Impress Your Clients During The Pandemic And Beyond
By Bryce Sanders
Everyone is affected. It’s fair to say everyone around the world has their lives disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fortunately for you, you are not in a hospital on a ventilator. You are likely working remotely, also known as confined to barracks at home. You can venture out for what you need (food, fuel, pharmaceuticals) but not what you want (live music, movies, shopping). Your clients are in the same situation. How can you “be there for them?” Build good will? Become their top trusted advisor going forward?
Let’s Talk Business
You sell insurance. The stock market has been falling. That little voice says, “Not my problem.” Wrong. Your client’s problem is your problem. Why? Because you care about your clients.
Get some answers. Find out what your firm and marketing partners are saying about the stock market. Anticipate client questions. Make a list. Call the right people at headquarters to get answers.
You don’t want to tell clients: “We have no idea, but I just wanted to call.” Ideally, you can have some “If, then” answers. “If (this) happens, then our analysts think (this) will happen.” Your clients know you can’t accurately predict the future. They should appreciate you are projecting some possible outcomes.
Call clients. Try to call all of them. You might think your book of business is like an airplane with first class, business class and coach class seats. But you own the plane. Every client is your passenger. You want all of them to land safely.
Remind them what they own. Many clients won’t know. They might be scared about market volatility, yet they might own an insurance product with limited stock market participation and downside protection. They might have a fixed annuity that quietly earns interest, regardless of what’s happening in the stock market. There are times when boring is beautiful.
What does guarantee mean? Your clients’ bank deposit should have some federal government insurance behind it, a comforting fact in case the bank has problems. Insurance products are backed by the insurance company. Clients need to know whether the firm is solid. Ratings by those independent services should help.
What should they do now? If you are licensed to sell investments and your clients have cash, this might be the time to suggest they do a little buying. They don’t need to go all in, but instinctively they know “buy low, sell high” is how it’s supposed to work. Even if they refuse, they will remember you suggested it. If they buy, they will tell their friends, “When the market was falling, I was buying.”
Remind me again, what do insurance professionals do after a hurricane? Oh, yes. They show up and assess damage. You aren’t writing any checks for damages, but you should talk with your clients about their entire portfolio, their stuff everywhere, how they did and what actions they should be considering. Someone needs to take charge. If it’s not you, it will be another advisor.
The Personal Side
You like your clients as people. Clients frequently become close friends. What seems difficult is turning close friends into clients. That’s a subject for another time.
Keep in touch via e-mail. You aren’t going to call clients every day. You might have a newsletter with updated market or COVID-19 info. Send it to clients regularly. It keeps your name in front of them.
Call and talk about their situation. Are they at home or at work? Are their children with them? How are they passing the time? Do they have enough basic food? You aren’t going to run over with a delivery, because people have been told to stay home. But you probably know which stores are open and who had what supplies on the shelves. Some stores are restricting certain hours for senior citizens, so they don’t need to fight the crowds. You can pass that information along to your older clients.
What are you doing with your time? You aren’t going to say, “Don’t be a coach potato, here’s what you should be doing ...” Instead, tell them what your schedule looks like. You are calling clients. This lets them you care about all your clients. It also lets them know you are putting their needs above your own. That’s big.
Tell them about your spring cleaning projects. Getting your garden ready. It’s spring now. How you are keeping your children entertained? You are planting seeds.
Helping charities. You are active with nonprofits. So are many of your clients. We forget charitable contributions are one of the easiest discretionary expenses to drop. Nonprofits usually hold fundraisers during the spring to support their mission. Donors may not be sitting under a tent and bidding at live auctions or gathering around the banquet buffet, but nonprofits still need to raise funds.
Send money to your food pantry or other favorite charity. Let your clients know you are doing this. You are planting another seed.
Religious services. Yes, attending religious services is a very personal matter. It’s also part of many people’s weekend routine. Now services are disrupted because gatherings of any size are prohibited. Let clients know services for different faiths are televised or live streamed. Know some times and stations. Suggest a Google search if you don’t have the answer to their specific question.
The Non-Client Side
You aren’t going to be prospecting during a pandemic. Besides being in bad taste, it has been outlawed in places like New York State during their state of emergency. But you can be a good person and friend, getting in touch with people you know near and far.
Social media. You have plenty of LinkedIn connections. You know some of them better than others. Assuming your firm allows messaging, get in touch. Briefly explain your pandemic situation, ask what’s happening where they live.
Call them. Let them know you care. Ask if they need anything. You may not be in a position to drive over to see them, but you might be able to order what they need on Amazon and have it delivered to them. They are family. Families support one another.
Maybe you are close, maybe not. Call and check in. Do you usually see them checking the mail or putting out the trash at a certain time? Call, especially if their routine has changed. Again, it shows you care.
Caring For Yourself
You might not be writing business, but you are making effective use of your time. Clients are impressed. Friends and family know you care. But what about you?
Immediate family. Don’t spend all your time in your home office. Spend time with your nearest and dearest. Their routines are disrupted, too. Take time to talk. Listen too.
Don’t be glued to TV news. You can’t change anything. However, it’s OK to check in on the news periodically. If your normal routine is to watch the news at 7 a.m. and 6 p.m., what’s wrong with that?
Time is a gift. It might not feel that way, but if you’ve wanted to reread a book, watch a movie or start to learn another language, now is a good time to get started. You are rewarding yourself.
Yes, this has been a difficult time. Unlike a hurricane in one part of the country or brushfires on the other side of the world, this is something we are all going through together. Be there for others.
Bryce Sanders is president of Perceptive Business Solutions, New Hope, Pa. He provides high net worth client acquisition training for the financial services industry. He is the author of Captivating the Wealthy Investor. Bryce may be contacted at [email protected]