The Best Way to Improve What You Do is to Listen to the People You Do it For
All elite professionals understand the importance of ongoing personal and business development. Top performers know that they have to be continually sharpening their skills. It’s true, to earn more we have to learn more. But it can be a challenge to make the time and to measure the ROI. That said, and as the metaphor reminds us, you can never be too busy cutting wood that you can’t make time to sharpen your saw.
Now you might be thinking that I’m going to recommend that you attend seminars and boot camps, hire a coach, read books and participate in virtual learning programs to improve your skills and deliverables. All of those options are fine. But before you ever listen to an outsider giving you advice, listen to your clients. They are far better equipped to tell you what you need to do to improve. As Mark Twain said, “The customer is the only critic whose opinion really counts.”
There is a double-win when you listen to your clients. Not only do you get a clear sense in terms of how they perceive you (and describe you to others) but you also can use this initiative to drive business. The ideas in this Actionable Tip of the Week can create an invaluable foundation for on-going client acquisition. We’ve seen several advisors achieve meaningful breakthroughs using some of these simple strategies.
You can start with a low-key and informal survey using probing questions during your next round of client call rotations. As you know, we recommend that you consistently reach out to your best clients via the telephone as part of your ongoing service process. As you also probably know, we suggest that you approach each call with the goal of being interested rather than trying to be interesting. You aren’t calling to sell something or be the bearer of profound news or insight. You are simply touching base and asking good questions. This is about competitor-proofing and long-term relationship management. Obviously you want the initial questions to be about the client and their F.O.R.M. (Family, Occupation, Recreational interests and Money) But there is a natural segue in every call where you can shift the focus to you while still asking their opinion.
1. To ask to get a sense for their satisfaction and loyalty is:
What’s the one thing that you really value most about our relationship?
2. To see if they understand everything you do and provide:
Have we done an effective job explaining our full array of services?
3. To get the client thinking about people they could introduce is:
When you talk about me with a friend, what do you say? How do you describe me?
It’s a good idea to start a question with this simple softening statement:
If you don’t mind me asking…
And then clarify the question with a little more details by saying:
The reason I’m asking is….
The key here is that you aren’t marketing to yourself. It’s easy to get into a bit of a vacuum with your business development efforts and lose objectivity. These questions get the clients engaged so that you can get a sense for where you stand.
From a loyalty perspective, your clients are exposed to countless competitive messages. You want to show them that you don’t take them for granted. From a money-in-motion perspective, your clients’ needs are constantly evolving. As a new need presents itself, you want the client to instantly think of you as the person to fill that need.
From an advocacy perspective, you don’t know when a referral opportunity will come about but when it does you want to be top of mind with your clients so that they will be compelled to endorse you.
Contributed by: Duncan MacPherson