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Plan for RSP Season

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Well the holidays are over and a new year has begun. The first order of business for many of us in financial services at this time of year is to get geared up for RSP season. Many times we see companies doing a great job of developing a marketing campaign and then drop the ball when it comes to some of the finer details that will make the campaign a success.

One of those details is training the front line in what to say to the clients. Let's face it, the tellers see more people than anyone else and their ability to get an investment conversation going at the wicket can make or break a campaign.

Let's look at a couple of our least favourite things we have heard people say on the front line during RSP season:

"I'm not sure if you were aware, but it's RSP season again".
Now if I'm a client, and someone blurts that out the first thought I'm likely to have is, "Great, thanks for sharing ... no kidding, it's RSP season".

If you don't ask a question you won't get clients to take action. The first rule of starting RSP conversations is not to make statements but to ask provocative questions that get the client to think and talk.

"It's RSP season, have you made your contribution yet?"

This question is a classic – it gets used all the time. Too bad it is useless. Why? It's order taking at its finest! What are the possible answers to the question? Yes and no.

Let's look at them:
"It's RSP season, have you made your contribution yet?" Client: "Yes"

Ok, now what?? You are done! It's over. You move on to another topic like the weather or the latest movie. What have you accomplished? What do you know about the person standing in front of you? ONLY that they have contributed. What about:

- Does the client have a good retirement plan?
- Are they getting adequate returns?
- Are they worried they may not be saving enough?
- Are they thinking they should be doing more but do not have any ideas as to how to go about it?
- Are they ignoring the inevitable problem that will hit most North Americans (not having enough to retire when they want to do what they want) hoping that somehow they will be ok?

You don't know, You don't know,You don't know,You don't know.

See - bad question. You are not helping your client with a question like that you're simply looking for a quick easy sale – an "order take".

Even if you ask the same question and they say they haven't contributed yet, you still don't know anything about them and need to ask additional questions to find out.

Ok, I know I am being a little harsh here. Of course you could ask additional questions to find out more about the client's situation even after starting with the "have you contributed" question. I still think it's a bad way to start and here's why:

* It's a closed ended question that does not encourage conversation

* Even after an answer of yes or no you will have to ask additional open ended questions if you really want to find out more from the client. If that is the case, why not save time and just start with the open ended question?

* If you ask the question and the client says no, they have not contributed, the next logical question to ask would be "are you going to?" Again, this is an order taking question and really doesn't get to the root of a client's motivation to invest.

* Everyone is using it and it has lost effectiveness with clients. Some would argue it annoys clients.

Treat your clients with respect and ask good questions that start the conversation off on the right foot geared toward the real problems associated with what RSP's solve.

Remember, people don't buy RSP's, they buy what the RSP's will do for them

Why do people buy RSP's?

1. A bigger income tax refund or to reduce the amount of tax they have to pay
2. A greater sense of security knowing they will have enough money at retirement to live the life they want

OK, so what should you ask? Here are a couple of ideas:

After the client asks them how they are doing respond, "great, it's busy, it's RSP season as you know and lots of clients are thinking about investments – how are you feeling about your retirement plan?"

If you selling financial security, you only want to know one thing – how secure does the client feel about their financial future? If the client's answer has even a little bit of doubt in it then you likely have someone they should talk to that will help them feel more confident.

What about the tax saving side of the RSP investment?

After the client asks them how they are doing respond, "great, it's busy, it's getting to that time of year where lots of clients are thinking about how to reduce the amount of taxes they pay  – how are you feeling about your income tax return this year?"

You get the idea. Run with the concept and develop your own open ended questions that get the client talking about what really matters and not just answering a simple closed ended question that anyone can ask.

By the way. These questions can work just as well for lenders and investment people. Focus your questions and conversation on how the client is feeling about the situation – be it tax time or having enough money to retire – and you will find greater opportunity open up than you would by just asking about plans for contributing.

"Success in selling comes when opportunity meets preparation.
Unfortunately, when opportunity presents itself, it's too late to prepare."

Be prepared this RSP season with the most important thing you can do. Know what you will actually say to your clients to not just get the contribution, but to help them get on track with their retirement plan.

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