, without ever really focusing on what using a drill can mean for its owner.

The speaker’s point, of course, is that sometimes we focus too much on how we do our jobs rather than why we do our jobs, how we can do our jobs more consistently and effectively, and what a job well done can mean to a client. It’s an interesting premise and one that our research supports. High-net-worth clients feel more satisfied with and loyal to the professionals that explain their expertise and recommendations in ways that are meaningful and useful to the client, prioritizing the results they want over the process we use.

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