by Tony Vidler
One of the consequences of regulatory reform in financial services has been the demise of selling.
While there is an absolute requirement to place the clients interests above all else if one is to be a professional, it does not follow logically that one should not be “selling”.
Selling is about influencing behaviour…persuading people to change direction or take actions they would otherwise not have taken…..it is entirely consistent with being a professional working in the clients interests.
Selling is not a dirty word, and nor is it about moving products to people who don’t want or need them.
If you are a professional adviser looking to change clients lives for the better, then you need to get to grips with the fact that you need to learn how to sell if you are going to do your work well and positively influence as many lives as possible.
My reason for focussing upon the ‘selling” word is that it appears to me that many professionals have become so captivated with their compliance obligations, and their fear of being seen to be unprofessional if they “sell”, that they are neglecting one of the fundamental business growth opportunities:
Marketing to their own clients.
Most advisers have been creating excellent and frequent client communications strategies on the back of raised regulatory standards. The delivery of technical information, and personal policy or portfolio data, and best practice advice reviews are now largely well established processes and systems in professional practices.
What has been lost for many practices though in the evolution of these client communications is the marketing element, which is the initial element in the sales process.
Creating marketing campaigns to existing clients is an essential ingredient for a successful practice, and it is an essential ingredient for maintaining interest over the long term from your clients. While they are certainly mostly interested in being aware of how their own money or policies are performing, nearly all are interested in new ideas or concepts that they might benefit from. This is where client campaigns enter the fray…
Campaigning to existing clients should not be aggressive or irrelevant, and nor should it be a monotonously frequent affair. However, a couple of campaigns each year that draw clients attention to appropriate new products, services or information that might make a positive difference to their lives is totally appropriate. I would argue that you have an obligation to do so.
It is in both the advisers and clients best interests to be able to point to a trail of professional delivery of new information and services to clients in these days of increasing liability, and it is also a well established principle that maintaining the required “top of mind” awareness with clients requires contact every 60-90 days at the most. Marketing campaigns also often achieve what the annual client review process doesn’t: it provides a reason, or a point of interest, for clients to actually engage with the adviser again.
For todays professional adviser building a profitable practice from serving clients well there is a need to get selling. That is how you change clients lives and circumstances – which is the essential function of the adviser.
To get selling again, get campaigning to existing clients. Done professionally, and suitably, it is in the clients interests – and is “of interest” to them – and it is good for business.