Educating Clients Is Not Your Job

  • Knowledge is only useful if put into action.
  • Wisdom is what makes knowledge productive.
  • When a client agrees there is a problem, then present a solution.

I once had an agent partner tell me that he believed his job was to educate his clients. This was his response when I tried to coach him on the importance of having an effective sales process. He believed that if you just educated the client on products and options, they would act on that information.

He had his own “sales” process of educating clients he used for the last 20 years of his career with mediocre results but with enough success to pay the bills and make a decent living. He was coming to me because he wanted to improve his results. Isn’t it interesting how our human nature allows us to know what we need but not receive information that challenges our status quo?

Have you ever known someone smart and not so smart at the same time? That probably describes all of us somehow, but I am sure you have had experiences where you are trying to help someone, and they refuse to help themselves. Knowledge is only useful if put into action. Wisdom is the process of taking knowledge and applying action towards a worthwhile benefit. In other words, wisdom is what makes knowledge productive.

So, in that context, let me ask this question, “Is it wise to educate clients without any compulsion to influence their actions?”

Our best intentions lead us to educate our clients, but the problem is that education without action is a process with no conclusion. I have been in the insurance industry for around three decades, and every day I come to work I am learning something new. There is no end to financial education, not for us and not for our clients. How are we ever going to educate a client enough for them to make their own decisions? What cost are we willing to accept for that process to play out?

In my opinion, that cost is too high. I do not have unlimited time, and neither does the client.  Does that mean that a client should not gain knowledge through the sales process? Of course not! It is not if, but when and how much that matters.

Educating your clients on financial matters before you know how knowledge applies to their situation is like the tail wagging the dog. Your understanding of your clients, their problems, and how those problems need to be solved must come first. This is where you then present a solution to those problems. It is only when a client agrees there is a problem that a solution should be presented. Moreover, only when a client agrees to a numerical solution can education on how that solution was created should be explained. To make my point, education is the tail, not the dog, and the tail should never wag the dog.

Reprinted with permission from the 2021 online edition of ThinkAdvisor © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All rights reserved. Further duplication without permission is prohibited. For information, contact 877-256-2472 or

Written by anthony-owen

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