It’s happening again! Today, we launched Part 2 in our End-to-End Excellence Series – Continuous Client Service – Lock in Loyalty and Build Your Business to those of you who registered to receive it. (Hopefully you all registered for Part 1 last month – Sales & Onboarding – Your Last Chance to Make a Good First Impression). It’s not too late if you didn’t.
Client service is becoming a differentiating value proposition. Done right, it can help you build trust with your clients, strengthen relationships and create a long and mutually beneficial partnership. In the video and our advisor article, we describe the Five Essentials to Continuous Client Service:
1. Assume nothing and segment your book
2. Conduct impactful client reviews
3. Engage in frequent and tailored client touches
4. Track progress against client goals
5. Explore alternative communication channels
Now I know your days are packed with client meetings, prospecting and firm management. You may find it challenging to devote so much time to building a continuous client service experience. But I argue that these activities demonstrate your competence, build trust with your clients and enable confident decision-making.
Almost everything you do touches on the service experience. By implementing the five essential elements to continuous client service, you can go a long way toward meeting – what we believe are – reasonable client expectations.
Don’t miss out – you can still register online and receive the video and its accompanying article and client review checklist.
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Now let’s get started with the Q&A!
Are you happy with your current client service and review process? Would you change anything based on what you saw and read today?
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For Financial Intermediary Use Only. Not for Public Distribution.
This is Part 1 in our End-to-End Excellence Series. Sales, onboarding and continuous client service are three closely tied stepping stones in what we call “The Client Service Continuum” (we’ll go over client service in Part 2).
I hope you enjoyed watching the video – I had fun making it. (Didn’t catch it? You can still register online to get it.) More importantly though, I hope you learned why creating a strong sales and onboarding process is more important today than ever before. There are so many benefits to having one:
- Improve client retention
- Create the perception you’re easy to do business with (and hopefully, perception is reality)
- Differentiate yourself from the competition
- Reduce the chance for operational errors
- Free you to focus on revenue generation
Don’t start over; retool
Now I’m not telling you to go out and change your entire process. If you have been successful in the past, you may just want to review our materials to see if there is anything you missed.
But for those of you who want more of a focus on building long-term, loyal clients and advocates, I encourage you to review the 9 steps outlined in the video companion article and follow our implementation timeline.
Yes, it will take resources and some more planning on your part, but in the end you’re saying to your new clients, “We’re excited about the relationship and committed to your success.”
Don’t miss out – you can still register online and receive the video and its accompanying article and implementation timeline.
Now let’s get started with the Q&A!
Are you happy with your current sales & onboarding process? Would you change anything based on what you saw and read today?
Today was our annual ugly sweater contest, and I was robbed. (Third place, are you kidding me??) I mean, take a look at the pictures below!
From our team to yours, Merry Christmas, and since it doesn’t look like the world is going to end, happy New Year!
Each year at this time, we are deluged with lists. SI’s Sportsman of the Year just came out. So did Barbara Walters’ most fascinating people of 2012 (I guess I’m not “with it” — Honey Who Who?). Time Magazine has even put out its “Top 10 of Everything” list, which includes 55 Top 10 lists. I’m looking forward to delving into the top 10 fleeting celebrities and top 10 worst tweets.
Of course, the most important list (and I wish it only had 10 items) has been compiled since August: my kids’ Christmas list.
One of the lists that I actually do look forward to most is when an organization (PNC this year) calculates the cost in today’s dollars of the items in the 12 days of Christmas. $101,119 to be exact — for the partridges, pear trees, turtle doves and all 364 items repeated in that infamous song. I can only be happy that my boys didn’t have five golden rings on their list.
What’s on your list?
Well – on a more meaningful note for your business, SEI would like to gather and publish lists of:
• How your year-end sentiment and views on 2013 compare with your peers
• Your clients’ Santa Claus “Wish List”
• Your top resolutions for 2013
The online poll is short and quick. It will only take about 5-7 minutes to complete (I promise). We will tally the results up and share them with you in an upcoming blog post.
If you come across a year-end list that strikes your fancy (or you think would be enjoyable to others), please add it to the comments section or send it to me and I’ll share it with the group.
Take our poll now.
Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
Full disclosure: Back in college, I took four computer programming courses and even worked as a summer intern programming (in BASIC!) for a large financial services company. My friends ask me to help them set up their sound and video systems and my neighbors quiz me about social media and new devices. I am first in line for most new technology gadgets and toys. I guess you could say I let my geek flag fly. And, even as an admitted geek, I’m a little uneasy about what I see in our business today, technologically speaking.
What business are you in?
Over last few years, I have spent my fair share of time at FPA and broker-dealer conferences. The look of these conferences has changed dramatically. Sure, there are still booths filled with performance materials, wholesalers who can’t wait to tell you about their funds performing well (this week), and cheap trinkets. But the new golden children of the conferences are the technology vendors.
To me, this is troubling. Every time I pass these booths I ask myself, “When did the business change from helping people achieve their goals to running and managing technology?” Is this for the better or is it getting in the way of doing what we are supposed to do?
Has it gotten away from you, too?
Case in point: A few weeks ago, I was at a large RIA firm in the northeastern U.S. The firm was growing and adding new clients with higher asset minimums. As we discussed the challenges of running a successful firm, the lead advisor said he was frustrated because he was spending more and more time on technology issues and less in front of people. He said that his assets were increasing, but his margins were getting smaller. Not a good sign.
When pushed a bit further, we discovered that in the last twelve months, the firm purchased a new CRM, as well as began to implement a new performance reporting technology. He confessed that his technology budget was ”well into six figures,” even before he added in the cost of the staff hours and training. He was further challenged because these pieces of technology rarely “talked” to each other and if one of them had a new release or modification, it would throw the whole office into an uproar.
Change technology or change behavior?
Ask yourself the following questions the next time you want to purchase software for your firm:
- Is there a specific issue you are trying to solve for? Is it a fix for a problem or is it a “nice to have” item? Unless there is a demanding business reason that you install something new, why complicate your life more?
- Have you run a cost-benefit analysis on the purchase? Will the software pay for itself? Should that even be the goal? How much will training cost? If the purpose of the technology is to create efficiencies or systemize your practice, can you put dollar value on how much additional time will be freed up? Will it enhance the client experience? How do you know?
- Is the problem your technology or is it your processes? Even the best programs cannot read your mind – and technology can’t fix a crappy process. Are you willing to change office procedures, modify workflows and adapt to the needs of the new program? More importantly, does your staff feel the same needs as you do? After all, they are probably the ones who will be most affected.
I appreciate great technology, but I know it is just a tool —one that can easily take your eye off the ball if you let it. Too many of us spend more time in front of the computer than we do in front of clients.
In today’s volatile times, where should you be focused?
“Next year, I’m going to <insert resolution here>.” Who hasn’t done that? We all look ahead to a new year with the best of intentions, but it’s not often we take that next step and actually *plan* how we’ll make it happen.
If one of your resolutions is to focus on growing your practice, how about some help?
We’re hosting a webinar on Monday, November 28 at 4 p.m. ET called “Breaking Through in 2012.” In it, we’ll give you tools to:
- Develop goals with a clear purpose
- Identify proven, high-value marketing activities
- Involve your team by getting their skin in the game
We’ll also give you something that people always ask for when we talk about planning – an easy-to-use plan template. Because nobody wants to start with a blank page.
The webinar will only last an hour and the registration is free. So make yourself a turkey sandwich (you know you’ll still be eating leftovers then) and join us — it will be time well spent and could help make 2012 a great year.
Three million people without power due to the freak snowstorm on the East Coast this weekend, and as usual, the Anderson family is part of that not-so-exclusive club. Although we live in suburban Philadelphia and not some remote location in the mountains or something, I know that every time the weather gets really bad, we’ll get hit with a few days of no power. However, with the small backup generator that we had installed a few years ago, we now have heat and running water — so we spent Sunday getting organized and enjoying family time. A day without power is a day without the usual distractions.
It is a great day for focus time and a great day for planning.
Kind of like a snow day, think about the last time you had a client meeting cancel or some other major unplanned disruption in your day. Did you use the time in your business or on your business? In my experience, we never use these unplanned but golden times to their fullest extent. We get caught up with some little mundane task or even worse, we blow the free time by surfing the web or talking to co-workers and staff. If you have time blocked your calendar as “quality” time with clients or a strategic partner, why not use that time to its fullest?
Today is the day to look at 2012.
Although the snow is a bit early this year, the reminder is still valid. 2011 is almost over and we should begin focusing on our plans for 2012. I know I have said it before, but I truly believe that this is the best opportunity any of us will ever have to grow our practices. Investors are looking for advice and counsel; they are worried about their retirement plans or if they even can retire. Now is the time to put a plan in place to meet those investors. Ideally, you won’t wait until a client cancels, but even if you do, start planning as soon as possible. Ask yourself:
- Did I achieve my 2011 goals?
- What worked this year, what didn’t, and why?
- What are reasonable goals for 2012?
- What tactics are am I going to execute in 2012 that will help me meet my objectives?
- How am I going to involve my staff? (The plan can’t just rest in your mind only.)
- How am I going to monitor the plan? (Regular update meetings are necessary so you can course correct.)
- How am I going to incorporate strategic partners?
- How am I going to judge success?
This is just the tip of a solid plan, but it’s a great start. I would suggest you block out some time over the next 60 days (yep, only 60 days left in 2011) to focus on how you are going to achieve your growth goals.
Also, mark your calendar for our next webinar, “Break Through in 2012,” on November 28th. It’s all about putting a plan in place to help you achieve your growth goals next year. Registration information will be posted soon.
But more importantly, I hope that you learned why hosting events is important to an advisor’s bottom line. Events come in many sizes and shapes, and they’re a great tool for client retention and business development. With a little knowledge and confidence, you can make an impact by conducting small and large events for your clients and prospects.
Now I am not telling you that you need to run out and hire a film crew, or start your own blog and do what we just did (although I have to say this was a lot of fun). Just remember, successful events are achieved by following these three steps:
- Do your homework: Learning about preferences will help you develop something unique and attractive for your audience. Try to think out of the box.
- Pay attention to detail: Resource your event by allocating an appropriate budget and assign someone on your staff to manage the nitty-gritty. Registrants for Events with Payback can refer to SEI’s Event Planning Calendar included in your toolkit. (Didn’t register? Contact me if you want it.)
- Follow up after the fact: Your event is only as good as the lasting impression you made on your attendees. Thank everyone for coming and recount part of your conversation, if possible. Bottom line – make it personal.
Yes, it takes resources, planning and practice. But when you put it all together – and follow a few simple tips — it’s as easy as making a three-foot putt (did you see that great shot I made on the video?). Perhaps in the sequel, we’ll focus more on my golf game.
Now on to the Q & A. Let’s get started.
What role do events play in your overall marketing strategy? Would you change anything based upon what you saw and read today?
I love attending advisor conferences, but I don’t like “booth time,” trinket collectors, salesmen selling their “top fund,” small talk with wholesalers who are actually looking for a new job, lots of down time, and rubber banquet food served at the hotels. I hate flying to some exotic location knowing that I will never leave the hotel conference center, and hate being away from my family. Kind of sounds like my college experience — loved being in college, hated attending the classes!
But what I do love is the great one-on-ones with advisors, the side meetings and the thoughtful questions. The commitment of most advisors to better their practices inspires me, and I know they come away with new ideas and goals to better serve their clients.
Last week, I spoke at a broker-dealer conference in LA. The title of the talk was “Lock in Loyalty, Build Your Business. The Total Client Service Experience.” I have done this talk many times and usually am prepared for just about any question. During this presentation, however, I was asked a new one. An advisor from the crowd asked, “Why do we, as advisors, have to do client events such as appreciation or education events?” He stated that if we want to be viewed on the same level as other professionals (like a CPA or attorney), we cheapen ourselves by coming on too sales-y by hosting these type of events.
The BD representative that was keeping track of time in the back of room pointed to his watch, letting me know that I only had a few minutes before I had to end the talk. What a great question to wrap up with!
Clients need us to think ahead
Every year around April 15th, I finally complete my personal accounting and get the paperwork ready to give to my CPA, Bob. Bob knows that mine will be one of the last sets of documents he receives. K1s make me late every year. (That, and lots of procrastination.) Bob rushes through the documents and helps me file for an extension so we can finish up later in the year.
When I think of taxes and the role of a traditional CPA, Bob is the scorekeeper. Most of the damage has been done and we are settling up with the government for last year’s tax bill. He is reactive, as he is dealing with last year’s numbers. The CPA and, for most families, the attorney, are always dealing in what has happened, not what will happen in the future. That is exactly why your clients need you to host those events and educate them.
Your role is to get them to plan ahead, not look in a rear-view mirror. Our profession looks forward, which for most clients is not necessarily their strong suits. They need to be pushed to plan, but when done right, they are set for life — and isn’t that worth celebrating?
Client events don’t have to be over-the-top, huge affairs. In fact, we just created a video outlining how to host and get benefits out of events. (You can register for an invitation to the premiere.) Smaller, more intimate events are actually preferred by clients and prospects. But the key is to DO IT. Be out there. Be a planner, not a scorekeeper. Be proactive, not reactive.
With that said, I am getting a “high” sign from the guy in the back of the room. My time is up.
It’s officially Fall. With the change of season comes a renewed sense of focus — vacations are over, kids are back to school, and hopefully, you’re taking a fresh look at your business . Now is the time to concentrate on deepening client relationships and executing your Fall marketing campaign to build your pipeline of prospects. Priority #1 should be closing out 2011 on a positive note – and it’s within your grasp.
Today’s Cup of Links has tips on getting media exposure to promote your business, using seminars to grow your practice, and using storytelling in client discussions. So sit back, enjoy the articles and get planning.
Grabbing Media Exposure Online – By Bill Bongiorno in OnWallStreet
Here’s an excellent article on advisors getting published in newspapers and magazines. Key tips include targeting local media, writing letters to the editor, and writing bylined articles. Positioning yourself as an expert on the economy can lead you to getting media exposure– and potentially, new clients.
The Art & Science of How One RIA Grew Assets 125% by Springing for Several Hundred Steak Dinners a Year – by Gerri Leder in RIABiz
If you think that seminars are a thing of the past, read this article. Despite the down markets, the profiled advisor has continued to invest heavily in his Fall marketing campaign – including scheduling 12 to 15 seminars in the fourth quarter of this year alone. His advice to other advisors looking to test seminars as a means for prospecting:
- Be in it for the long haul
- Have a consistent process
- Immediately follow up with prospects
He shares some of his secrets, too (like the best days to have seminars and on what subjects), so check it out.
Tapping into the Power of Three – By Dan Richards in Advisor Perspectives
Trying to become a more effective storyteller? Richards suggests that you provide three examples when discussing situations with clients – it will convey that you’ve done your homework and have evidence to support your recommendations. Remember this tip when you’re in your next client review meeting and discussing the markets and whether or not they’re going to recover (hint: they will).