Atlanta: “I’m just not ready to get out there and socialize with my affluent clients,” groaned Carl as he shifted nervously from foot to foot then finally asked “Is there anything else I can do to get more personal with my clients?”
It was obvious that Carl wasn’t going to be comfortable rubbing shoulders with his affluent clients in social settings. Not unlike many advisors, he needs the structure, security, and control of the official in office “portfolio review” meeting. However our recent affluent research is quite clear, advisors who have established both a business and personal relationship with their affluent clients ranked higher in every statistically significant metric. From financial planning to service, these advisors scored higher.
All of this got Carl thinking, as it should, but made him extremely uncomfortable. He wasn’t a social person and didn’t do well in social settings. With that background, I shared with him how one of our coaches used surprise and delight touches to help a socially self-conscious advisor baby-step his way into developing a stronger personal relationship with his affluent clients. Carl was all ears.
I explained that this process will probably require him to do a little leg-work to gather personal information about his top clients that could uncover a possible surprise and delight opportunity. I further explained that the end of the school year, late spring, is a wonderful time to begin this campaign as there are numerous opportunities; graduations, weddings, vacations and the like.
The beauty of a proactive surprise and delight campaign is that it activates the law of reciprocity. You kindly extend a small, but meaningful gift to an affluent client, and it’s remembered. When you ask to be introduced to a colleague of this client, you’re virtually assured of a positive reception. In fact, the power of surprise and delight is so strong that it’s not unusual for affluent clients to go out of their way to facilitate a personal introduction.
But, as I explained to Carl, you have to get the right gifts, and four simple steps are all that’s required.
4 Steps to Unlocking the Power of Surprise & Delight
You will want to get your entire team involved in extending client conversations and uncovering opportunities. Don’t over think this, your clients will be surprised that you were listening and know that they’re having a life event or are passionate about something.
Step 1: Review all of the information you have currently gathered on each of your top clients, organize it in prioritized order that starts with the basics; names of family members, ages, birthdays, graduations, sports, hobbies, anniversaries, vacations, restaurants, and so on. You will want to create a standard form that you can use with your CRM system.
Step 2: Gather personal information as often as possible on your top clients. This is easily accomplished by extending client conversations. So for example, Mrs. Oechsli calls, speaks with your assistant and wants to know the balance on a particular account. Your assistant provides the answer in a very professional and pleasant manner, but rather than saying goodbye to Mrs. Oechsli and moving on to the next call, she asks a simple question “How’s the family?” Most affluent clients love talking about their family and this is the step where you can get personal while gathering life event and topical information that can ignite the power of surprise and delight.
Do not send your affluent clients a form to gather this type of personal information! This is mechanical and comes across as disingenuous – it’s a big no-no. Personal information must be gathered in a conversational, personal, manner.
Step 3: Select the right gift. The idea is to make it personal. I recently listened to one of our coaches tell how an advisor she was coaching acquired two new affluent clients from sending his client three Ken Burns coffee table books on National Parks. This client was taking a two week vacation with two other couples to visit a number of our National Parks.
Step 4: Institutionalize the power of surprise and delight into your team’s process. You can do this by simply adding it as an agenda item to be discussed at your weekly team meeting. We’ve found the best results occur when the responsibility is delegated to an assistant. When an assistant takes ownership, this agenda item rarely is overlooked. Essentially you’re making everyone accountable for the power of surprise and delight and strengthening the loyalty of your top clients.
I’m not sure whether or not Carl followed through on these four steps; shame on him if he didn’t. But I do know that the advisor who was being coached to these baby-steps got such powerful results that he gained enough confidence to begin having non-business dinners with his affluent clients as couples.
This is the perfect time of year to integrate the power of surprise and delight into your practice.
Matt Oechsli is the author of The Art of Selling to the Affluent. His firm, The Oechsli Institute does ongoing research and coaching for nearly every major financial services firm in the US. To take the first step towards coaching, complete the pre-coaching business profile for a complimentary consultation.