As a life insurance adviser of 35 years, I walk a fine line between education and salesmanship – and do so around a highly sensitive topic.
Because of this ‘fine line’, professional advisors (myself included) often neglect to proactively educate our clients. It can be difficult to tell a client they may have a problem in the future and to do so without ‘selling’ to them.
Yet, we are obligated to fill the gaps in their knowledge – particularly if it’s an area they don’t have the time or expertise to effectively navigate. And especially if it’s an area that is presenting a potential risk to their business or personal circumstances.
This article offers an incredibly simple solution to properly educate your clients, without having to worry that it may appear to be ‘selling’,
Hindsight is 20/20
Many years ago I talked to a partner at a growing architecture firm, we’ll call him John, whose co-partner had suddenly passed away.
The partner’s wife had inherited a 50% share of the practice, yet hadn’t been previously involved in the business nor wanted involvement now. John couldn’t afford to buy her out or borrow money as the financial viability of his practice was perceived to be ‘compromised’.
In recognising this, she started investigating the sale of her share to another practice – quite reasonably so. For John, not only had he lost a business partner, but everything they had worked for was imploding.
When I bought up buy-sell agreements, he told me I was the first professional to identify the need and offer a solution – however unfortunately too late. John, like most other business people, had been focused on servicing his clients and handling the day-to-day activities of their successful practice. What became clear from this conversation was that many business people still lack knowledge surrounding buy-sell agreements, or are completely unaware of their existence.
Had I or one of his other professional advisors raised this topic and educated John, he would have been fully aware of the risk to his business and hopefully could have protected himself, his business partner and their families. Instead, the future of his business was now in question.
From this day forward, I developed an incredibly simple method to effectively educate my clients (and inadvertently developed a powerful client-retention plan).
Diarising business ‘check-ins’
If you try to meet a client with little to no warning, it’s going to appear like you’re trying to sell something – even if your intentions are pure.
Instead, I’ve found the best solution is to set up regular meetings. ’Business check-ins’, if you will. This approach adds value to existing clients and assures them you’re interested in keeping abreast of their circumstances – not just adding to your business revenue in an attempt to speed up a slow quarter.
Diarising check-in meetings (at no cost), is a great strategy to implement across your firm – particularly for larger clients. Done well, they reinforce the value you deliver and serve to strengthen client relationships, which in turn reduces the risk of losing clients to your competitors.
Start with a client you know well and make your intentions completely transparent: you want to set up regular meetings to check in on their business and educate them on any recent developments or innovations in their industry. The regularity of these meetings and the areas you explore with them will entirely depend on your area of expertise.
There’s no wrong answer, so get started on a firm wide approach to educating and guiding existing clients in a proactive and genuine manner.
To learn more about Les Miller, click here.