Let us begin this article by acknowledging we are running our business during a pandemic and it has gone on far longer than expected. Advisors and financial professionals are using every means possible to stay connected with clients and that is a good thing. The one thing we cannot forget during a pandemic; however, is we are still responsible for delivering an exceptional client experience. So how do we conduct virtual client meetings during COVID-19?
Maintaining your client experience during a pandemic requires more than simply switching from in-person meetings to online meetings. It requires advisors to step up the gas on addressing the larger emotional needs and anxieties clients are feeling.
The Main Goal
Clients define an advisor’s value not just in terms of financial performance. They define value in terms of the advisor’s ability to help them navigate fears, uncertainties, anxiety, and emotional stress. During virtual client meetings, too many advisors focus on what I like to call the “Ps” during online meetings. They focus on their Processes, Products, Planning systems, Performance, Portfolio Management, or Professional bio. If clients define an advisor’s value in emotional terms, then the main goal during online meetings is get the client or prospect to emote.
The Right Practices for Online and Virtual Client Meetings
When you engage a client or prospect during an online meeting, before you review your agenda, ask a few key questions upfront that will get the client to emote. It lets the client know you care about their well-being.
STEP ONE: Ask the Right Opening Questions
- Ask the client, “How are you keeping your sanity through all this.” OR “What are you doing to stay sane through all of this.”
This is important because the client will share how they are creatively passing their time or what concerns are keeping them up at night. They may share what hobbies they have picked up or what they are doing in their business to keep things stable. It is a far better opening question than the customary, “How’s it going?” Which is a non-starter. You will learn more about the client’s personal state of mind.
Prospects and clients spend their time taking care of everyone else – whether homeschooling, worrying about aging parents’, taking care of employees, worrying about their family’s health, etc. You want to be the person who is there for them by providing an open and safe place where they can talk about things that are uncomfortable.
STEP TWO: Demonstrate What You are Doing on the Client’s Behalf
During an online meeting, it is an opportunity to review the performance of your client’s accounts and provide your perspective. While these are helpful, you also need to make sure you are specifically stating what you are doing on the client’s behalf behind the scenes. Always remember, the client or prospect engages with you for a reason. They share their goals and objectives with you. Focus on these goals and objectives and how you are positioning every financial move to support these objectives for the long-term. Prospects and clients want to know they will be okay and that you are there working on their behalf.
Objectives are emotional. If you can restate a client’s objectives back to them, it gets them off their current stress and lets them know they are in the right place with you. It gives them a great sense of comfort.