Do you ever struggle to communicate the value of financial planning to prospective clients, such that they are willing to sign your planning agreement and write a check for the deposit, enabling you to move forward?
That was the question I was asked recently by a financial planning practice. They sent me sample copies of their proposal as well as examples of their executive summaries, action plans, fee schedule and even some success story descriptions.
I am confident that this is a practice that provides an excellent planning process and product—certainly well worth the fees they charge.
So what did I recommend? Here are the steps I suggested:
Before your Introductory Conversation:
- Thank them for their interest in learning more about you and your practice.
- Send a link to your website, pointing out any description or case studies you have there about your planning process and results.
During your Introductory Conversation:
- Learn enough about them to determine whether they’re a good fit for your business model and how you can help them.
- Explain your background and approach to help them understand whether you’re a good fit for what they need.
- If you provide different “tracks” based on your clients’ situation (such as plan only, plan plus solutions or even solutions only), describe them. Tell them that the basis for determining which track is most appropriate generally becomes clear in discovery. Avoid discussing fees at this point; you want them to understand that you will recommend the track most suited to their needs.
- At the end of the introductory conversation, if you believe they are a good fit for moving forward, say something like: “Based on what you told me about your situation, and how we generally serve our clients, I think we’d be a good fit to move forward to our discovery process.”
During your Discovery Meeting:
- Your goal during discovery is to develop a list of the problems they need to have solved—the ones they’ve identified already and the ones they may not have realized they have.
- At the end of discovery, you can talk through the list of issues to be addressed, particularly focusing on the ones you uncovered.
- Then you can say something like: “Based on what we talked about today, and to help you address each of these concerns, I believe X is the most appropriate track for you.”
- Then stop and listen. Test for agreement to move forward.
- If they’re ready, provide your planning agreement and set an appointment and expectations for next steps.
- If they’re not ready to sign your agreement today, go ahead and schedule a follow-up meeting and give them what they need to prepare for planning. Assume they will be moving forward, but need a bit more time.
In the case of the financial planners I spoke with, they were accustomed to sending a planning proposal that was mostly about how they would review, analyze and evaluate, but little about the specific benefits their clients would experience.
Instead, use your analytical skills during discovery to uncover issues that your prospective clients didn’t know they had and then help them see the benefits you can provide in solving each one of them.
Susan Kornegay, CFP®
Pathfinder Strategic Solutions
Editor’s Note: This blog originally appeared on the Pathfinder Strategic Solutions “Perspectives” blog.