Pro Tips

Surpassing Competitors in a Tumultuous Environment

by Tiffany Markarian

With everything going on right now with the market and Corona, how we interact with clients is our main competitive advantage. To be a first-class winning organization, you need to know how to serve your clients’ emotional needs, not just their economic needs. When we have an exceptional and elevated experience, it stays with us. This is the key to surpassing competitors in a tumultuous environment.

Many financial advisors and professionals are not taking care of their clients’ deep-seated needs. They are keeping a basic level of service and communication they can manage. Let’s tell the truth, our current working environment is disrupted. But, the important thing is to keep our clients comfortable. They want to know they are going to be OK.

Deep-Seated Conversations with Clients

Proactive and deep-seated conversations with clients does not happen by email. It is not telling clients you are open for business or that you have hand sanitizer in the lobby. They need to know if they are still on track with their long-term objectives and that they can make up for any losses. We cannot miss this opportunity to talk to our clients personally, otherwise your competitors will surpass you.

Real conversations with clients in a Coronavirus environment need to happen by phone or virtual means, not email.

Many advisors have said over the past few weeks, I haven’t heard from a lot of clients. I think we’ve educated them well. The clients who are calling are the most anxious.

Yes, of course, the clients who are most anxious will call. We need to be more concerned about the clients who are not calling, because they may think you don’t care about them. We need to reach out to clients and let them know we’re watching things for them. It is about taking care of their emotional fears, uncertainties and doubts.

When talking with clients, ask them, what questions do you have? This will uncover what is really on their mind. Clients want to know you are there and that they are in the right place. They need to see you are working on things and watching things on their behalf. They must hear this from you through your voice. It is one of the most important aspects of the client experience.

Help Your Clients Talk About Things that are Uncomfortable.

Focus your conversations on your clients’ emotional concerns:

  • What are 3 things they are most concerned about right now…and long-term?
  • Tell your clients what you are doing on their behalf to help manage their long-term objectives and emergency funding needs.
  • Run simulations against the objectives you originally set forth.
  • Help your clients stay focused on their long-term objectives by giving them assurance, comfort and ways to move forward.
  • Be specific on what you are doing.

During this time of acquiring dissatisfied clients, remember, clients have a need for new experiences. They don’t want more of the same. They want a better experience that goes deeper into their personal needs and how they can gain a better sense of structure.

Knowing the True Client Experience

Many financial advisors and their staff think the client experience is solely having a client’s financial security in good hands. They base their entire focus on account management, portfolio theories or insurance products. This is not the true client experience. The true client experience is when the client feels their emotional security is just as important to you as their economic security. It is about taking care of their personal well-being.

It is not just about good service, transacting paperwork or re-balancing accounts. It’s not putting them in investments that are suitable or being a fiduciary or having good staff. Those are all things that are expected.

The true client experience is everything the client feels and observes. Everyone in your firm is part of it. If you are not proactively talking to clients in this environment, your client can feel alone. Knowing this is the key to surpassing competitors.

Clients are Talking About Their Advisor

Your clients are talking to their family members, their peers and their professional network. You want them to brag about the peace they feel knowing you are there for them and giving them comfort. You want your clients to express to other potential clients the way you care for them; that their financial needs and their family are your top priority.

Too many advisors are focusing on accounts, which in turn, makes their clients feel like an account. You want clients to feel they matter and are in the right place.

It’s one thing to be an expert, but it’s equal parts expertise and psychology.

Clients have emotions about their money and their ability to keep their business or family afloat long-term. They don’t want to be treated like an account. Clients are sharing notes with each other about their advisors. You want to be the star in those conversations through the way your clients talk about you.

Responding to Clients’ Concerns

When talking with your client, they may ask ‘what is my portfolio balance right now?’ How you respond to this question is a make or break decision in solidifying their client experience. You may say, let’s look at your account(s). That can actually send the wrong message, because now we’re treating the client like an account.

What we should say is:

Janet, let’s also look in particular about where you are against your objectives. Let’s look at the plans we put forward 2 years ago and updated last year. That is of utmost importance to us in making sure your long-term objectives stay on track. 

When talking about your competency or competitive advantages over other advisors, it is not just about your skill sets, your people or your process. It is how you communicate with the client as an individual. There are many advisors not calling their clients or addressing conversations the right way. This is your opportunity for acquiring dissatisfied clients.

You need to have your competitive advantages in the right position when surpassing competitors. Most importantly, you need to communicate how you deliver value to clients. Your brand messaging and value proposition needs to be about how you address your clients’ emotional needs and desired outcomes.

Communicating Your Competitive Advantages

So, if we’re in an acquisition opportunity right now to capture and foster new client relationships from advisors who aren’t hitting the mark, the client is going to ask you what makes you different. This is a pivotal moment where you communicate your distinct competitive advantages.

Rest assured, a prospective client already has a checklist in their head. If they are moving from another advisor or firm, they are going to compare you to that other advisor.

Work on Your Value Proposition

When someone asks you, what makes you different, you can say to them, what our clients say makes us distinct is they never feel alone in their financial planning. That we bring them a greater sense of structure.

Land the point of how you personally work with clients to bring a greater sense of comfort. You need to uncover the prospect’s true emotional needs through patient listening. Don’t banter on about your process, your experience or platform. This is not your value proposition. Prospective clients want to know how your working relationship and experience will be distinct. Don’t talk about your fee, because the person will focus on what they have to pay. Spend more time talking about their concerns and objectives.

Quit the Jargon

Once and for all, stop using fancy industry words and jargon such as open architecture, portfolio theories, asset diversification, hybrid products or your designations. Clients do not talk this way. You need to focus on the outcomes and benefits they can achieve with you. Clients want to know what they can accomplish with you and how they can personally benefit from working with you.

Your explanation of value has to be about the outcomes clients truly desire. Such as:

  • A greater sense of security.
  • Greater control over their finances.
  • Never feeling alone in their financial planning.
  • Having an advisor who cares about them and their well-being.
  • Having someone connect with them on where they want to go.
  • Working with an advisor who takes all the time needed.
  • Accessibility and availability.
  • Having various options, not just one solution.
  • Education.
  • An advisor who is proactive and flexible with their schedule.
  • Living life without stressing over their financial situation.
  • Making progress even in tumultuous times.
  • Being a good example for their children and not a burden.
  • Managing the competing demands of their business and personal finances.

Clients want to know they have something to look forward to and that their advisor will help make that happen. This is how you capture new opportunities. If you do this right, you will be in the best position to take care of clients who aren’t comfortable where they are right now. More importantly, you will solidify and assure your existing clients they made the right decision working with you.

Don’t Rely on Email

Mass emails do not send the right message. Too many advisors rely on email and it is not a means for surpassing competitors. Just because you can reach every client by email, doesn’t mean you should. You’ve got to call your clients and talk to them personally to see how they are feeling. Give them reassurance by demonstrating what you are doing on their behalf. Talk to them and keep them focused on their long-term objectives. Simulate dips in the market or what happens if they lose income during a crisis. Help them know there are ways they can be OK.

Surpassing Competitors

Surpassing competitors is about how you show up and carry yourself in good times and challenging times. Yes, it is about your expertise and performance, but not solely. It is about how you communicate and demonstrate the real value clients desire. Help your clients and prospective clients gain perspective so they know they have a better option. This is of utmost importance in the client experience and every member of your team is responsible for it. One negative experience can undo all the good things that came before it.

Too many financial advisors are getting this wrong and it is your chance to rise and surpass them in this tumultuous environment.

 

Image by Gerhard Gellinger from Pixabay

Tiffany MarkarianSurpassing Competitors in a Tumultuous Environment

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