The most basic human drive is to avoid pain and seek pleasure. It is at our core and determines most of our behaviors.

Most people do not understand why they make the decisions they do. We never really slow down or care enough to give it a lot of thought. We will do things that are bad for us because of the pleasure it delivers. At the same time we avoid things that could benefit us because of the pain they may cause.

I often think of people like a ball in a pinball machine. We are just reacting quickly to everything that life throws at us. And all too often, we let our emotions control our actions.

Let's look at a few examples of human behavior that proves the "pain/pleasure" theory.

Think about the man who is happily married but still cheats on his wife because of the short-term pleasure it delivers. This could wreck his life, but he does it anyway because he wants that pleasure fix. Consider the smoker who keeps smoking even though she knows it's not good for her. She starts smoking usually because it makes her popular with the "in" crowd. After a while, she gets great pleasure every time she lights up. She knows it could kill her, but the pleasure desire is so great she continues the habit. All drugs are actually a double-edged "pain-and-pleasure" sword. The pleasure they brings can be great, and the pain to quit is even greater.

Think about all the things that you and your family do every day and you will soon understand how truly driven you are by pain and pleasure.

Going to see a doctor or financial advisor brings up much anxiety for many individuals. It is because they have to face their pain-and-pleasure demons. You may learn that you are very sick or you don't have nearly enough money for retirement.

If you understand what is going on in your client's - or prospect's - mind, you will secure more business. The way to do this is through a series of well-thought-out questions. You must find what financial pains they have, as well as what pleasures they seek.

For example, you may have a client who dreams of retiring to the Bahamas. When speaking with this client you want to get them talking in detail about their future life on the island. Where will they live? What kind of house will they have? What type of lifestyle will they want?

You will want to bring the whole financial plan back to the story of the retirement home in the Bahamas.

Paint a success picture for the client and you will see their eyes light up with excitement. Their strong desire to have this incredible retirement life will help them make a sound financial decision with you.

Next you will want to discuss the situation the client has with his current financial advisor. What is the advisor doing wrong? Too pushy? Not enough contact? Poor results? Is there no real financial plan? Are the fees too high? Does the advisor never answer the phone?

The more the client discusses the pain, the angrier he may get. He may not make it easy on you. Sometimes the client will withhold information from you that you need. It is like a hidden objection. They know that as soon as they tell you, you will start selling through the objection. This is why you have to become a master of asking questions and follow-up questions.

Most people will not give you all the information you need from your first question. You have to drill deeper and deeper to find your whole answer.

Remember rule No. 1 in sales: Find out what a person wants and needs and then provide it to them.

Once you find out what is really bothering the client, you can start discussing how you are different from what they have now.

Focus on the positive experience they will have if they do business with you. Take their current pain and turn it into pleasure. That is, make sure the client knows that all the pain they are feeling with their current advisor will go away once they start doing business with you.

This is when you should lay out your value proposition. This will explain how the client's life will be better once they do business with you. If you don't have a value proposition, you have deeper issues and a lot of work to do.

Let's say the client hates the fact that they can never reach their advisor. It is your job to explain how easy it is for your clients to reach you.

Explain to them that all of your clients have your cell phone number. Tell them you carry your phone with you 24/7 so that all clients can reach you easily.

If the client tells you their advisor has not called them in over a year, make sure they understand how often you call your clients with updates - quarterly or semiannually are usually good enough. Of course, you have to make sure everything you tell them is true. You never want to lie to your client or prospect.

Here at the Rummage Group, we deal with the pain-and-pleasure principle every day. We have clients who are feeling pain at their current brokerage firm. As we go through a thorough evaluation of their situation and business, pain is often revealed. It is our job to know what firm and model will cause them less pain and create more pleasure in their lives. This is the same consultative method you must use with your clients. Knowing that most people will run away from pain and toward pleasure is very powerful. You can almost predict what an individual will do in a given situation by just understanding this principle.

Humans often make poor decisions in their personal lives as well as their financial lives. As a financial advisor, it is important to know the basic core driver of the individual sitting on the other side of the table. Now think about all the pleasure you will receive from implementing the strategies outlined here, as well as the pain you will have if you don't.

Rick Rummage is the founder and CEO of the Rummage Group. He can be reached at