by Tony Vidler
So what are you really selling? People in the industry tend to answer by saying “product”….people think they are selling insurance product, or wealth creation products, or taxation products….
Then they wonder why clients do not value them as an adviser. It’s obvious isn’t it? The clients will never value the adviser in professional services if the adviser thinks they are selling products, because the adviser made the product the “valuable thing”, not themselves. Product is merely a tool that helps facilitate a desired outcome. It is a tactic which is used to achieve a strategic objective.
In a service business we are pretty much really selling one (or more) of these three things:
Clients will engage a service business because they are seeking a particular experience…driven by an emotion, and creating a moment in their life that will become a memory that matters. Holidays….tracing family history…..sailing a yacht….these are examples of experiences that matter to clients because they are moments that matter. We too can deliver experiences. Perhaps not as exciting as yacht sailing in sun-drenched islands, but we can provide valuable and valued experiences.
Closely associated with creating the experiences are the feelings that they generate, however feelings are not just about experiences. Peace of mind and calmness….control…..love….respect of their family….they are examples of the real outcomes that clients seek when engaging professional advisers. Feelings are usually key drivers of engagement with advice.
Often though in service businesses the primary driver for client engagement is convenience, or delivery. There is not a particularly high level of feeling attached to excellent dry cleaning services, or car washing, or completing tax returns. The primary driver for the client is that the service either removes complexity from their life, reduces stressors, or it provides them with more time to do other things instead. It is convenient to give it to someone else to do. That adds quality to their own lives.
It’s actually never really about the product in financial services for the majority of consumers. The outcome that the client is seeking – even if they don’t express it in this manner – will be essentially about achieving an experience that they will cherish; creating or maintaining a particular feeling that matters; and preferably doing it in such a way that the delivery of the service is convenient.
The Holy Grail for the professional services business is to tap into all three for their clients.
A service level from the business which is centered on creating convenience for clients at any level possible is a starting point. Understanding the clients values and aspirations intimately in order to help create the feelings that matter, and then actively trying to create that outcome for them, is highly valued. Coupling that with helping the client achieve the significant experiences they crave creates advocates for life.
To build a fabulous service business you need to put the products in their rightful place. They are a means to an end and certainly need to be fit for purpose. But that is about it really. What you are really selling is the ability to help clients create the life experiences and feelings which they value.