I’ve talked before about how instead of being shrouded and veiled, advisors should come across in a more human and relatable way with clients and prospects. But how raw can get you before you step over the line –is it okay to cry in front of clients? Sometimes the authenticity can say more about your authenticity than any marketing pitch.
The Tears were Not Scripted
When I was an advisor years ago, I had a client who was a young couple that was expecting their first child. I had recently sold them an insurance policy when the wife was in the end of her second trimester. When I called the wife’s office to confirm something about her application, her secretary said that the woman had been rushed to the hospital earlier that week. She had given birth two months early apparently due to a bout of preeclampsia.
I stared at the receiver, stunned, unable to believe what I had heard.
A baby can survive as early as 22 weeks in gestation, but being so severely premature there are serious risks to both the baby and mother’s lives. As someone who had recently had a child, I felt this pain so deeply. It was always my worst fear that I would suffer a misfortune like this during my pregnancy.
I immediately called the husband who answered who very stoically told me what had happened. He sounded so catatonic as if he were in a state of shock. As I tried to discuss their insurance coverage, I couldn’t get the words out without breaking down and crying while my client remained silent on the other end of the line. I felt so selfish getting emotional in front of him. And what gave me the right to get so upset anyways? These people weren’t my family, for goodness sake, this was a business relationship!
I was overjoyed a few weeks later I received word that the mother and baby had recovered. The wife was home but the baby had to stay at the hospital for a few weeks. The next of our interactions were far more lighthearted. I gave them a baby gift and we continued on with our relationship but it was different. Whereas before they had been a little stand-offish, it was as if they had seen my true colors. They were warmer and more open with me as their advisor, all because of this experience where I had inadvertently shown them my raw emotion. Nothing I ever said about finance could have moved them this way.
What I took away from that experience is that being professional doesn’t mean you have to be a robot. Sometimes it doesn’t go according to the script when your heart takes over, but it’s those moments where clients feel you present as a human being in their lives. Once in a great while it may be exactly what they need.