By

Philadelphia

When a presentation is entitled “: The Four Keys To Growing Your Business,” a financial professional would have to be pretty incurious not to attend. That was definitely not the case, however, at the opening general session of the annual meeting of the Financial Planning Association, which was packed to hear Harry Beckwith on this topic.

Many planners subscribe to the belief that clients are sensitive to the fees they charge, but Beckwith would have none of it. “Your fees indicate the value you assign to your services,” he said, “so the higher the fees” the more value a planner is perceived to have.

People are sensitive to low prices, not high prices, particularly in regard to services, Beckwith contended. As an example, he asked the audience how many would go to a surgeon who charged only a few dollars for a procedure such as lasik surgery. Price, he told the planners, is “the value you communicate to the client.”

Second, it pays for planners to establish a brand for themselves, he said, because “people experience what they think the brand promises they will experience.” As an example, he said, if we go to a very expensive, exclusive restaurant most of us will think the food is superb, even if it is not.

Next, he said, “we think with our eyes. We may know better, but we act illogically.” Were not rational, he said, which is why the power of packaging is so important.

Finally, he said, every service is a relationshipits the connection you make. “Youre not selling a product, youre selling you. Youre selling how important you make the client feel. Its about how the client feels about you.”

Beckwith said there were seven keys to establishing extraordinary relationships with clients.

First, he said, “our desire for speed has become so strong that its almost real time. So when you answer your phone on one ring, it shows clients they are important to you.”

One thing that planners should be tackling is how to move to real time to make their service better.

“The clarity with which you communicate your expertise is key to how people feel about you,” Beckwith said, and this is true both orally and in writing. “Make your expertise apparent,” he advised.

A third key was the power of a story to illustrate a point rather than using technical explanations or financial jargon.

Fourth is the immense power of giving thanks or showing appreciation.

Next is the power of follow-up, Beckwith said. Calling back within 24 hours really impresses people.

Also key is how you welcome people, he said, meaning the first couple of sentences and the warmth you project in the first few seconds of meeting a client.

And finally, he advised, learn and use peoples names and their kids namesit makes them feel special and important.

Summing up the general attitude that he feels planners should have, Beckwith said, “Play the game with the courage and belief that enable you to take risks.” Optimists have this attitude, he added.

And finally, he told the planners: “Dont take the path of least resistance, it doesnt go anywhere. Take the path that goes along the edge of the cliffthe thrill of the ride will carry you.”


Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, November 21, 2003. Copyright 2003 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.