Next time you conclude a visit to your physician’s or dentist’s office, the receptionist might make another appointment with you for six or 12 months down the road. The receptionist will log the appointment in the office computer, hand you an appointment card and, in all likelihood, send you a postcard a few weeks before your next appointment as a convenient reminder.
This checkup system is a powerful, but little used marketing technique that can generate business for insurance and financial advisors in two ways: First, by meeting regularly with clients you can more easily pinpoint and address gaps in insurance coverage, explore new ideas for their financial plan or introduce them to new products. Second, regular meetings show clients that you value them and are looking out for their best interests. If you’re not offering regular checkups to your clients now, here’s what you need to do to get started:
The last thing you want is a client thinking the regular checkup is just another sales call.
Create the checkup. The checkup might do nothing more than alert clients to new products or services. But checkups could also be more personal—an annual look at their entire financial plan, an opportunity to discuss changing needs, or assistance with charitable giving, for example. Package the checkup in an easy-to-remember slogan like “client appreciation call” or “annual assessment.”
Set a date. You might relate checkups to a special day or season, such as holidays, vacation periods, or annual events in your clients’ business cycles. Because clients are already thinking of their finances, the tax season could be a good time to meet with them.
Sell it with an introduction. Let customers or clients know, by letter, sign or personal introduction why you offer the regular checkup. Sell the concept to them. The last thing you want is a client thinking the checkup is just another sales call. Try selling the checkup by telling clients, “Your doctor schedules regular checkups for your physical health, I do it for your financial health.” A checkup must provide value in the eyes of a client. By offering this rationale, you’re assuring them that you will provide excellent service in the future.
Provide an incentive. If selling the checkup concept is difficult, offer an incentive. If you run a fee-based practice, you can offer the checkups as free continuing consultation. Or you could make the checkups less formal by holding them during a dinner or lunch—which you would pay for—or even after a sporting event.
Make an appointment. Once you have sold a client on the checkup, make the appointment immediately. If he is reluctant to commit to a specific date, try having him commit to a week, or at the very least, a month. Once you have this nailed down, you can set the date closer to the agreed-upon time.
Remember the reminder. Inexpensive, colorful postcards, letters or even email messages are usually sufficient reminders of the checkup. Also, a telephone call the day before the checkup will probably be necessary to make sure the client shows up.
Don’t forget the warmth. Even when the annual checkup is simple, be sure the meeting is warm and personal. A cheery reminder note, a warm welcome to clients when they visit you for the checkup and prompt personal attention to whatever needs they express will garner long-term satisfaction.
Present alternatives. If your clients are technologically sophisticated, they might prefer a web-based checkup, complete with an easy-to-use digital survey or evaluation. Or if you can’t realistically conduct checkups for all clients, offer the checkup as a value-added option—or limit it to new or preferred customers.
The regular checkup is an elegant, but simple idea that gives you and your clients the opportunity to systematically discuss their needs at least once a year. This checkup is a chance to strengthen client relationships, obtain valuable feedback about the strengths of your products and services and, most importantly, set the stage for new business from the clients who already have confidence in you.
|It’s Not Just for Customers|
|Regular checkups are great business boosters. They can bring about sales increases, and help protect and build market share, but you can use checkups with people other than customers as well. Identify key colleagues and partners, for example, and conduct informal annual reviews with them. Use the checkup with prospects to gauge their interest in what you have to offer. Use it with committees or organizations you’re involved with. Virtually anyone with whom you have an ongoing business relationship can benefit from an annual checkup.|
Richard Ensman is a contributor to AdvisorToday.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.