Why is MY client talking to him?

How many financial advisers have bumped into an existing protection client to be told that the client recently put in place his pension / investment with another adviser or a bank? Why would your client go elsewhere? Could it be because your client doesn’t know the breadth of your product proposition or maybe would just not think about you at the time? Or possibly does the client feel a bit unloved by you?

There’s an old acronym for a customer buying cycle called AIDA. This stands for Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action. The problem I have with this is that the final step (Action) is sometimes viewed as the end of the process by advisers as they move on to the next client. It’s not, it simply all starts again. Your job after your client reaches the Action phase (a product purchase) is to begin to make your client aware of other needs they may have and to start moving them through the buying cycle again. If you don’t, someone else will and this leads us to one of today’s biggest challenges; client retention.

What’s the typical client base profile of financial advisers that I meet today? Well client bases vary widely in terms of size, but typically the adviser will say that they have close relationships with only about 20% of their clients. The rest of the clients were simply transactions of single products over the years. Of course you can’t deal with every client equally, both because it’s not profitable to do so and also you don’t have the time. However there’s no excuse today for any client not being fully aware of your proposition.

The first opportunity you have to make your client aware of the breadth of your offering is as they complete the initial transaction with you. Build time into your advice / sales process to walk your client through all areas of your proposition. They’re warm to you at this stage and will listen. Make sure you have a high quality marketing take-away for them that sets out all that you can offer them.

However brochures get lost and anyway, the real opportunity to cement your relationship with all clients only begins now. The first step is to open up as many no-cost communication channels as possible with your clients. These primarily are through ensuring you have their email addresses and also through using social media; definitely connecting with any of your clients on LinkedIn, and also Twitter offers great potential.

Your challenge then is to regularly share useful content with your clients that will portray your financial services expertise and that will also keep you firmly on your clients’ radars. Don’t bang them over the head by trying to sell all the time; instead your aim should be to interest and engage them. Do this and there’s a good chance they’ll pay the odd visit to your website to see what else you have to say. Now your clients will become more AWARE of your offering, you might even raise their INTEREST! Now they’re halfway through the buying cycle again!

A question I’m often asked is how best to measure success, as the sales cycle can be very long for future sales and therefore hard to measure in revenue terms. A method I recommend is using the “Net Promoter Score” (NPS). This is a very simple process in which you ask your clients a single question on a scale of 1 – 10, “How likely are you to recommend this company to a friend or colleague?” You then measure the results and track your score over time to see if you’re successfully engaging your clients or not. You’ll find loads of information about the NPS on the web.

We’ve all heard the old rule of thumb that it costs 5 times more to secure a new customer than it does to drive new business from an existing customer. Many of you are also very dependent on referrals from your existing customers. So look after them, engage them and you’ll increase your ratio of relationship clients.

Best of luck with engaging your existing clients! I’d love to hear from you if you would like to learn how I could help you in this area or indeed for you to share any successful approaches that you use yourself.