Written by Kronos Technologies on January 30, 2019
More than ever, succeeding as an advisor means impressing your clients and potential clients by delivering awesome experiences for them. Setting yourself apart from your competition and giving your clients reasons to want to work with you rather than trying to do it themselves requires that you first take care of all the table stakes stuff that they expect to get anywhere—like having processes and technology and staff in place to offer the service they want, when they need it—but also, making sure that the precious time you spend face-to-face is an uncommon and invaluable experience for them.
Read on to for 6 tactics you can use to impress prospects and clients in every meeting.
Tactic 1: Share your roadmap from the beginning
For many prospects and clients the decision to begin working with an advisor is a step into the unknown. They are unsure what to expect from their new relationship. In many cases a new client may not be clear on what the process will look and feel like, and they may be unsure about what they should rely on an advisor to provide, as well as what they themselves might be responsible for.
Setting clear expectations and confirming them with your client prior to starting to work together is a healthy way to reduce anxiety, build their confidence that you are experienced and will be able to demonstrate that they will achieve their goals with your help.
To this end, the best advisors map out their typical on-boarding and service workflows, and then create professional documents (both digital and print) to share with prospects and clients that illustrate the steps in the process and the key expectations and outcomes at each stage.
Tactic 2: Use FNA software
The days of ham-and-egging it with paper-based questionnaires and an ad hoc interview approach to client review meetings are over. Instead, today’s advisors make use of Financial Needs Analysis (FNA) software to effectively and consistently prepare for, conduct and follow-up on their review meetings. Good FNA software integrates with the advisor’s CRM—which means that FNA fields are automatically populated with client data, activity can be automated and tracked, and opportunities can be flagged for follow-up. They save time, reduce frustration and ensure more client needs are met.
Tactic 3: Involve the client
The right FNA app also enables advisors to send the FNA to a client prior to the meeting so that the client can review their information for accuracy, and update anything that has changed. This step saves time and effort in the meeting—allowing client and advisor to focus on the interaction and getting the most out of their time together. It also draws the client into the process at an early stage. It primes the pump by getting the client thinking about their goals and targets and worries and fears. It floats questions that they will want answered. It makes them think about their future and their family, and how you might be able to help. Clients who are pre-prepared like this are far more engaged, more likely to listen to your suggestions, and ultimately, more likely to follow your advice.
Tactic 4: Harness the power of stories
The bedrock skill for creating great client experiences and building excellent relationships is developing empathy. At the fundamental level, this means excelling at the back and forth between you and your client—becoming the best at eliciting the information you need from them, taking it in, and applying it to meet their needs. There are many great resources available for advisors who want to improve their questioning and listening skills (Check out, Brainfishing: A Practice Guide to Questioning Skills, by Gary T. Furlong and Jim Harrison for awesome advice from two long-time masters of the art.)
The next level tactic for making superb customer connections, however, is to hone your craft as a master storyteller. Neuroscience shows that when you tell a story to someone else, the parts of your brain that light up as you speak, also light up in their brain as they listen. You are forging an actual connection between you.
So focus on finding the stories from your previous experience in working with your clients that convey emotion—that show how your work helps people like your client, that enables them to experience, through someone else’s narrative, the risks and rewards that are possible. And, don’t forget, all stories—since the dawn of time—have a beginning (the challenge the client faces), a middle (the tactics for solving the problem) and an end (the outcome).
Tactic 5: Use professional presentation software
Once you have worked to build trust and fully understand your client’s needs and goals, the next step is to provide your advice. The best way to do this is to, once again, lean on your FNA software. Good, advisor-specific FNA tools contain the automatic planning and calculation engines you need to put together the right proposal for your client based on all the data you have gathered. And, those same tools will also quickly and easily generate professional-looking presentations that will wow your clients. These presentations can be customized to include your own branding and tailored to your client—more detail for those who appreciate, brevity for those who want the bottom-line.
Tactic 6: Close with a client focused question
Before you end the meeting make sure to ask questions that may reveal any hidden needs, fears or questions your client may be experiencing. This is a good way to close the meeting while demonstrating that you have their interests at heart. It may also reveal opportunities that hadn’t floated to the surface during your conversation, or avenues for future exploration. Many advisors will ask questions like, “what else is worrying you?” or “What else can I do for you?” Whatever the answer, don’t drop the ball on follow-up. Nothing sinks a client experience you worked so hard to craft quite as fast as not doing the things you promised during the meeting. Use your CRM to log all activities that need to be carried out after the meeting to ensure your client’s full satisfaction—and maybe a few others they weren’t expecting that might put the experience over the top.
The face-to-face time you spend with your clients is your best chance to create the awesome client experiences that will build their trust in you, and make them want to work with you over the long-term. To make the most of your time together share your roadmap with them, get them involved early in the process, tell stories, use professional tools and leave the meeting with the focus on them. Use these six tactics to make your review meetings memorable and you’ll win your clients confidence and their long-term loyalty.