Many financial planners and stockbrokers get caught up in trying to beat the indexes and put all their energy into product performance. However, this energy may be misguided since, out of the best money managers, only 7% actually succeed in meeting the indexes (Source: Ticker, May 1998). Also, keep in mind that these money managers do not have to divide their attention by meeting with clients or worrying about prospecting. Still they under-perform the market. To retain clients, focusing on relationships may be more productive than focusing on returns.
Smart clients realize that you can’t control or influence the market. Instead, demonstrate your competence by focusing on relationships. Concentrate on helping your clients attain their financial goals and becoming an advisor they can trust. When you solve a problem or simply treat your client as if they are the most important one you have, the client walks away feeling great. That feeling, coupled with a close business relationship, will make your clients more inclined to increase their business with you and tell others about your services. Cultivating a superior client relationship creates higher client satisfaction which, in turn, helps your business grow.
Most people usually buy products or services based on one of two things: good feelings or as solutions to a problem. Today, anyone can access the Internet and gather information to make financial decisions on their own. By becoming a values-based financial professional, you have the opportunity to make your clients feel special. Nearly all human needs are emotional or social, rather than functional, so focus on getting to know your clients on a personal level. Set a goal of making each meeting with them a pleasurable experience.
In order to become a values-based professional, you need to make your clients associate you with the final result or payoff of your services. Advertisers use this idea frequently by selling images of social acceptance, romance, or success rather than simply selling the product. For example, automobiles are not only a form of transportation, they are a symbol of status and insight to who you are. Larger cars are marketed as sophisticated, posh vehicles to take to cultural events, whereas driving a sport utility vehicle allows one to adventurously scale mountains or trek through jungles at a moment’s notice. Perfume doesn’t just make you smell good, the right fragrance can trigger a wild romance or change your life dramatically. Find out what appeals most to your clients, such as security, personal comfort, enhanced earnings, or opportunity for more leisure time, and promote those images.
To make the shift from being a performance-oriented professional to one focusing on relationships, you need to focus on these six points:
Know your business. Your financial expertise and sound advice are what you base your business on. The more knowledge you acquire, the more you can help your clients. However, remember that people want to feel good and this does not come from products and product performance alone.
Know your clients. A thorough understanding of your clients is the basis for developing a stronger relationship and enhancing your service to them. Get close to your clients by getting to know them and their families. Make your clients your friends.
Be curious. Don’t ignore anything. Question, probe, and dig deep to understand your clients and their needs and goals. The insights you discover will help provide the basis for your relationship. If you omit information, you eliminate opportunity.
Listen. People don’t always articulate clearly, so listen carefully to not only hear what they are saying, but what they mean.
Be a concierge. Treat your clients like guests at a fancy hotel. Smile, be cheerful and friendly. Greet your clients by name and have their favorite amenities on hand. Return calls promptly. Create the impression that you are always thinking about your clients. Treat each client like they are your top priority.
Be enthusiastic. You set the tone for the energy that goes into the work for your client. Your enthusiasm will make a difference and it is also contagious. Have fun with your clients.
In this competitive world of investment management, it has become harder to distinguish yourself solely through your products or their performance. However, by concentrating on helping your clients achieve their financial goals and focusing on the emotional payoff of your client services, you’ll have a unique resource that is quite valuable and will set you apart from the competition.