by Tony Vidler
“Our clients did business with another adviser and didn’t call us to do it – Why?”
How often have I heard this from advisers?
It is possible that they just don’t think you are very good, or maybe they just don’t like you. Maybe that is why…but then, why would they have ever done business with you in the first place if either was the case? So they are highly unlikely to be the reasons very often and I think we can rule them out as main reasons why you miss an opportunity. Considering also that those same clients are usually happily taking your calls and haven’t unsubscribed from newsletters, and they are paying their ongoing fees…. they probably do actually like you.
There must be another reason then for them doing business elsewhere that they could have done with you, right?
So here it is:
They just don’t think of YOU in connection with what it is they were doing. When the “something” happens that should trigger them to check their plan,or their policies with you they are not thinking of YOU as the solution. They may well think they need some advice or help, and they may well call someone. Or someone calls them and gets the thought on their radar screen, and they simply do not associate that problem and possible solution with your services.
WE have to accept responsbibility for that. It is not the client’s fault that they didn’t think of us…it is our fault.
When this happens we have missed the mark in 1 of 2 areas at least (but maybe both):
Getting clients to understand what you can do for them goes a long way beyond giving them a list of professional competencies, or continually reminding them of the wonders of the 6-step planning process, or even a list of the types of policies you can arrange or investments you specialise in. For most clients such jargon-laden lists go in one eye and out the other, and it barely registers as it passes through their mind.
To get clients to understand what we can do for them we need to describe our services and expertise in the way of outcomes that we can achieve.
These are the types of outcomes that clients want from great planning…they are the things that matter to them. If we want clients to understand what we can do, and then engage us to help them achieve those outcomes, we need to put it in language which is meaningful to them. The end results matter, and register in their minds. So the first part of the equation is describing what you can fix in a way that they recognise, and which will trigger an association with you and your skills.
The second part of the equation is creating the top-of-mind-awareness: when they have an itch, they know you are the scratcher! When it comes to being top of mind, there is no substitute for a continual presence. That is, you have to be a constant part of the clients world, and you have to be constantly remiinding them that your work with them is not yet completed. There is more that you can and should be doing.
For top-of-mind-awareness it is about create an ongoing presence in the clients mind. That’s all really. You could for example send out a (brief) newsletter every 3-4 weeks to your audience (being clients and prospects) and don’t worry too much about whether they read it. The content is nowhere near as important as the contact in all honesty. Speaking personally, I regularly meet with clients and prospects who sheepishly admit that they often are not reading what I send out (but they stay subscribed!) – and they are almost apologetic. My response is usually to laugh and say “Did you see who it was from before you deleted it?” Typically the answer is “yeah…sorry….”
Who cares if they read it then? It achieved its objective the moment they recognised my name and made the association again in their mind that I look after a particular set of problems. It maintained a presence without being overly intrusive, and because the content of this newsletter is simply good suggestions and ideas it is not perceived as a sales tool. It is just staying in touch and making sure they know I’m there waiting. Job done.
What is an appropriate frequency for communicating will vary depending on your target market of course, but it is safe to say that once or twice a year isn’t enough. It is also safe to say that once a week is too much usually…but whatever the right balance is taking into account the amount of information that your clients typically receive, and how manic or busy their life is, you have to commit to delivering constantly in order to maintain a presence.
While you’re achieving “presence” you also have to create “awareness”. The art of creating that awareness, and having the clients automatically remember that you are the person who can scratch particular itches, is to educate them on the itches constantly. Highlighting the areas that you can assist with in a helpful and practical way without being overtly “salesy” needs to be regular as well. Make sure that the regular comms include references to other areas you work in; make sure all reviews (even casual phone chats) cover the areas you have not advised upon or handled yet…YET…give clients plans or written advice that includes reference to all the other areas that are yet to be dealt with fully.
Do that and you will absolutely minimise the number of clients who go looking for someone else to fix a particular problem when it occurs, because they know that is why you are there and what you can do for them.