Virtually everyone claims it. Client-first. Customer-centric. Buyer-focused. In our work in the financial services industry, we see it every day in mission statements, brand promises, and value propositions. So why is it that most clients today generally distrust financial advisors and expect to be “sold something” any time they meet with one? Why do they tighten up when a banker refers them to an “investment specialist?” Why do so many affluent clients believe that banks are more focused on sales than on their needs? And why are so few clients actually advocates of their current firm?
Yes, the above are generalizations. But the fact is, the financial services industry is known for product-pushing. We all know it. Whether wanting to or not, we tend to succumb to the pressure to push product and drive customers to buy the way WE want to sell … primarily due to lack of confidence that there is a better way to meet our goals.
This simple piece is meant for those who truly DO want to deliver a buyer-centric sales experience and actually fulfill on their claim that they are client-focused. If you just want to continue to claim it but don’t really intend to do it, save time and stop here. If you want to give a little more thought to it and suspect that it CAN be done (and I assure you it can, no matter the size of your organization), read on. While I certainly cannot provide all the answers to this challenge in just a few hundred words, hopefully these points will give you just a little more clarity – and more importantly, confidence – that it can be done.
First, let’s define what we mean by client-focused. What client-focused is NOT is just being nice, doing what the client wants, and responding effectively to their needs and requests. These are simply good service traits that will better ensure a satisfactory client experience. But it falls well short of what we mean by client-focused and certainly does not maximize your sales potential.
Making the Commitment
Being truly and completely client-focused calls for the following four commitments throughout your organization:
- A commitment to knowing and understanding the clients you serve and the issues most relevant to them.
- A commitment to knowledge of the business and the solutions that will best serve your clients.
- A commitment to knowledge of your products and how/when they can best serve your clients.
- A commitment to training and preparation to deliver the best experience to your client (and fulfill on your promise to them).
So with those commitments in place helping to ensure that you are now prepared to be client-focused, what is the formula for execution?
- If not already done so, define your purpose – or promise – as it relates to your clients. What is it that you want to do for your clients? How are you helping or serving them? What kind of experience do you want to provide them? The core transformation comes here by defining how YOU will best serve THEM, versus how they might best provide revenue for you!
- Commit to that purpose and incorporate it into your daily focus, discussions, and actions. Set the expectation within the organization that this is our purpose and how we are going to serve our clients.
- Define the financial issues most relevant to your clients, according to the segment(s) you serve (i.e., mass affluent, HNW).
- Determine which of those issues you want to and are capable of solving.
- Develop (or confirm that you have) the products that will serve as solutions for those issues.
- Train your advisors on:
- The issues
- The solutions
- Your solutions
- Train (and coach) your advisors to develop the core competencies (“So What is a Competency?”) that will translate to great conversations with your customers and thereby lead to the fulfillment of your purpose/promise.
- And hardest of all, ensure the pure and consistent delivery of your purpose/promise. Consistently reward those who deliver and correct those who don’t.
This is the general roadmap for the true transformation to becoming client-centric. Is it simple to do? Yes. It almost sounds too simple, which is why many executive leaders often dismiss it. Is it easy? NO! But it can be done and we have helped others do it. Effective and consistent execution of this will lead to:
- A breakout in terms of sales results
- Serious enhancement of client loyalty and the relationship deepening that follows
- Increased referral activity both from clients and centers of influence who recognize and appreciate the experience you provide your clients
- Significantly increased job satisfaction and fulfillment within your sales force… bringing greater meaning and purpose to what they do every day.
For more specifics on how to transform your sales experience, contact Rick Swygman at 404.324.4600 or firstname.lastname@example.org.