By Bill Cates
With COVID-19, the volatile stock market and the stalled economy, we are in a perfect storm. Many financial professionals are struggling with the balance between just “being there” for their clients and continuing to grow their business.
Here is a checklist of items to help you return to growth in an appropriate manner. This is meant to be an action list for you to check off the items as you complete them.
_____ Call all of your A+ clients. Your primary goal is to be an empathetic listener.
Bill Bachrach wisely pointed out, “You are not a doctor, but you can have resources at hand to share, such as the website for the Centers for Disease Control (www.CDC.gov). You are not a psychologist, but you can have resources at hand to share, such as the American Psychological Association help center link (www.APA.org/helpcenter.)”
I will add that you don’t want to get caught up in any politics or rumor speculation. Consider directing them to www.Snopes.com. This is where I can usually find accurate, nonpartisan, information on the latest rumor.
_____ As you are calling all of your A+ clients, either you or your staff should be sending 1:1 email messages to all your other clients to see if they have any questions and/or want to schedule a 15-minute phone (or online) appointment with you. In this way, everyone gets some sort of personal touch quickly. This email will mostly be a copy-paste situation, but at least use their name to show them that this message is not an impersonal email blast.
_____ Start every call with questions such as, “How are you doing?” “Are you healthy?” “How’s the family?” Be careful not to pivot too quickly to discussing finances. Yes, that’s your core expertise here. But you are in the people business. The people part comes first.
_____ Please don’t forget the spouse or partner in these conversations. Even if one spouse tends to take the lead in all of these conversations, try to arrange the call with both parties. If that’s not possible, get permission to call the spouse later to fill them in. Although I believe this should always be your strategy, it’s even more important now.
_____ Don’t limit this effort to just your clients. Reach out to some prospects you were courting, as well as your family, friends and even some neighbors.
This is not a sales call. This is a helping call. This is a human-to-human interaction during unprecedented times.
_____ Contact your A clients’ other key advisors. As you go through your client list trying to decide how to contact them and what to say, consider whether you should also reach out to their other trusted advisors – such as their CPA or business attorney.
Send a simple email letting them know that you are in touch with your shared client and that you are available for their questions.
_____ Consider hosting online (group) educational meetings. Ask your clients to invite guests. You can make it a straight presentation or make it a discussion. Once you are able to gather in groups again, host educational sessions for your various target groups.
_____ When your clients are appreciative of you reaching out and helping them gain perspective on the current situation, this can be the time to suggest possible introductions. Here’s one way to start the conversation:
George and Martha – I’d like to alert you to something that you may experience over the coming weeks and months. You may find yourself in conversations with your friends, family, and/or colleagues about how everyone is weathering this financial storm.
Not everyone has this kind of relationship.
If you learn that anyone is displeased with the advice they received or the level of communication from their current advisor, please don’t keep me a secret. Please let them know that I’m never too busy to take a look at their situation, to see if I can be of any assistance. If they seem interested, I’d love an introduction.
_____ If you have a strong relationship with your clients and they are truly feeling OK in the midst of this volatile market, then you can consider asking for specific introductions.
The conversation might go something like this:
George and Martha – What we’re going through right now seems to bring out the best and worst in my profession. Some advisors face these things head on, as I am doing with you. My colleagues and I do everything we can to provide perspective and adjustments as needed.
Unfortunately, other advisors are hiding under their desks or, in some way, avoiding the difficult conversations – leaving their clients to wonder where they stand.
I know that your sister and brother-in-law are in the area. Assuming we find an approach that feels comfortable to everyone, how do you feel about introducing me to them – just to make sure they are being served properly and getting the information they need?
First and foremost, you must take care of your clients – to ease their concerns and take a leadership role by helping them to make the right decisions. Second, be willing to bring your expertise to others. Don’t wait for them to come to you. Be appropriately proactive!
Bill Cates, CSP, CPAE, is the author of Get More Referrals Now, Beyond Referrals, and Radical Relevance, and the founder of The Cates Academy for Relationship Marketing. Bill may be contacted at [email protected].
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