While prospecting is certainly essential to your future, you’re already spending several hours a day with clients. If you allocate some of that time to a new prospecting campaign, you have unknowingly signed up for a guaranteed income reduction plan.
You need to view a major prospecting campaign the same way you would if you were building a new business. To do that, you need time and money, and those can come from your existing business, i.e., your current clients.
This is why every marketing campaign — even a prospecting campaign — should start with client marketing. You take at least some of the increased revenue in order to buy some time by hiring additional staff or outsourcing something you’ve been doing. This, in turn, gives you the time to create your new business. Because you don’t reduce the time you were spending with clients, you don’t reduce your income in the short term.
Where To Start
Any marketing plan starts with an assessment: How well are you doing? Perhaps the first step in that assessment is to know what to assess, so let’s start with a definition.
Clients are people with whom you have a business relationship. More specifically, a client is someone who has bought something from you. Advisors frequently tell me things like, “I have 122 real clients and 394 customers.” In my book, they have 122 “A” clients and 394 “B, C and D” clients, many of which are somebody else’s “A” clients.
Treat your “Bs, Cs and Ds” like “As,” and many will become “As.” This should be a primary objective for your client marketing plan. Another way to put this is that you want to become the sole provider for those clients who follow advice. When you have become sole provider, you have acquired an “A” client.
The first phase in a solid client marketing plan is to increase retention. Actions taken to retain client relationships are by far the most important marketing you will undertake. As you’ve often heard, “It costs five times as much to get a new client as it does to keep an old one.”
Retain clients by handling the three reasons advisors lose clients:
o bad investment advice
o poor (or no) service
o not enough communication.
First, assess your investment performance. If it compares unfavorably with the major indices, you need to overhaul your investment strategies, your funds, your managers and so on.
Next, measure your service against these standards. Use a scale of 1 to 10 (perfection):
o Is your client service performed by a full-time service professional?
o Are most service requests routinely handled in 24 hours or less?
o Are 100 percent of service requests handled correctly?
o Is service always done with a smile?
Great service cannot be performed with consistent speed by a financial advisor because you have an inherent conflict of interest between revenue and service. If you scored above 35, you’re doing great. But if not, you need to handle these points.
The communication issue can be handled by assessing yourself according to these factors:
o Do you send every client a message every month about something the client is interested in?
o Does every client receive a phone call from someone in your office every 90 days?
o Does every client and every spouse receive a birthday greeting every year?
o Do you make frequent use of “Etiquette Letters” (Appreciation, Congratulations, Get Well, Appointment Confirmation, Condolence)?
o Do you invite every client to a performance review at least once a year?
o Do you invite every client to an educational seminar at least once a year?