Imagine getting rid of the headache of strained client relationships or a lack of clients. And instead attracting and retaining more ideal clients who give you repeat business and happily refer you. Sounds great, right? But the real question is:
What do you have to do to make this happen?
^ That question plagues a lot of financial professionals.
And we've got an answer in today's blog post...
It might seem far-fetched that you could have all the ideal clients you want -- especially if you’re dealing with a dip in sales or feel like you’ve been working too many hours, burning yourself out trying to find anyone to meet with. If that’s you, NOW is the time to get clear on the steps you may want to take to help you get over this hump and work with more and better clients going forward.
We’ve had the privilege of working alongside producers who follow the steps we’ll share with you today. These producers are the ones who continue to thrive-- Even in the middle of a pandemic, they keep business flowing in.
Which doesn't mean they're more talented than you...
It just means they've figured this out >>
Whether we’re talking actual clients or prospects, in 2020, working with the people you want to comes down to creating a better “client experience.”
In fact, Walker recently released a study which stated that by 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator (Source).
So, without further ado-- here's how to create a better client experience.
Step 1: Inspire Confidence Through Two Actions
You would probably agree that most of the time, especially in this industry, someone has to know, like and trust you before they’ll ever do business with you. So, if you already have them as a client, the last thing you want to do is destroy the faith they’ve placed in you.
There are a few things that can make a client lose confidence in you. And it probably goes without saying, but avoid these at all costs:
• Being misleading
• Only looking out for your best interests rather than theirs
• Saying you’ll do something and then not following through
Conducting your business with integrity and always acting in your clients’ best interest allows your business to function like a mirror… it reflects what you put out, back into your business. So, if someone is just trying to make a quick buck, that will be reflected in their business by way of bad clients or no clients.
At this point you might be thinking, of course I always act in my client’s best interest and of course I act with integrity. But unfortunately, not everyone does. They get caught up in making the next dollar and they lose focus on what’s important and have a much tougher time growing their business.
There are a couple of key actions that can help strengthen the relationship with your clients and improve their experience in working with you. And those are to listen and engage with them MORE THAN you talk and pitch product.
“Seek first to understand and then to be understood.” – Stephen Covey
You’d be surprised how many people just want to be heard. They may rarely have their thoughts, feelings or goals acknowledged and to have you stop and listen — Wow! That can go a long way in establishing a relationship they appreciate.
Listening is a huge component of effective communication and better relationships with your clients. Not to mention it helps you better serve them when you find out what they actually need.
Want to get engaged?
Yes, I think you do. Engaging with your clients is key to a lasting partnership. Once you’ve gotten a new client and you’ve maybe written one piece of business, that’s not the end of the relationship. If it is, that’s a transactional mindset, which we wouldn’t encourage. If you’re doing business with someone, in almost every case, you want to think about it from a long-term perspective. This means you will need to continue to engage with them just as you do your prospects.
When you engage and listen and invite your clients to provide feedback and advice, you can improve client retention. This is an area that often gets overlooked in our “slight” obsession with getting more leads. You’re probably familiar with the term attrition and it can apply to your book of business… if you’re sacrificing your existing client base just to bring in someone new (which is actually more expensive to do), it’s nearly impossible to get ahead.
It can be more cost-effective to focus first on retaining existing clients and increasing their lifetime value.
When you take the time to find out what makes your top-notch clients tick and uncover what delights them about your services (or where the gap in service is), you can improve what you’re doing and attract even more clients just like them.
Step 2: Make Your Client (or Prospect) the Hero
In Donald Miller’s book, Building a StoryBrand, he explains that almost everyone was once a “hero” who achieved something, became a success, and then graduated to a “guide” who helps others along their journey to achieving their goals.
At this stage in your business, you’re the guide helping your clients. So, the focus isn’t on YOU as much as it’s on your client.
How can you help them feel like the hero of their own story? Despite what might be happening around them.
What support can you provide that allows them to take the necessary steps and overcome any challenges or limiting beliefs or bad habits to get to their goal? Put a cape on your client.
Facilitating without taking all the credit can endear a client to you because you helped them have confidence in themselves and their decisions. It’s the same thing we do for children, even if we help them, we say “great job, look what you did!”
Many times, we’re told to “Be a hero to our clients” and come in and save them from themselves, but this idea runs counter to that. We believe playing the guide makes a lot more sense…
Step 3: Give and You Shall Receive
One of the most enlightening books I’ve read is the Go Giver. Have you read it? I would strongly encourage you to check it out. If you don’t already approach your life and business from a service mindset, this can be life-changing and even radical concept.
Giving back to the community through a few volunteer activities is pretty normal, or donating a check every year and getting a write-off is what some people do, but what if we replaced always be closing with always be giving? Does any resistance come up for you?
Change the station
When we’re told to give, give, give of ourselves, we can be afraid that we’ll be taken advantage of or worry that we’ll never get what WE deserve. But we need to change the station from WIIFM (what’s-in-it-for-me) to what more can I give?
As Joe, the character in the book discovers, you don’t forfeit payment or respect by being a giver, you look at each moment to find what you can give and inevitably, you will be rewarded.
Even when you aren’t “getting” anything from a client like more assets under management or a new sale, it’s important to continue to give to them. Give of your time, give of your expertise, give of your attention…
Whether or not they ever sign another application with you, you’ll create “personal walking ambassadors.” They don’t owe you a referral, but they will be happier to provide one when they see you’re constantly looking out for their best interests — whether you’re making a sale or not.
Step 4: Ask Better Questions (and get better answers) to Uncover Their Challenges
You can assist your clients and prospects on getting to the root issues and help them see real transformation by asking WHY they haven’t achieved what they want to financially.
Now, you may have been taught asking a lot of questions is bad – that it means you don’t know what you’re doing…
But that’s simply not true.
“The way you become world-class is by asking good questions.” - Tim Ferriss
Those who lead and affect change know how to ask good questions. And the better the quality of the questions you ask, the better-quality answers you get in return.
For example, asking: Why haven’t you gotten to where you want to be financially? is the wrong question to ask.
Instead, you could say: What could you do to get to where you want to be financially? This encourages expansive thinking. It opens them up to possibilities and ideas. And it focuses on the positive and asks them to take control of making change happen.
This is critical to cultivating a better client experience — remember, “people will do anything for those who encourage their dreams.”
After asking a question, you want to follow up. Keep the conversation going with questions like, What makes you say that? or Why do you think that? or How would that make you feel?
Know when to ASK don't TELL-- that will go a long way towards a better client experience.
Step 5: Present Yourself as a Guide with Expertise, Not the Expert
This step is a culmination of the previous four steps, but now let’s talk about why it’s so important to be a guide rather than an expert.
Consider what it takes to become a leader or move up the professional ladder – you begin by learning HOW to do your job and then you up-level your skills to become a master at what you do (this could mean getting all those letters behind your name and learning the ins and outs of how all the products work). But it’s the person who can help others achieve results who becomes a true leader or moves up to the higher-level positions.
And if you’re going to lead your clients to and through retirement, you too will move away from just having expertise in your craft to cultivating excellence in others (your clients).
It’s a mindset
Acting as a guide is a mindset thing. When you fulfill the role of a guide, you think about the bigger picture and connect the dots for your clients. You have the ability to come up with creative solutions on the fly rather than simply suggesting your go-to product because you know it so well (to someone with a hammer, everything looks like a nail). But sometimes you need a wrench, or screwdriver, or some glue.
A guide has a better opportunity to demonstrate their value and command premium fees. Because remember, you’re not selling your time or your knowledge — you’re selling the VALUE of the results you deliver. And making the client experience better in the process.
You’re there to solve problems, not just go through the motions. Clients want solutions… this is what anyone wants when they do business.
Where do we go from here?
Just like you may ask your clients to invest (if you are qualified and have the proper licensure to do so), you have to be willing to invest time and energy (and sometimes money) into applying these steps in your financial practice. Mainly because information alone won’t help you scale your business. It’s in the application and transformation that real change happens.
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