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Remove Your Earmuffs and Ask for Feedback

Most financial professionals we know don’t ask for feedback. Why? Maybe they’re afraid of what they might hear or they simply don’t think to ask. Truthful and constructive feedback can be a gift. The right feedback can give you insights into how to service your existing clients better and how to market your services more effectively.

As you begin to ask for feedback, keep the following rules in mind.

  • Ask narrow, not broad questions.
    Asking a question like, “Anything we could be doing better?” can come across as insincere and will not elicit very helpful responses. Asking a question like “What’s your opinion on the frequency of our meetings?” seems genuine and gives you more useful insights.
  • Preface before you ask.
    Before you blurt out a random solicitation for feedback, explain why you are asking. We call this prefacing. Prefacing helps you get honest, candid responses. For instance, “We’re looking at making changes to XYZ….”

Keeping the above rules in mind, the following are six instances where asking for feedback can be invaluable.

1. When you’re onboarding a new client
Onboarding a new client is an excellent opportunity to learn which of your selling points won them over. As you ask this question more often and trends emerge, you can use these key selling points more heavily in your language, promotional materials and online.

“We’re honored you selected us and are excited to begin working with you. We’re always curious—what made you decide to work with us?”

2. When a prospect decides not to work with you
Swallow your pride and just ask. This is an opportunity to learn and receive information that will help you with the next prospect.

“I appreciate you letting me know you’ve decided to move in another direction. We’re always looking to improve and I’d love some feedback about our process. Were there one or two things that led you to choose another advisor?”

3. In the middle of a review meeting
There’s no better time to gauge your service and value than during the middle of a review meeting with a client. But notice we said “in the middle” of a review meeting. Asking at the beginning or end comes across as less sincere and may result in a less helpful answer.

“We’re always looking to improve our service, and I want to get your input on our communication. What are your interactions like with our team?”

“We’re in the process of examining the frequency of our review meetings with clients and I wanted to get your input. How do you feel about the frequency of our quarterly meetings?”

“We’re currently working on (our website, social media profiles, etc.) and want to make sure we do a good job telling our story and explaining our value. You’ve been with us for 10 years and I know you worked with some other professionals before us. From your perspective, what do you value most about working with us?”

4. After clients attend an appreciation or educational event
If you are curious about how to improve certain aspects of your client events, this is a great time to ask. Remember, narrow your focus.

“Thanks again for joining us at the wine tasting last week. I wanted to get your input regarding the venue….”

5. When you refer your clients to another professional (CPA, estate attorney, etc.)
When you refer your clients to another professional, you should always ask for feedback afterwards—not on your performance, but on the performance of the other professional. This is an opportunity to determine if they are a good fit or if you need to refer them to someone else.

“How did your meeting with John Smith go? Are you planning to work with him? How was your experience?”

6. When you lose a client
How many clients have you lost in the last 12 months? Do you know why they left? You might have an inkling as to why it didn’t work out, but unless you ask, you’ll never truly know. Remember, you’re not trying to salvage the relationship at this point. Instead, you’re trying to get clarity.   

“I respect your decision to go in a different direction. Give it to me straight: What could we have done differently? Was it performance? Communication?”

Without feedback, you’re walking blind. If your goal is continual improvement (and we think it should be), you need to incorporate a continual feedback loop into what you do. Not to mention, asking for feedback shows clients and prospects you care about their opinion. It makes them feel important, and that’s never a bad thing.

If you’d like to watch the video that accompanies this article, check out Episode 38 of the Stephen and Kevin Show.

@StephenBoswell is President of The Oechsli Institute and author of Best Practices of Elite Advisors. @KevinANichols is the Chief Operating Officer for The Oechsli Institute and author of The Indispensable LinkedIn Sales Guide for Financial Advisors.  

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