Darren Fleming is a speaker, author and trainer who helps financial planners and related professionals grow their practice. He has worked with a broad cross-section of businesses and public sector organisations throughout Australia.
One of the secrets to bringing in a regular flow of new clients is being able to connect with them on a personal level. Here are three tips to do that.
The secret to bringing in a constant stream of new clients is to connect with them before you try to sell your services to them. If the potential client sitting across the desk from you doesn’t feel that you ‘get their life’ and their situation, they will never work with you. It’s like going on a date – you have to connect with your date before you can get a kiss!
Connecting with clients is about them feeling that someone understands them and knows what their life is like. It’s your role to reach out and start a connection with them, so they can build a connection back to you, not the other way around.
Here are three ways to make connecting and influencing easier:
1. Let them tell you their stage of life
Planners know that each stage of life is different. The lifestyle and financial needs of new parents in their mid 20s are very different to plans of a recently divorced 53-year-old woman.
While planners know this, clients don’t know that you know.
So, let them tell you their story. Let them tell you what it’s like to be in their shoes. Ask them all the questions about their life, their issues, troubles and dreams. Ask the questions you would ask in a consultation with a client, so they can tell you their story.
When they tell you their story, clients will build a connection with you. When they tell you their story, they are investing in you and what you can do for them.
Keep the questions relevant to their stage of life. For the new parents, don’t lead with questions about what they want to do in retirement. Rather, focus on their plans for more children, managing cash flow through maternity leave, and how they will pay for their child’s schooling. Do they need a holiday?
While they are telling you their story, resist the temptation to sell to them. The quickest way to kill the connection is to make their story all about you. You will have your opportunity to tell them about you, but in the beginning, it’s all about them.
2. Solve their problems
Your clients may want you to set up investments for both short and long-term growth, with a mix of aggressive strategies and a hedge against market fluctuations. And while they will happily buy that from you, it’s not really what they are after.
What they want is to be able to sleep at night knowing they have their finances under control. The new parents want to know they will be able to have their second child and have one parent stay at home full-time to care, and still be able to make the mortgage payments. The 53-year-old divorcee wants to sleep knowing that she has a plan to get herself back onto her financial feet.
Keep the initial problems you solve relevant to their immediate financial needs. While you may be able to offer them an amazing superannuation strategy that gives them a great retirement lifestyle, what they will connect with today is a plan for their current problems. You can then introduce the superannuation strategy later.
3. Lead them
Most clients don’t know how to buy your services. After all, how often does someone engage a financial planner? So, make it easy for them to buy you.
What is the first step? Is it a free 30-minute review of their situation to see what needs to be set up? Is it a paid-for in-depth review to fully understand what needs to be set up? Or do you expect them to sign up before you do any work?
Whatever it is, make it easy for them to buy you.
Set out in the conversation how they can proceed to engaging your services. State clearly what your fees are, and do not be apologetic about them. Do not ask if the fees seem ‘alright’ or ‘fair’ to them. Don’t get caught in comparison with other financial planners. You don’t know what their cost base is or how much (or little) they are willing to make.
When you state your fees with confidence and without apology before they come on board, you show yourself to be a strong planner for them to engage. This gives you greater positioning and influence. It also makes it easier for you to influence your client when you’re working with them.