Hegna's Hotseat

Stop Selling and Start Storytelling


’d like to share a story with you that I heard from Dick Austin, a friend and colleague of mine. Once upon a time, a group of friends in the Northeast decided that they wanted to see the desert for the first time. So, they flew to California, rented a van, and took a road trip through the desert in Nevada and Arizona. At first, everything went well. The scenery was breathtaking and the car's air conditioning kept the friends cool as they drove through the desert.

As the morning stretched into the afternoon, someone noticed the gas tank was running out. Then, the friends saw a road sign that said, "Next gas station: 100 miles." Suddenly, the mood in the car changed. Everyone became irritable, almost on the verge of panic. They turned off the A/C to save fuel, which caused the nice sunshine to become overbearingly hot. The scenery no longer mattered. Everyone was fixated on the fuel gauge, arguing about whether to speed up or slow down and what to do when the car inevitably broke down in the middle of the desert. They all knew they were going to run out of gas – they just didn’t know when.

This story is a great metaphor for how some people live through retirement. They spend their retired years worrying, arguing, and never having any fun because their eyes are fixated on their “gas gauge” (retirement savings) as it goes down, down, down. They know they will run out of money; they just don't know when! This is what I call living in a “just in case” retirement. To avoid breaking down in the desert, you need to have guaranteed sources of fuel for the car. Having a lifetime income annuity is just like having a guaranteed ¼ tank of gas for the whole drive.

Storytelling is one of the best methods I've seen in the field for helping someone grasp complicated financial concepts or products. The insurance business is not a knowledge business. It is a words, language, and stories business! Storytelling allows you to break complicated concepts down until they are so simple that a small child could understand them. When you educate your clients through stories, you're making a connection with them, and that connection creates trust.

I’m sure some of you are thinking to yourselves, "Tom, what are you talking about? Storytelling? I'm a financial advisor, not Stephen King!" But here's the thing: our clients don't understand this business. No matter how we explain it, some people just can't wrap their heads around annuities and the importance of life insurance without stories or metaphors. It's not their fault and it's not your fault, either. However, it is your responsibility to help them understand, and storytelling is a great way to simplify those complicated concepts.

I worked with several other financial professionals when I was writing my book Retirement Income Masters: Secrets of the Pros. In each chapter of the book, a different Master shares their secrets, stories, and advice for finding success in their field. I’d highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to incorporate storytelling more into their business. Pick up a single copy if you’ve never read it before or place a bulk order to share the book with your whole office!

See you after checkout,

-Tom Hegna

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