Different Clients Deserve Different Things

How many clients have you? 200, 500 or 2,000? I bet that as your client base has grown, so has your number of staff grown. But the chances are that even with your increased staff numbers, you are unable (and unwilling) to provide a top-drawer service to every one of these clients…

And why should you? After all, you derive hugely varying levels of income from each of those clients so surely the clients that are driving very high levels of income to your business deserve a higher level of service?

Of course this is not at all a novel concept! Every time you step on a long haul flight, it’s immediately obvious. Turn right for the cheap seats in Economy or turn left to be pampered in Business Class or 1st Class. And then when you book a hotel, you can pay less for a standard room or pay more for a suite with all of the bells and whistles that come with that.

Now let’s take this concept into the financial advice space where many Financial Brokers see their future remuneration model as centred around trail commission. If I’m fortunate enough as an investor to come to you with €1 million to invest, your trail commission might be €5,000 p.a. (assuming you charge 0.5% of assets). That’s fine if your proposition stacks up.

But what happens if I decide to place just €200,000 of my money with you? Now your trail commission falls to €1,000 p.a. Still very attractive, but obviously not as nice. However the question that’s in my head is, “What extra am I getting from you by placing the full amount with you, that’s giving you the benefit of an additional €4,000 p.a. of my money?” And if there is no difference between the services offered in each of these situations, I suggest you’ve got a challenge on your hands… Simply adding trail commission to policies without thinking through your client proposition is fraught with danger.

And not completing a robust segmentation of your clients is also very dangerous. Even without doing a segmentation exercise, I’ve no doubt that a small number of your high value clients get your best service at all times. But inevitably what happens is that there are other high value clients that slip off your radar. Either you don’t realise that they are high value or they just aren’t demanding. And then some low value clients who are constantly on the phone get a huge amount of attention. That’s hardly fair, is it?

So what do you do?

Segment your clients

For starters, do a proper segmentation exercise. Know who is valuable to your business and who is not. Don’t be put off from doing this work with the excuse of “it doesn’t capture the full picture”. Yes, there will always be exceptions within your segmentation – for example a client with very little business with you, but who constantly refers other clients to you is actually a high value client to you and should be treated as such. But don’t start with the exceptions; work out how to deal with them later on a case-by-case basis.

Develop your service packages

Develop service packages for your business that reward clients depending on their value to your business. Make your high value clients feel really special, reward them for trusting you with their money by giving them a truly rewarding client experience. Build a moat around them and pull up the drawbridge from your competitors by providing a second to none service.

Let your mid-tier clients feel valued by your business, while making them aware that there is lots more you can do for them (if they are willing to pay for it).

And of course your no/low value clients will begin to realise that it’s a business you are running and that they don’t have 24/7 access to you. If they want access to superior service (onging advice from you), they pay. The same as when they book a flight or a hotel room.

Don’t be afraid to say no

Yes, your lower value clients may want a better service possibly than you are offering and might try to demand it from you, without paying for it. Don’t be afraid to say no. You’ll only be doing this with your no/low value clients… And they are not of value to your business. Put your time into those clients that are of value to you – this is what your clients deserve and what your capacity allows.

The days of a “one size fits all” approach are over. Give your clients a service that they want and deserve.

Financial Brokers: 5 Sales Tips for the Last Quarter

The final push for 2015 is starting; we’re approaching the final quarter. Many Financial Brokers in Ireland have had a good year, however the opportunity still beckons to turn it into a great year! Here are 5 ideas that I think will help you turn good into great.

1. Keep prospecting and marketing

You’re busy, lots of clients to see for their annual reviews or with pensions in mind, which means lots of reports to be written. As a result you end up spending lots of time in the office up until mid-November. And then it’s back to your prospects… if you have any to see!

One of the biggest challenges for Financial Brokers is keeping their focus on generating new prospects when they are busy actually delivering their services. This is a challenge shared by all businesses (including my own). The only way to manage this one is to continue to attend the networking events where your target market meets and to block out time each week in your diary to follow up with prospects. And then stick to it and use this time for prospective clients only. Hopefully as a result you will continue to be busy right up to the end of the year.

The same applies to your marketing. Over the final quarter, keep going with your marketing activities, whatever they might be. For some this is using LinkedIn effectively, for others it’s about generating content for their client newsletter. Now is not the time to let these activities slip!

2. “Know” your clients before you meet them

There are so many opportunities to learn a lot about your clients and prospects before meeting them that there really is no excuse for not doing so. People are always more open (and usually impressed) when you can have a knowledgeable conversation with them from the start, when you can demonstrate that you’ve carried out some research before meeting them. It shows you care and leave no stone unturned.

Check out your client’s website before you meet them, Google their name and see what turns up, check out their LinkedIn profile and their Twitter feed. This research may very well point you towards issues and challenges that your prospects care about and indeed may just suggest some buttons to press with them!

3. Don’t dive into problem solving mode

One area of potential improvement that I come across with many Financial Brokers is in the first meeting with a prospect. There is a tendency to get into “technical” mode as soon as possible, getting into the detail of the factfind and getting into the detail of managing the client’s money. But this is a mistake if research from other markets informs us. Research carried out by JP Morgan in UK tells us that clients place little value on the completion of the factfind, but place significant value on the adviser spending time really teasing out the client’s lifestyle and financial goals and objectives. So don’t skip this important step!

4. Relentlessly refine your proposition

Your client value proposition is your magic sauce; it is that which your clients will really engage with. So you may not get it right first time! Keep it under constant review; pick up the signals that you will inevitably get from your clients when meeting them. Tweak your proposition – the areas of value that you are highlighting, the steps in your process, your list of services and your remuneration methods. And then don’t be afraid to change them. Let’s be honest – what other service out there that you receive never changes?

5. Don’t give up too soon!

You’ve been chasing a potential client throughout the year; you know they have some financial challenges that they need to address. You’ve spoken about how you can help; you’ve walked through your process and how this will help the client meet their objectives… and then nothing.

You’ve followed up by phone, email and maybe by phone again. You’re on the point of giving up. Well don’t! Research varies in this area but on average it takes six to eight contacts to turn a prospect into a client. Definitely you don’t want to annoy the prospect, you need to find methods of communication that are not too pushy. But you need to keep going – how often do you reach out six to eight times?

Remember clients are most likely to finally commit with you when they are ready to buy rather than when you want to sell, so make sure that you do everything you can to stay on their radar.

These are just a few ideas to help you in the final quarter of 2015. I hope they help!