Developing an effective On-Boarding Process
My favorite topics for these articles stem from conversations I have with our coaching staff at Pareto Systems who share success stories from the field with me. Our coaching staff and I often have “Proof that it Works” conversations where they pass along feedback in terms of the impact our strategies are having on an advisor’s business.
Recently, I heard an interesting example about the importance of the New Client Process. As you may know, this process is the series of steps that take place from the moment you get a referral phone call right up to the point where you officially welcome a new person as a client, and everything in between. Many like to call this the On-boarding process.
At a glance, the New Client Process has five distinct steps:
- The Pre-Appointment Phase
- The 1st Appointment (or Fit Appointment)
- The Second Appointment
- The Third Appointment
- And finally, the New Client Welcome
Now, some might say that this seems like an awful lot of steps, and they would be right, but these are all necessary steps. This process is extremely attractive to potential clients, and more often than not, as a result of going through this process, the potential client ends up trying to convince the advisor to take them on as a client! On a regular basis, we also see advisors get referrals from someone shortly after bringing them on as a client! We see it happen all the time.
The coach who shared this story with me works with two brothers who have a successful practice in California. Both use this very same New Client Process, and they are enjoying a lot of success from this process and from their terrific implementation of it.
One of the brothers recently met with a prospective client, a wealthy lady who had north of $1,000,000 in investable assets.
As they sat down, and as the advisor pulled out the agenda to start the meeting, the lady announced the following: “I want you to know that I am interviewing different advisors.”
The advisor, in a cool and collected way, replied: “Well, I would be surprised if you weren’t. The reality is that we are interviewing you today as well. It is very important to our practice that my brother and I only take on clients that are a good fit.”
I only wish that I was in the room at the time when they were having this meeting, so I could have seen how the dynamic changed after the advisor replied in this fashion. He didn’t try to sell harder, or any of that nonsense, he simply stated the truth, which was that there were two decisions being made that day, both hers and his.
The wealthy lady became a client. It turned out that she had interviewed four different advisors in total, and the third such interview was with our client. It was just a few days later when a thank-you card arrived at the advisor’s office. It was from the very same lady, and in the card, she thanked them for deciding to take her on as a client. What a change in attitude from that first meeting, and it all had to do with the attractiveness of the New Client Process, and the skill of our client in implementing it.
The woman wasn’t done yet though. Shortly after the thank-you card arrived, my client received an email from her. She had copied her CPA on the email, and the message said: “You guys have to meet each other. The advisor gave the CPA a call, and they got together for lunch.
Over the lunch, my client learned that the CPA had a huge operation with 24 staff, and they specialized in ultra high-net worth types; the richest of the rich.
The advisor and his brother specialize in clientele in the 1-10 million range. The advisor candidly told the CPA this, and also told him that the ultra high-net worth types weren’t really their niche.
Ironically, it turns out that the 1-10 million range wasn’t the CPA’s niche either. His focus was going to remain on the ultra high-net worth types, and he and my client are now discussing the CPA referring over business in the 1-10 million range to my clients as it appears. He regularly receives those types of referrals, but isn’t really interested in that kind of business. The advisors certainly are though!
The next step is to show the CPA the highlights of the New Client Process, so that when the CPA does refer someone, he can take great confidence on that they will be well looked after, and how it will be done.
The bottom line is this. When you apply stewardship over salesmanship with a prospective client, you not only contrast yourself favorably to other advisors, you are also positioning yourself for advocacy with that person immediately. And then the domino effect begins.
Contributed by Duncan MacPherson