Do you go The Extra Mile for New Clients?

So you’re hopefully having a good run of success! You’ve secured a number of new clients and have completed a full financial planning exercise with them. However it’s not yet time to relax and assume that your ongoing fee, trail commission or retainer is going to roll in now into the future!

Research from the US has shown that across all industries, businesses lose between 20% and 60% of new customers within the first 100 days of getting them on-board. While I definitely think the figure is lower for financial advisers due to the very personal nature of the client experience, why might financial advisers lose clients at an early stage? Well it could be for any number of reasons,

  • Their heads could be turned by a competitor with a seemingly better proposition
  • They may have been somewhat underwhelmed by your whole planning and advice process
  • They may be unclear about the value that you offer
  • They may still have lingering doubts as to whether you are the partner they want to work with into the future

So what can you do to show the client that they’ve definitely made the right choice in working with you?

 

Recognise the trust challenge

This is probably the key element for you. Your relationship with the client is still at a very early stage and you have to remember that they have entrusted you with a really important part of their life – their financial future. Even having gone through a very rigorous financial planning process, hopefully with the benefit of future cashflow planning through Voyant etc., the client may still harbour doubts about you.

So recognise these doubts and proactively deal with them. The first step is to check in with the client early after the plan is fully completed and implemented. I suggest about 6-8 weeks after the whole initial engagement phase is completed. The purpose of this is to remind the client that you weren’t there for a quick product sale and that instead you’re with them on their journey through life – their financial life.

Has the client had any 2nd thoughts? Had they forgotten anything during the planning phase? The answer may well be no to both of these, but the main reason for asking is that you’re showing the client that you care.

 

Do something a little unexpected!

Think about something that you can do that will add a really nice personal touch to your relationship. This could be something as simple as a nice handwritten note to the client after the initial engagement, thanking them for choosing you and mentioning how excited you are about helping them to achieve their lifestyle and financial objectives over the next 20/30/40 years.

Or maybe you could invite them to an intimate client lunch with a carefully chosen group of key clients. Could you secure a fund manager or economist to guide a discussion over lunch? If this is unexpected, this could really wow them!

A lower cost version of this could be a client conference call with a guest speaker on it. Ring the new client and invite them personally, suggesting why it might be useful for them.

 

Why bother?

At the end of the day, it’s all about making every effort to lock down that newly gained but possibly still fragile trust. But there are other benefits too…
Remember those referrals that you were hoping the client might pass on to you? Well if they were warm about giving you referrals before, these interventions may well turn up the heat in the client’s mind and set them on the path to recommending your services.

And what about those other financial assets that the client might be managing elsewhere? This proactivity by you just might be the catalyst for the client pointing them in your direction to manage!

Structure your Sales Activities for Greater Success

Financial advisers in Ireland are busy people. Many of you have seen good growth in your businesses over the last few years, finally following a few tough years before that. It’s great to be back in growth mode!

But growing brings its own challenges, not least of which is managing your time effectively, especially when it comes to sales development. Being busy can result in you running around fighting fires, trying to meet deadlines with your existing clients. And what can then suffer is the structure you use for turning prospects into new clients. Here are a few thoughts on bringing that structure back to your sales activities.
Never compromise on business development time

This one is very easy for me to talk about as I learned this one myself unfortunately by bitter experience! I think this experience is really relevant for financial advisers too. I set up my business in mid-2011 and went through the first 18 months growing nicely. In fact 2012 finished really strongly with a good number of new projects coming on streams so I was really busy coming into 2013. So I then proceeded to put the head down for 4-5 months delivering projects. By end May, these projects were then finished, and then… nothing! I had completely ignored business development. Everyone then went into “summer mode” and really it was September / October before business really picked up again. By the time projects were completed and I was paid for them, the year was over.

This was an expensive lesson (thankfully not terminal!) but a really good one.

I now divide my week into 10 half days (8 during the summer, when I go a bit easier on myself) and no matter how busy I am, a minimum of 3 of these are given over to business development. Every single week. At the end of the day, activity drives sales. The more people you put yourself in front of, the more new clients you are going to get. Yes from time to time it means that delivery times might take a day or two longer than clients want, but what should the lesson from that be? Do you give up on business development and see your business shrink down the road or do you need more help in your business?
Track sales activity at  a client level

This sounds really simple, but there are many advisers not doing this effectively, even those with state of the art CRM systems! This really doesn’t have to be difficult and can even be managed on a spreadsheet.

I suggest that you track every new contact or lead from the time that they become a genuine prospect, right through until they become a client, or they clearly communicate that they won’t be proceeding with you. However the critical requirement is for you to be able to see quickly and visually exactly where you are in the sales cycle with each client. You need to design your sales activity planner so that you can track each of the individual sales activities that you actually have completed so far with each prospect (maybe a phone call, initial meeting and connecting on LinkedIn), as well as the sales activities that you are yet to employ to progress them through your sales cycle (maybe adding them to your client newsletter, a follow-up meeting, inviting them to a seminar).

At a glance you should then be able to see the progress you have made with each individual client and quickly identify what your next activity should be. At the same time, an effective sales activity planner will also remind you when you’ve possibly been getting a bit lax around one specific sales activity – for example it should demonstrate that you haven’t been actively growing your LinkedIn network or newsletter subscriber base, or that you haven’t organised a client event so far this year.

At the end of the day, we all know that activity drives sales. So in summary make sure that you always allocate the time for your sales activities, never compromising on these, and then track the activities relentlessly for maximum effectiveness.