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Practice Management > Building Your Business

Are your clients special?

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One of my new clients, Charlotte, received a very terse letter from each of two brokerage firms. We were moving some of her assets to an insurance company. They stated firmly that they wouldn’t honor her written request for an institution-to-institution transfer.

There are probably some regulatory reasons to be so obtuse, but there are certainly consequences to handling the situation in such an adversarial tone.

I asked my client how she felt about such treatment. Charlotte said she felt intimidated. Such a lame attempt at keeping a client’s account only reveals the weakness of these firms’ value. Charlotte is no longer comfortable with her money exposed to market risks at age 70. She wishes to move money. Notice the emphasis on “her.” These companies now have an adversarial relationship with Charlotte. It turns out all they wanted was the request on their forms. So why not communicate that to the agent rather than the client? Or, at least, be nice about it?

Here’s my point: Why make it hard for clients to do business? Charlotte is 70 years old. She doesn’t like hassles. In a world where getting a client is tough, let’s keep it simple and hassle free. Fortunately, Charlotte was a good sport. However, she could have easily thrown in the towel.

Making your clients special gets referrals and improves your reputation.

Currently, there are very few effective methods of acquiring clients. Good old referrals, seminars and some direct mail efforts are among the few effective methods. However, nothing works well without making it easy for clients to like you and the way you do business.

Mike, an insurance agent, sold a life insurance policy to a restaurant owner. One night at closing, the owner locked up the restaurant, and as he and his wife were going to their car, they were robbed. Mike’s client was killed. His wife was left unharmed, but in shock.

Mike heard about it on the 11 o’clock news and arrived at the widow’s house the next morning with a personal check to cover her initial expenses. He knew it would be a few days before he could secure the death benefit for this grieving widow. When she received the death benefits, she returned Mike’s money with heartfelt gratitude. The story of what Mike did went viral, and Mike’s business once again took off. Mike’s picture graces the halls of a major insurance company. He was their top producer for years before he retired. It’s not difficult to understand why.

Are you offering regular reviews and updates for your clients? Are they seeing you regularly? If not, why not? You may feel some of your clients are “tapped out;” they can’t generate any more revenues for your practice. In determining which clients should have more attention than others, use the following criteria:

1) Do the products you sell require maintenance?

2) Is there any potential for further business from this client? Do they have a clear path of ambitious improvement financially?

3) What is the potential for referrals from this client? Have they readily referred prospects or does it require coaxing or begging?

4) Did they test your practice with a portion of their financial potential and are discovering if your practice fulfills their expectation? If so, then there is potential.

Develop a scoring system for follow-up procedures. Give them a grade — A, B, C, D, etc. This will help you spend practical time with the clients of greatest potential. It will also help you drop clients from a follow-up list, clearing your schedule for initial prospects gathering.

Your clients will treat you as well as you treat them. When you determine a level of service for each client, your practice will be allowed to thrive.

For more from Kim Magdalein, see:

Successful agents build bridges

Sales: The final frontier

Loyalty counts