What exactly makes a prospect want to work with you? When I ask advisors this simple question, they provide a wide variety of answers. Many talk about their specialized investment knowledge. Quite a few mention their years of experience. Some focus on the strength of their team. Others, their firm’s reputation. An honest few admit that it’s confidence that they instill in a prospect’s mind through continual marketing.
All of the above are certainly contributing factors, but none in and of themselves gives prospects a clear and compelling reason to entrust their money to you. Instead, the ability to convert prospects into clients can be boiled down to six key factors.
1. A culture of success
Successful prospects want to deal with successful, like-minded people. Such prospects gravitate toward top talent, and are willing to pay a premium to work with the best.
- Insist that your team show a professional, upbeat and positive attitude in all client interactions.
- Mention professional achievements, recognition and awards in your marketing materials.
- Highlight client accomplishments in your client newsletter. Take an interest in client achievements (whether business or personal), and congratulate them on their successes.
- Dress and behave consistently.
2. Personalized service
Offering personalized service will make your prospect feel as if he is part of a privileged family. This in turn will lead to client loyalty and more referrals.
- Take some time in the initial meeting to discover exactly what the prospect is looking for from a service perspective. Ask questions directly if you have to.
- As your relationship develops, record your client’s preferences, needs and expectations, and circulate them to all team members.
- Conduct annual service reviews to ensure your client’s expectations are being met. Identify key service suggestions from these reviews and incorporate them throughout your practice.
- Give bonuses to team members who consistently exceed client service expectations.
3. Tangible value
Clients should be able to point to tangible actions or services you performed over the year and feel comfortable with the price they paid.
- Set clear performance expectations by using a client-service agreement or policy. Show the client that you take these expectations seriously by committing to them in writing.
- Take time to explain your unique way of doing business early in the client relationship, and how this process works to achieve your client’s goals.
- Determine ways you can go above and beyond with each client. This could be to offer a free service (simplifying a client’s investment portfolio, for example); refer prospects to the client’s business; or invite your client to a thank-you lunch.
4. High-touch relationships
Top-tier clients demand frequent, high-quality communication to remain confident in your abilities to solve their financial challenges.
- Develop a detailed client communication plan for the next 12 months, aiming for 26 or 35 points of contact with each top-tier client.
- Deliver customized holdings reports and bulletins for individual clients. Don’t accept boilerplate!
- Take the time to craft a professional, consistent look and feel to your newsletters (printed or email), website and brochures.
5. Special opportunities
Clients value an advisor who can provide special opportunities to them from time to time. Some of these opportunities should focus on new investment products or strategies; others should be lifestyle-related.
- Share your opinions on new investment and wealth management products. Tell clients what they should be interested in, and what they should avoid.
- Become an expert in a service or product area. Offer clients exclusive services or access to specialized knowledge that will enhance their financial positions.
- Tap into trends and current lifestyle issues affecting your clients. Point out books, websites and other resources on topics that clients might be interested in.
Prospects also prefer to work with professionals who have staying power. Your own ability to remain stable and steady plays a part in ensuring clients do the same.
- Hire team members who are willing to make a long-term investment in your business.
- Become an active citizen in your community. Join community associations and charitable causes.
- Be very cautious when moving firms. If you must, communicate to clients the reasons for your move, and assure them you wouldn’t do it if the move weren’t in their best interest.
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Jeff Thorsteinson is president of the YouFoundation, an organization that helps advisors build world-class practices. As a speaker and consultant, he has delivered his practice-building programs to thousands of advisors. For more information, send an email to email@example.com, call 800-223-9332, ext. 1, or visit the company’s website at www.youfoundation.com.