Be an Educator – Clients Need Information Now!
Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.
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It is tough right now to gauge client’s reactions. One call I made last week was answered by a client in tears because her father had just passed from COVID-19. She was unable to speak with me. In another case, a client’s wife was a doctor and was waiting for a test to find out if she was negative for the virus.
I know I need to be reaching out and contacting clients. But I feel like a sleazy salesperson calling them when I’m not sure whether, or how, the current situation is affecting them. I know what is happening with their portfolio, but I don’t know their personal experiences. After making just those calls, I found myself unable to pick up the phone for the rest of the week.
I have been receiving calls from clients. But none of my clients are really worried. I’ve been doing this a long, long time and a good percentage of them were with me through 2008 and they have done quite well. There isn’t the same level of anxiety in my client base, so I don’t know if making these calls is useful.
Am I being unreasonable?
Why would you consider your natural and human reaction “unreasonable”? Maybe you feel ill-equip to deal with the surprise of calling someone you know and who knows you and learning they are dealing with devastating news. You might feel unprepared and unable to cope effectively.
But I wouldn’t call it unreasonable!
What is unreasonable is thinking your desire to check-in on your clients and call them to see what’s happening makes you a sleazy salesperson! Unless you are calling to ask for introductions to their friends, referrals for additional share of wallet and to find ways to generally expand your own AUM by making the call, I don’t see the salesy aspect of this.
Just this week I was doing a coaching call with a client of mine. He focuses his practice on utilizing insurance and related products. He was telling me about how many of the products he often recommends are actually helping his clients as a cushion in their portfolio. However, he was hesitant to point this out to his clients because he didn’t want to be salesy! I hear this so often from advisors of all shapes and sizes and it is eternally frustrating to me because being an educator, sharing knowledge and helping clients understand their choices and the impact of those choices on their portfolio is very positive!
I share the story of this insurance-focused advisor not to suggest you add these products to your lineup, but to show that the desire to reach out, contact people and share how you can help them is common across our industry.
Consider all of the conflicting news about what is happening. Depending on what source you read, you learn new and different things each day. Isn’t this the same with financial and investment information? You have an opportunity to be an educator and to help people learn and navigate through what’s happening.
Here are some steps I shared with my client this week that might help you change your view and become more confident about communicating your ideas and insights:
- Change your impression from “salesy” to educator. You have knowledge people need. You likely care a lot about helping them. You want them to make good decisions. You want them to believe they are cared for and in good hands – they won’t be able to do any of this unless you let them know. Calling to hear someone’s bad news is still caring. Those clients will remember you reached out to them and cared enough to inquire about how they were doing.
- If you have insight and information – share it broadly. To another advisor I suggested creating a tiered list of clients: those who might be the most concerned or most impacted, those you haven’t heard anything from, and those who could benefit from making some changes right now or doing things differently. I would not suggest tiering by AUM or by fee, but rather by relationship and need of the client.
- Once tiered, send out personal emails to each of these people inquiring about how they are doing and offering a short bullet-point list of ideas or things to consider. Let them know you are going to be calling them the following week and ask if there is a particular time that would be good for them. This approach could help obviate the problem of catching someone when they don’t really want to talk.
- If you have insights, use social media to post them and create a conversation. If you are active on LinkedIn, send personal messages to COIs and clients and let them know about your ideas and give them a tip or two they might be able to use. Again, do this in the vein of education not asking them for something.
- Provide a webinar or dial-in conference call and offer it to clients or COIs to discuss some of the newsworthy items and how they might be utilized in one’s financial plan or portfolio. Allow people to submit questions in advance and answer those questions “live” while offering the webinar/call.
These are all reasonably easy things you can do to think strategically about how to raise your profile and show clients and COIs you are knowledgeable and can be helpful and also to avoid any personal concern you might have about intruding on someone’s life. You provide a very useful service, you have important information to share and people need to hear about what you know. Sharing now is one of the most caring and kindest things you can do. Reframe your attitude about it and get your knowledge into the marketplace.
Beverly Flaxington co-founded The Collaborative, a consulting firm devoted to business building for the financial services industry in 1995. The firm also founded and manages the Advisors Sales Academy. She is currently an adjunct professor at Suffolk University teaching undergraduate and graduate students Entrepreneurship and Leading Teams. Beverly is a Certified Professional Behavioral Analyst (CPBA) and Certified Professional Values Analyst (CPVA).
She has spent over 25 years in the investment industry and has been featured in Selling Power Magazine and quoted in hundreds of media outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, MSNBC.com, Investment News and Solutions Magazine for the FPA. She speaks frequently at investment industry conferences and is a speaker for the CFA Institute.