What are the secrets to consistent and successful delivery of your most important client meetings?
Firstly, rapport-building is over-rated.
Whilst I agree that rapport provides a vital oil between all successful relationships, I reckon too many advisers use rapport like the drunk using the lamp-post - for support rather than illumination.
When delivering value first year and every year - the most important driver of client meetings is trust.
Rapport will follow trust, but trust doesn't always follow rapport.
What's the secrets to building (and re-building every year) that trust?
Not just with you (unless you don't care about your your dependency?) but your whole team.
Here's the essence...
Start as Expert in your Process (very different to expert in your solution).
And do it every time, new clients, existing clients. The only exception might be your pro bono clients.
(Caveat - This approach is for your most important meetings - e.g. initial or annual progress meetings)
What's starting sharp?
Limit the very first conversation to about two minutes for new clients and only twice that for your existing clients.
This is the traditional Australian greeting topics such as - "good to see/meet you? find the parking OK? how's business?/the trip?/the children?/grandkids?"
It's quick because it isn't the valuable bit for your important meetings.
The second short conversation sets your objectives.
This is where you share what you're hoping to achieve in the meeting.
don't want to assume what is valuable for you this year"
everything we do aims to maximise the probability of you achieving and managing A, B, C (i.e. their objectives and issues)"
we need to understand collectively and individually what value is for you in the coming year"
(this assumes you are meeting with both members of couple/partnership), and, of course,
is there something pressing you wish to cover today?"
Here's a tip.
Don't address the pressing issue initially. You could lose control of your process.
Make notes, promise to come back to it and move onto the third conversation.
The third short conversation starts your search for value conversation.
Growth is always based upon critique NOT just practice...
Importantly these value conversations must be recorded with tools like this.
This is a must if you want to make these conversations consistent, specific, methodical by providing the basis for all improvement - an actual recording of what was said by all parties.
The search for value conversations are best conducted one at a time.
That is, don't engage both partners at the same time in the search for value conversations.
The problem letting them both talk about the value they seek in their financial lives is one partner may dominate, or worse, you don't create the opportunity to probe deeply for specifics.
You can't afford to miss their real value from each participant in their own words. Also be prepared to control one partner talking over or on behalf of their other partner. Productive probing and professional interrupting are vital arts.
So a sharp, enthusiastic and expert start should take not more than five minutes.
Then you start your own value discovery conversation.
One on one.
About ten minutes for first person and same for second.
There are many of these templates for the search for value conversations - our advisers are skilled and use what we call an outcomes map.
Other templates are provided by world-renowned experts such Bill Bachrach, Ross Levin, Dan Sullivan, Paul Etheridge, Bruce Wright.
This is different for most advisers....
The 'personality-based' advisers are sometimes critical of this approach and timing.
They believe their initial rapport approach 'gets' the client talking about the valuable bits.
The problem with that belief is their business becomes too dependent upon them and secondly they find it very hard to find and keep good advisers.
If there's a better, quicker, specific approach to get your prospects and existing clients talking about what's valuable to them which also reduces dependency, increases clients satisfaction, aligns your team and your clients whilst providing a basis for charging based upon VALUE not products or effort - are you interested?
Also sometimes, albeit rare, a client won't "play" along.
They'll want their pressing issue addressed NOW. Or they might ignore your start and suggest their own approach.
Whilst about 5% (that's only one in twenty!) of these important meetings might warrant you dropping your approach, most of these clients are giving you clear signs they are not ideal clients.
You decide what you are going to do with those client appointments.
If reading this far, you're not confident this approach would be accepted by your best clients - don't under-estimate yourself or the value you have delivered already.
For most of our advisers - real growth comes beyond existing comfort zones how they run their meetings with new and existing clients
Give it a go and let me know how you got on?
About Jim Stackpool
For nearly 30 years Jim has influenced, coached, and consulted to advisory firms across Australia. As founder of Certainty Advice Group, he leads a like-minded team of professional advisory firms seeking to create greater certainty for their clients. As an author, blogger, columnist, and keynote speaker, Jim is regularly called upon for his professional insights into the advice industry. His latest book Seeking Certainty is available now.