Positioning the Benefits

It was a brilliant, blue-sky-with-yellow-leaves September Saturday afternoon. With other parents, I was standing on a soccer field sideline, watching the town's high school soccer team scrimmage another team. The talk was loose and easy - how was your summer, do you think the Red Sox will beat the Yankees, what classes is your son in, what are you going to do about college applications. The usual, spiced up by some chatter about the economy and the looming impact of college tuition bills on family finances.

As I was chatting tuition with one of the dads standing next to me, someone I’ve known for a while as a soccer dad, he asked me, “Where is your son applying to college?” After I told him, he said, “That’s great! What are you doing to pay off your mortgage faster to reduce your interest bill? That could help pay for a lot of tuition.”

“Two extra payments a year, we have about 12 years left,” I replied.  “That’s good,” he confirmed. “And there’s a way you could do it faster. Like, maybe reduce the number of years by a third.”

“REALLY?” I was shocked. “How do you do that?”

“Well,” he said, “this has been done fairly routinely in Europe and Australia for a number of years, and the company I work with has developed a program for the U.S. market. I’ve been working with it for several years.”

“No kidding!  That’s amazing!”

He shared some additional information, then said, “If it’s something you might be interested in, let’s meet one night for an hour and I’ll show you how it works.”

Long story short, it took me four months to get to the first meeting with him, and several more weeks to complete the paper work. Every three weeks or so during that time,  he would ping me with an email or a phone call to remind me about the interest savings, prompt me to complete the paper work, or ask me whether I would like to see additional information about the program.

Finally, I completed and mailed him the paper work.  He sent me back an email saying,

“Nick, Fantastic.  Let me know how the process goes, and congratulations on making a decision that will save you over $80,000 interest and 42 months off your mortgage!    Jim”

I loved receiving that email. I was (and am) excited about the savings that are coming.

Three points stood out for me in working with Jim.

1)      His  approach. He gently leaked his approach into a conversation that was already happening anyway.  I didn’t feel “prospected.”  He asked a question that fit into the conversation, assessed my curiosity about the benefits of his program, and then gently offered to share more information with me. Smooooooth.

2)      His persistent support. During the months prior to our first meeting, when I was distracted by the rest of life,  and after I’d said I’d like to move forward, he prompted, encouraged, and reminded me about the program with telephone calls and emails and with short nudges when I’d see him at high school events.

3)      His finish. After I committed and sent him the paperwork and my check to sign up for the program, he re-stated the benefits VERY EXPLICITLY — $80,000 in interest, 42 months – to encourage me to activate. Once again, I felt excited. I felt a nice little “zing” when I re-read the potential savings in the program. It was a wonderful “cap” to the process.

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