OK, let’s start by stating that there’s no science behind the answer to this question, there’s no right or wrong answer. What I’m going to set out is my view of what an effective Client Value Proposition is and what it should contain. So let’s start at the beginning.
What is a Client Value Proposition (CVP)?
The best answer I’ve seen to this question is a definition that I found online which states that “A client value proposition is a clear, concise and compelling articulation of how the factors that are important to the client are satisfied by the company.” The key words in this are “important to the client” because this is where the CVP begins and ends. If you don’t place the client at the very core of your thinking, unfortunately you’re going to miss the mark. Yes, what you do, and in particular what you do well are important. But unless these activities are going to positively impact the client experience, they don’t belong in your CVP.
I’m also a strong believer that a CVP is not a glossy document. Instead I see it strictly as an internal document and not for client eyes at all. If developed fully and successfully however, it is the single document that will guide everything that you do with your clients – how you speak to them, how you write to them, the content you write for your client presentation, website, brochure and newsletters and the services that you provide to clients. It can certainly be classed as one of the most, if not the most important documents that you develop for your business.
This document then becomes the guidebook for you, your staff and your future staff. If a team member cannot or is not willing to deliver this proposition to clients, you need to seriously consider their place on your team…
What should your Client Value Proposition contain?
It certainly is not a wishy-washy statement of how good a financial planner you are. Remember it’s all about the value as experienced by the client. I think an effective CVP contains the following – if you can articulate all of these points, you will have a very powerful document to guide you.
Why you’re a financial adviser / planner: This is really important as it articulates your values and whether your set of values are important to a client or not. If a client recognises that they share the same values as you, this is a really compelling magnet to pull them in your direction.
Who your target markets are: These are important, as your clients need to know whether you have the required expertise and experience to meet their specific needs,
What makes you different: This is where you identify the points that you believe make you different to other financial advisers & planners, and how these points of difference translate into an enhanced experience for your clients.
The outcomes and benefits that a client will experience: Clients want to understand what the end results will look like when dealing with your business. It’s important to think about both the emotional benefits that a client will experience from having you as their financial planner, along with the rational / tangible outcomes they will experience from being a client of yours.
What you don’t do: Some clients may come to you with pre-conceived and unrealistic or indeed incorrect expectations of what you do. As far as you can, it’s very useful to set out for clients what you don’t do in order to manage those expectations.
How you work with clients: This sets out how you actually deliver your advice to clients, what the actual steps that you go through with clients, the reason for each step and how it will positively impact your clients. This is a really important piece as this is the nub of how you work with clients and allows you to demonstrate what they can expect and how it will help them to achieve their desired outcomes. Get this piece right and it offers you a further opportunity to really stand apart from your competitors.
The ongoing services that clients can expect: The previous point will most likely focus on the initial engagements with people as they become a client of your business. This section then sets out what a client can expect from you year after year, the importance of your ongoing service proposition and how it will help them on their financial journey.
Your review meeting process: As this is the most important ongoing interaction you’ll have with your clients, you need to spend time thinking through how you add value to clients at these important junctures each year. Mapping out these important meetings is a crucial step.
What it all costs: You can argue whether this belongs in your CVP or not, but from experience this piece becomes far more straightforward after all of the above is done. If the CVP is strong enough, clients will see the value and will then want and expect clarity of what it’s going to cost them. You can also now communicate your pricing transparently and with confidence.
Developing your CVP is not easy. It requires time out of the business, deep internal reflection, time and concentration. However if done well, it will be the single most valuable piece of work you do in developing long-term relationships with your clients.