I often hear advisers complaining that clients are more demanding, harder to satisfy, less forgiving and less loyal than ever before. I agree, but this is welcome news to me. Why? Because those traits make it much easier to establish new relationships with my competitor's clients. If my competitor's clients are happy, content and loyal to their current adviser, why would they want to give me the opportunity to compete for their business?
The thought that my clients are actually someone else's prospects is all the motivation I need to show my clients they are wanted and appreciated. We should never think our clients — no matter how much money they have — don't need to feel wanted and appreciated. When they think we are taking them for granted, we open the door to competitors.
The single most important thing needed to develop a positive, productive relationship is trust. I am amazed at how little training we get on how to build trust with our clients. Something that is so paramount to the success of our business is so often neglected.
One of the best coaches in the area of trust building is Bill Bachrach. I read Bill's book, “Values-Based Selling,” and am impressed with his message. It is refreshing to have someone emphasize the importance of building trust and advise us to quit worrying about fancy sales techniques. As Bill points out, trust does not depend on how long you have known your clients. It depends on how deep you can get into conversations about their core values and beliefs.
I frequently engage in conversations with prospects and clients concerning religion, children, divorce, education and politics. My objective is to uncover their core values and beliefs. The more I can get prospects and clients to talk about what is important to them, the closer I am to building a relationship based on trust. People don't give me business because they think I am brighter than the next person. They give me business because they trust me. I make them feel important.
How do I begin the process of building trust with clients? Frankly, it is quite simple. Think for a moment about how you would want to be treated if you were the client. I would want my adviser to talk about me — and not himself. I would want my adviser to ask me questions about my wife, children and hobbies. I would want my adviser to inquire about what is most important in my life and what I want my money to do for me. An adviser can't accomplish this if he is doing all the talking. Instead of talking, you need to be asking and listening.
If you are having trouble with this idea, it might help to remember that many consider a dog to be the best salesperson ever. That's right, good ol' Fido! He is the only animal that doesn't have to work for a living. A hen lays eggs, a cow gives milk, but a dog makes his living by showing genuine interest in others. His reward? Food, shelter, medical care, love, affection and friendship. They are all for his taking.
Our reward for showing the same to our clients is a wonderful feeling of making a difference in people's lives, a sense of accomplishment, and, oh yes, a multimillion-dollar business.
Harry Pappas Jr. is a senior vice president at a major firm in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., one of Registered Representative's Outstanding Brokers and the author of the manual “Selling From the Heart.”