Be nice. Be kind. Say please and thank you. Remember your manners. Always give your friend the bigger half of your cookie. Listen. Be patient. Treat other people the way you’d like to be treated. Be a good friend. Never ever forget that “as you sow, so shall you reap.” Or, in more modern lingo, “what goes around comes around.”
Having been blessed with the experience of growing up in the South where good manners are more important than life itself, and being a Girl Scout for so many years that I have the Girl Scout motto emblazoned in my brain, I have come to believe these experiences were the best “sales” training I ever had. “Sales” is about finding out what someone needs and finding a way to make it happen. The best way to do that is to listen intently to your clients, help them discover what is most important to them, and then help them create that.
In this vein, the best sales ideas I can offer are:
• Pamper and service your clients to the point of creating ecstatic clients. Do what your mother taught you. Mind your manners. Send thank-you notes to your clients. No matter how good you are, if it weren’t for them, you wouldn’t be in business. I consider one of the most important activities I do weekly is to sit down and write thank you notes.
• Make sure the point of first contact is an incredible one for your clients as well as for your potential clients. The receptionist sets the stage for your communications with your clients; she can make your life easier or harder. We recently renamed our receptionist our “Coordinator of First and Lasting Impressions.” She sees herself as a warm-up act.
• Create and nurture mutual trust. Building trust takes time, patience and making sure you are always honest and forthright. Always do what is in the best interest of your clients and develop your relationship with them so that they will give you complete and accurate information.
• Accountability. Always do what you say you’re going to do and expect the same from your client.
• Communication. Too much is better than not enough. We are in touch with our clients at least every 90 days, and if appropriate in our view or if desired by the clients, more often. We have at least annual and, again when appropriate, quarterly review meetings to monitor and recommend any changes.
• Financial plan. We find that always starting our relationship with a personal financial plan helps us establish the most important values and goals of the client so that we may determine our objective.
• Investment strategies. These are essential to a well-balanced portfolio. They allow us to take the emotional issues largely out of the dialog and focus on, “OK. Exactly what do we need to do now?” They also force us to buy when things are down and sell when things are up. Rebalancing regularly is an integral part of our investment policy. As investment professionals, we need to have an ongoing search for outstanding money managers at all times in order to enhance our clients’ portfolios while holding the managers we use to strict guidelines.
• Learn to be selective. When you are providing a high level of service, communication, and portfolio management to clients, you must limit your number of clients and to work with clients only when you can add value. Decide what kind of business you want to do and don’t take anything else.
• Integrity is an obvious and vital part of the development of our practice. The commitment to do what is right for the client, sometimes at the expense of our own profitability, is the necessary foundation for the kind of trust that brings about referrals from our best clients--those we want to clone. No matter which team member a client contacts, the message, the mission and the response should be the same. We are not a non-profit organization and are entitled to make a living for the value we provide. But while greed may be a large factor in what drives the markets, it cannot be a factor in what builds a viable financial services firm or a client relationship. We adhere to the philosophy that in doing the right thing that is in the very best interest of our clients at all times, profitability will take care of itself via client satisfaction and referrals.
• “Enduring great companies don’t exist merely to deliver returns to shareholders. Indeed, in a truly great company, profits and cash flow become like blood and water to a healthy body. They are absolutely essential for life but they are not the very point of life.” Jim Collins, Good to Great.
• Continuing education is essential to creating excellence. We are members of many professional organizations and attend conferences and courses continually to improve our knowledge so we can better serve our clients.
• Community involvement. We are committed to giving back and to being a major asset to our community.
• Make a difference. Stretch beyond your personal needs and wants, and you’ll find that the world reaches out and responds to you.
Although these ideas do not provide instant gratification, if you commit to them as core values in your practice, they are magical. You may end up with more business than you can imagine. Our mission, as a team, is to define and achieve our clients’ financial goals and distinguish ourselves by consistently exceeding client expectations and improving the quality of their lives. We strive to accomplish this mission every day.
Barbara Hudock is managing principal of Hudock Moyer Wealth Management. For more information, please call 570-326-9500.
(Investment products and services are offered through Wachovia Securities Financial Network, LLC (WSFN), member NASD/SIPC. Hudock Moyer Wealth Management is a separate entity from WSFN. Investments in securities and insurance products are not FDIC insured, are not bank guaranteed and may lose value.)