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SUCCESS Interviews

A Guest Blog by Forrest Wallace Cato

Today, I’m giving my weekly message over to Wally Cato, the acclaimed publicist and writer, who interviewed me, Tom Hopkins, and before his recent passing, Zig Ziglar.  A longer article containing the following excerpts appears in the latest Insurance Pro Shop® newsletter.  While our interviews were primarily focused on helping financial advisors, they should offer value to any professional.


The Late Zig Ziglar Says…

Cato: What is your key advice for people trying to sell financial products and services on making difficult decisions?

Zig: People often say that sales motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing. That’s why I recommend bathing often. Money isn’t the most important thing in your life, but it’s reasonably close to oxygen on your ‘got to have it’ scale. Every choice you make has an end result. Not doing what you should do is a choice. Not investing in yourself can be your choice. But these are bad choices for you. Sometimes you need to face adversity in order to force yourself to make the right choices in becoming successful. ‘Failures’ make the choice to do little or nothing that is significant. They don’t improve their skills. They do nothing more, nothing new, and nothing additional or different.

Cato: What is the main cause of most failure?

Zig: The chief cause is trading what you want most for what you want right now.

Cato: Can a sales agent improve by doing the same things over and over again?

Zig: If you are doing the right things, then yes! If you are doing the wrong things, then no! There is little improvement you can make from doing nothing, or from doing nothing more. You don’t have to be great to start. But you do have to start and continue with the right habits in order to become great.

Cato with Sandy and Zig

Sandy Schussel Says…

Cato: What do clients expect from their financial planner (advisor)?

Sandy: When I make the decision to hire a financial planner, my expectations are different than many planners might think. Sure, I want him or her to be an expert in the field. But given the choice of an expert planner who appears to like and care about me, or one who doesn’t, I’ll take the one who does every time.

A few of your clients might be watching the performance of their investments relative to the market. Most, however, don’t really know—or care—whether you’ve created the best possible plan, are delivering them the best possible performance on their investments, or even if you’ve set them up with the best possible insurance and annuity products. They want to know that they’re important to you. Dale Carnegie referred to this as being impressed, rather than being impressive.

Cato: Does an advisor have to motivate his or her clients?

Sandy: Some clients are already motivated. They want help with retirement. They know they need insurance. Unfortunately, these are the exceptions. The rest need to be motivated to do what’s right for them. A client who thinks he is prepared for retirement or believes he has enough life insurance is not likely to be motivated to do what you know is best for him.

All of your logical reasons why a client needs to have something won’t motivate a client. Nobody will take your recommendation unless he feels that it is something he wants or needs. That gives advisors at least two motivational jobs: First, to be passionate about what you’re recommending (clients will buy your passion long before they buy your solution); and second, to ask the questions that need to be asked so that they can see their need for what you’re recommending.

Cato: How much of an advisor’s work is to inform and educate his or her clients?

Sandy: Everywhere I speak, I hear advisors tell me that their job is educating their prospects and clients. Informing and educating is a part of the job, but it’s just one part. Your first tasks are establishing rapport and thoroughly understanding the client’s situation. After that, you can prepare and present a plan or solution. You should certainly inform and educate your client as to what went into the analysis and choices you’ve made, but what they really want is leadership. Too many advisors give clients a choice based on the information, when what clients really want and need is a clear recommendation based on the information. Invite your clients to learn, but lead them to the right solution.

Cato: In what ways do you recommend that an advisor strive to protect his or her clients?

Sandy: There has been a lot of controversy lately over what kind of advisor has what kind of fiduciary responsibility, and what that means. There’s also a lot of confusion about such concepts as “suitability” and “risk tolerance”. Only when someone’s account has suffered a significant loss does his real risk tolerance surface.

All the Continuing Education in the world won’t do more for you than understanding the answer to a simple question: Does what I am recommending best serve my client? If the client is going to pay a “back end” charge to switch, will she be better off when that cost is considered? Does the small client with a few dollars to invest really need a $5,000 plan?

We need to protect a risk-averse client from market volatility, but we also need to protect him or her from our own need to make money. If what we’re proposing best serves the client, it’s right. If not, it’s wrong. The best way to protect our clients is to ask this question of ourselves, again and again.


Wally Cato is an internationally renowned speaker and “Legendary Publicist” to the Financial Services Industry, who has made placements on 60 Minutes and 20/20, interviewed five US Presidents in the Oval Office, and co-authored or ghost written a total of seven books appearing on the New York Times Bestsellers List.

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