It’s no secret that advisers want to have a client base made up of loyal clients. However, most advisers may not take the time to fully understand why some clients are one-time customers while others are lifetime advocates.
Let’s take a brief look at what I call “the client’s evolution”—an evolution that we all have with our clients to some degree—so that you can better comprehend how you can build client relationships that last a life time.
More than 20 years ago, I began building my business by following some simple advice from my branch manager: “Find a good double tax-free municipal bond and tell everyone you can about it.”
As an eager rookie I did just that and soon I was opening up new accounts with what I thought would be “forever” clients. Unfortunately, I soon realized that many of those clients were simply one-time customers—people who had decided to buy a product. They were trying to find the best-yielding bonds and it didn’t matter who they were buying from. Some of those individuals bought additional bonds but for the most part I was one of several advisers they were working with and my value was merely a function of how well my product was doing at the time.
If you have several “customers” working with you and you would like to forge stronger relationships with them, you must find a way to show your value to them. One of the best ways to do this is to stop being a product pusher and start being a problem solver by getting to know them. Once you do, you can find their needs and fill them.
As my practice grew, I decided to take a different approach and offer prospects a complete plan to help them achieve their financial goals. This opened the door to creating solid connections from the start because I was able to identify specific needs that the prospect had and share with them how my products and services could be their solutions. I was no longer pushing any specific product but rather solving their financial concerns. As a result, these types of people became clients.
If you have customers you’d like to turn into clients and get to know even better, it’s time to get to know them on a more personal level.
After a number of years, I noticed that some of my clients had turned into close friends. Just as any friendship evolves with communication and respect, so can an adviser/agent/client relationship.
I never started out to form friendships with my clients, but friendships occurred naturally over time after I showed genuine interest in their lives. They were no longer just clients to me, but friends who I wanted to help—not only with their financial goals but in any way that I could.
At some point in my career, I realized that a select group of clients whom I had formed friendships with had an interest in my success. I had developed a level of professional and personal trust with them and they were absolutely convinced that I was not only capable of helping with their financial advisory needs, but that I truly had their best interests at heart.
That’s when I realized that I had what I now called “advocates” or clients who willingly wanted to help me succeed by introducing me to their friends and family. In addition, some of these people shared their own experiences in business and suggested marketing, staffing and even branding strategies to help me.
Why Clients Evolve
I’m sure by now you might relate to having clients of every stage that I mentioned. The secret to evolve your client base is to evolve as an adviser yourself and be involved with your prospects and clients from the very start.
If you are ready to evolve your practice, schedule a complimentary 30-minute coaching session with me by emailing Melissa Denham, director of client servicing.
Daniel C. Finley
St. Paul, Minn.