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6 Tips To WOW Your Clients Through Client Surveys

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Client surveys are a critical component of your overall business plan and should be incorporated into your marketing plan as well. Your surveys measure satisfaction or dissatisfaction in alignment with services you offer to your clients. Client surveys should be designed to determine vital needs of your clients and build and deepen personal relationships. The results of your survey will aide your firm in building invaluable loyalty and prompt existing clients to provide qualified referrals.

Firms that incorporate client surveys within their overall business and marketing plan, will  position themselves ahead of their competitors. However, it doesn’t stop there – you must be prepared to process the information you receive from your surveys and take action in order to have an impact on your overall strategy and incorporate excitement among your clients.

Benefits Of Client Surveys

Client Retention: A well planned client survey allows your firm to gather client feedback which can greatly improve client retention rates.

Performance Opinions:  Clients are your best judge of your products, services and performance.  Utilize your client survey to determine where areas of improvement are needed.

New Trends/Innovative Ideas: Gain knowledge through your client survey by taking advantage of suggestions to improve products or introduce a new one.

6 Must Do’s With A Client Survey

Increase Your Bottom Line: The sale doesn’t stop when your client signs the paperwork. Unfortunately, many firms don’t have a solid client communication process in place. Part of your system should include a survey once a prospect becomes a client. Demonstrate the importance of your survey to your clients by communicating how the survey enables you to better serve them. Incorporate surveys into your new client process to aide in your client retention strategy.

Don’t Focus On Numbers: Create the stage and allow your clients to tell a story. A survey with number rankings will not produce the information you need to toot your horn or make changes. When clients can illustrate what you and your team did well, you will want to replicate the process to be certain it becomes routine.

Develop Meaningful Questions: Craft your survey to encourage open-ended feedback by incorporating open-ended questions. Yes and no answers will not provide you with the comprehensive information you need. Dig diligently to find the questions you want answered and integrate ways for clients to refer to specific examples.

Be Ready For Change: Avoid taking the time and effort of creating and distributing client surveys without the intention of making changes or improvements. Assimilate surveys into your marketing plan to leverage opportunities to stand ahead of your competition. If clients are asking for more information regarding certain topics or say they never read your newsletter, be certain to take the suggestions to heart. Assign someone in your office or a team of people dedicated to collaborate and brainstorm for ways to implement survey responses. Announce changes through email blasts, social media and newsletters. This will create excitement amongst your clients, especially the ones that made the suggestion.

Test Different Survey Methods: Most clients will complete a survey as long as they know it is confidential; they don’t want you to know who is making comments. Avoid putting your clients in an awkward position by offering different survey methods that are also easily accessible. Some options include using a third party, email surveys, website feedback, or a free survey site such as SurveyMonkey. Many firms have reported significantly better results through a simple phone conversation with clients. Test the water to find what fits best for your clients and provides you with valuable information.

WOW Your Client: If you use a survey method where you can identify the client, create added value by sending a handwritten thank you note or calling them to say thanks. How many times have you been thanked for completing a survey? Thanking your clients will show you genuinely care about their input and build stronger relationships. This will earn you a WOW factor!

In Conclusion

Consider client surveys an empowering and enlightening tool essential to your business and marketing plan and incorporate comments into your strategic SWOT analysis. Keep surveys brief, if they are too long, no one will return them. In addition to offering your survey at the beginning of your relationship with a new client, implement a recurring survey strategy to capitalize on new market trends and opportunities. You may want to take a leap and survey prospects as well. A well managed survey process will reveal a client focused culture.

Join the conversation! Let us know how your firm uses client survey’s!

Ironstone is available to help your firm develop productive client surveys.

Contact us for more information!

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Does Your Niche Notice You?

Answering the question, “Does Your Niche Notice You?” may give you true insight to the effectiveness and impact of your marketing strategy.

Being all things to all people is impossible in personal lives and in your business life.   I suggest relying on the old 80/20 rule. The message of the 80/20 rule is that it reminds you to focus on the 20 percent that matters. 80% of your potential target market probably won’t buy from you.  Choosing a target or niche market is tough, but identifying the 20% who are most likely to become clients will give your firm a laser-like focus.  Without that focus, you expose yourself to presenting a message that is full of fluff to 80% of your market.

 Identifying Your Niche

Start identifying your niche with a narrow focus, but remain flexible to expand as new business is generated.  Define a high degree of specialization in order to differentiate your practice.   Avoid placing limitations on your firm and turning away business by defining your market too rigidly.

Choosing to specialize in a niche will allow you to:

  • Use your time more effectively
  • Provide better service to existing clients
  • Differentiate your firm

Navigating Your Niche

By placing focus on the niches you have identified, your ability to hone in on select groups and provide specialized service will open the door to more referrals. Existing clients and your strategic alliances will be more inclined to refer new clients in your direction.  Remind them of the ideal clients you are looking for.  Providing specific descriptions, such as “retirees between the ages of 55 and 70”, will make it easier for others to identify connections they have in a specific group.  When you simply ask for a referral without providing a descriptive landscape, it is hard for others to refer the ideal and compatible potential client. They may refer their next door neighbor who is in their mid 20’s, just starting a family…. It is your responsibility to steer your clients, alliances and COIs in the proper direction with a clear and concise description of the type of client you are looking for.

Get Your Niche To Notice You

Avoid aiming for an undecided percentage or portion of the already saturated broad market.  This will place your firm with every other financial advisor in your area and provide no means of differentiation.

By identifying a market position or niche, you will be on the path of instilling operational effectiveness, success and a clear vision for you and your firm. Your service and product offerings will be aligned with your niche, thus providing a solution to client’s unique needs.

When you identify and market to a niche, your firm is:

More likely to have an impact – strong positions in a target market provide your business with identity.

Able to stand apart from competitors – your firm is positioned to connect and engage in meaningful solutions to specific needs.

Positioned to grow organically – by providing laser-focus service, your clients will be marketing your firm for you.

There are a plethora of niches you can choose from.  Choose niches that you have a genuine passion for and reap the benefits of being viewed as an expert in your field. You need to work with clients you are comfortable with.

 “Please all and you please none.”   -Aesop, Greek Author

We are curious! Who are your niche markets? How is your firm benefiting from niche marketing? 

 Learn more about how Ironstone can impact the operational effectiveness of your firm!  Read more at www.ironstonehq.com

 Follow us as we explore each of Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™!

  • Strategic Planning
  • Business Development
  • Operational Effectiveness
  • The Human Element

Coming up next, Operational Effectiveness & Your Client Database

 

 

• Email us at info@ironstonehq.com
• Call our office at 800-917-8020
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Hit the Nail On the Head When Constructing Your Business Model

Constructing a business model should be a vital part of your firms overall business strategy; describing the core aspects of your firm, including services, purpose, organizational structure, operational processes/policies and your strategies.

As the financial services industry has evolved over the years, business models available to financial advisors have changed and expanded. You will want to make certain your business model:

  •  Remains as a solid foundation by revising and expanding the structures and systems
  •  Incorporates new services and resources available to create value for your clients

Without an updated business model, it will be challenging to move forward, reach goals and experience firm growth. Top advisors are seeking to change their existing business models from firm driven to client driven by providing a holistic model.  Advisors who have implemented the holistic business model are able to position themselves as a trusted advisor rather than a transaction-based sales person.

 Your business model should describe how your firm plans to generate revenue

 and profits while detailing the core aspects listed above.

 High net worth clients are searching for a trusted advisor that is able to provide multiple products and services under one roof.

Providing results for your clients should be a key factor when constructing your business model.  Clients are in search of an advisor who will:

  • Make smart decisions with their money
  • Assist in mitigating taxes
  • Take care of their heirs
  • Ensure gifts are charitable

In addition, advisors who provide some or all of the following services will stand far above the competition and can promote a proactive working relationship with at least a few of the following professionals:

  •  Tax Attorney
  • CPA
  • Insurance Agent
  • 401k Retirement Consultant
  • Estate Planning Attorney
  • Health Insurance Representative

When the overall financial plan is coordinated, you have added value for your clients. Your clients are able to:

  • Reduce their fees
  • Feel clearly organized
  • Place their trust in you and your firm

WHY BOTHER?

Ever heard the song, “The Wise Man Built His House Upon a Rock”? The lesson of this song is just as true in the business world as it is in construction. If you want to run an effective profitable practice, you need to build on a solid foundation and function within a framework that is based on your goals.

The words to that childhood tune also say that the foolish man built his house on sand—without a foundation—and when the storms come, the house crashes down. In the same way, a business without structure will likely crumble when faced with challenges.

Don’t be like the foolish man! By taking advantage of systems and

structures, you can lead your practice toward success.

 There is not a one-size-fits-all solution for every firm.  Ironstone works with highly successful firms operating with different business models.  Design your business model  considering your goals and objectives along with the structures, systems and elements that will serve as your foundation.

 Contact Ironstone for help in preparing your Business Model

We will provide you with a comprehensive plan in developing or updating your business model.  Choosing the best business model for your firm is not an easy task. We will assist you every step of the way by identifying any gaps in your existing model and providing focus on proper infrastructure, market positions, client product and service mix, value-add and how to put it all together!

 We are curious – what changes have you made to your business model recently?   What changes need to be made to your existing business model?  Let us know! 

 Follow us as we explore each of Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™!

  • Strategic Planning
  • Business Development
  • Operational Effectiveness
  • The Human Element

Coming up next, Niche Marketing!

 

• Email us at info@ironstonehq.com
• Call our office at 800-917-8020
• Connect with us:


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Treat Your Clients Fairly, But Not Equally—It’s OK!

In Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™, Operational Effectiveness, we take a challenging look into creating a service matrix that serves as your reference on how you will serve each client fairly, but not necessarily equally.  Developing the proper client segmentation is vital in creating, growing and evolving your firm and then applying that segmentation to a service matrix.    To make a service matrix effective, you must determine the type of services you offer and client contact frequency to promote clear communication to clients and prospects.

Determining the best way to align client services within your matrix

A service matrix should be based upon the characteristics of your firm, needs and goals of your firm’s processes combined with the uniqueness of each client and prospect.  Your clients are not created equal in terms of their needs and desires.  Your job is to determine the specific needs of groups within your client database, use the levers in your control to grow revenue and provide first-class service and sales effort.

You owe each client your best effort – not every service

In our blog, “Understanding Purposeful Meaning In Your Client Service Matrix,” https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/04/10/understanding-purposeful-meaning-in-your-client-service-matrix/ we outlined the principles inside a service matrix.

 
A client service matrix serves several purposes:
• Encourages clients and prospects to use your firm for all of their financial planning needs
• Clarifies what service levels each client can expect
• Aligns advisor time and resources
• Provides a way to thank your most loyal clients

A service matrix will allow your firm to deliver services to different client segments through the use of multiple channels and aide you in delivering outstanding service by defining what activities you will perform based on the profitability of each relationship.  Position your firm to use your service matrix as a central tool in servicing clients and to show differentiation from your competition.

Using your matrix as an external and internal tool for success

 A service matrix serves as an external and internal managerial tool.  Use your matrix internally to:

  • Determine if proper staffing is in place to provide desired results and services
  • Plan, develop and implement tactics for future growth
  • Schedule service items that will be provided to your clients/prospects
  • Generate reminders to all team members

Utilizing your matrix will ensure all services within the matrix are being provided and will allow you to support proactive client/prospect service and ensure you are delivering on the promises you made.

Employing a service matrix is a useful tool when you evaluate the strategic changes in your firm’s service operation.  By paying close attention to the challenges associated with each classification, overall firm performance will improve.

The end result, your firm will be more strategic, efficient and likely more profitable.

“In business, words are words, explanations are explanations, promises are promises,

 but only performance is reality.”   Harold Geneen

We are curious!!  Does your firm utilize a service matrix?  Tell us about it!

Follow us as we explore each of Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™!

  • Strategic Planning
  • Business Development
  • Operational Effectiveness
  • The Human Element

Coming up next, learn about the human element and hiring and onboarding!

Email us at info@ironstonehq.com
• Call our office at 800-917-8020

• Connect with us:


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Build It & They Will Come – Earning Referrals

Imagine your field of dreams overflowing with all of the referrals you could ever hope for!  Closing your eyes and picturing a huge field full of perfect referrals to help you grow your firm doesn’t have to be a dream, you can make it reality.

The old way of getting a referral is more than just old.   It’s now considered greedy, pushy and desperate.  Asking for referrals puts your clients in an uncomfortable position.  Building loyalty and trust with clients is paramount to ensure client retention.  Making clients feel uncomfortable by asking for a referral could jeopardize your relationship, thus causing more harm than good.

I have noticed that nothing I never said ever did me any harm.   ~Calvin Coolidge

Referrals are still the best and most profitable source for new client acquisition.  Learning how to earn referrals is the key to a successful referral plan. It is easy to ask for a referral, anyone can do it.   Elite advisors don’t ask, they earn.  Implementing a referral program at your firm should be a goal for every advisor.  Learning the correct way to implement and use your plan is vital to overall firm reputation, growth and profitability.

Putting your reputation on the line; why would anyone give you a referral?

When a client or strategic alliance partner provides a referral to your firm, their reputation is on the line.  To earn a referral, the referee needs to feel confident that you are trustworthy, knowledgeable and will provide a positive experience to a new prospect.  As an advisor, your primary focus must be on the client and the overall client service  you provide.  If you are “just in it for the money”, clients will eventually see through the bogus wall.

Steps to earn referrals;

Ironstone has compiled a list of the best practices you can use and apply to start earning referrals and stop asking for them. 

  • Become friends with your clientsMeet with clients socially at business networking events and other non-sales related events.
  • Provide incredible client serviceThis will instill a “no-fear” mindset in your client.  Clients will feel there is little risk in recommending your firm to a peer.
  • Pay It ForwardYou need to give to get!  Avoid making the mistake of expecting something in return.
  • Be availableMake it easy for clients and prospects to do business with anyone in your firm at all times.
  • Be patientKeep in mind that relationships take time to build, let them develop over time otherwise you come off as “needy”.
  • Provide educationUse newsletters, client meetings, email, websites and social media to keep your clients and prospects informed of current issues.

Client referrals start with the quality and depth of your client relationships.  You may choose to include asking for referrals in your overall strategy; however, once you have incorporated earning referrals in your strategic referral plan, provide first-class service and a memorable experience; referrals will fill your field of dreams.

We are curious!!  How do you earn referrals?  Do you ask or earn?

Follow us as we explore each of Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™!

  • Strategic Planning
  • Business Development
  • Operational Effectiveness
  • The Human Element

Coming up next, learn about operational effectiveness and your service matrix!

• Email us at info@ironstonehq.com
• Call our office at 800-917-8020
• Connect with us:


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Defining Client Value Beyond $ Signs

Segmentation is the first critical step toward greater efficiency and ultimately improved profitability. In our blog, “Take the First Step Towards Greater Efficiency With Client Segmentation,”  https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/03/27/take-the-first-step-towards-greater-efficiency-with-client-segmentation/ we provided you with basic steps and resources to segment your client database.

Start your segmentation process by defining client value.  Viewing each group with different needs and priorities will present you with the ability to serve each segment based upon their needs, not the firm’s profits.

Client segmentation is about improving customer service for all of your clients.  Use it to deliver solutions more effectively by streamlining and automating the services you offer.  Aligning the right level of advisor support to the client’s specific needs results in increased client satisfaction and in turn may even result in more client referrals.

Advancing Your Client Segmentation Plan

Client segmentation needs to be taken to a deeper lever in order to gain the full benefit.  Once your initial segmentation process is complete, you are ready to segment your client database further by distinguishing clients based on characteristics beyond the dollars.

Many advisors have not segmented their client database in a meaningful way beyond assets under management.  Assets under management will be your constant starting point for segmentation and predicting client needs.   Understanding that clients within the same segmentation class still have extraordinary needs and expectations will allow you to provide matched solutions with your product and service offerings.

Trying to provide the same high level of service to everyone can make it difficult to focus on the more complex clients and on the inevitable changes that come with growth and business development.  Ironstone can assist you in all phases of client segmentation and ultimately design a comprehensive client segmentation plan that will allow you the opportunity to hone in on specific and unique needs of clients within each segment.

Ironstone recommends  you place some of the following attributes in your segmentation plan beyond assets under management:

  • Revenue produced for the firm
  • Quality of your relationship with the client
  • Earnings potential
  • Client lifestyles & life events
  • Client demographics
  • Risk analysis/Behavioral attributes

Applying the above listed characteristics will provide another layer to your segmentation plan and aide in shaping optimal service for your clients.  You may not want to engage in each market base, but you can start with the characteristics that employ the biggest role in improving your firms’ bottom line.   By marketing to each subcategory you will accomplish more targeted messages and information that will resonate with your clients, resulting in engaged clients and prospects, higher response rates and a shorter conversion cycle.

Use this model to segment your clients by determining their level of revenue and the value of the business relationship.08.06.12 Segmentation Guide

Readers, we are curious!!  How do you approach segmentation in your firm?

Follow us as we explore each of Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™!

  • Strategic Planning
  • Business Development
  • Operational Effectiveness
  • The Human Element

You won’t want to miss our next in the series:  The Human Element-Job Descriptions

• Email us at info@ironstonehq.com
• Call our office at 800-917-8020
• Connect with us:


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Reducing Operational Costs Without Sacrificing Client Service

Living in today’s unpredictable business environment, one of the most frequently asked questions we receive is, “How can we cut our operating costs?” 

Streamlining business operations, while containing overhead costs, is the real secret to profitable growth.  Without coming to grips with reality, your firm will face the risk of severe loss.

Steps that you can take, starting today, to ameliorate issues and make your office more effective and efficient:

  • Establish a Budget –  Before you decide where you can afford to cut costs you must have control over your costs. A budget helps you both analyze expenses and income, as well as allows you to forecast financial variances.
  • Develop and implement systems for everything you do in your firm Implementing workflow processes increase efficiency which will in turn have a positive impact on your bottom line. Many firms tend to overlook their operational systems and workflows especially during a good economy.  Review your firm’s operational systems regularly recognize the static processes because “that is the way it’s always been done”, and be flexible to change.  This is imperative to reducing your operational costs and remaining viable amid the rising costs of operation.
  • Align the responsibilities of your staff members to their specific needs Review workflow for areas that need improvement or display a lack of clarity.  Making revisions in a workflow and ensuring that there are no duplicate efforts or wasted energy will prevent you from superfluous costs.  Besides cost savings, you benefit from significant increases in productivity.
  • Invest in more training –  It may sound ironic to invest more money while trying to reduce costs,  however, investing more in your employees shows them that they are valued.  There is an endless source of training models available online, which in-turn will also reduce your travel expenses.   Employees who feel valued, are more engaged and more productive at work.
  •  Build Strategic Alliances – In our blog “Strategic Alliances Build A Strong Foundation For Long Term Success”     https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/04/30/strategic-alliances-build-a-foundation-for-long-term-success/   we talked about how building strategic alliances positions your firm to stand apart from the competition.  Share expenses with your alliances by implementing joint advertising/media promotions, shared mailing lists and shared educational workshop expenses.  You will reduce your costs and improve your bottom line by meeting client needs.
  • Outsource  Review the organizational structure of your firm.   Pinpoint which roles could be outsourced, such as payroll or mailings.  Also consider contract employees.  Hire contract employees for special projects or ongoing tasks.  Outsourcing and utilizing contract employees will give you more time to focus on building your business.
  •  Reduce office expenses –  Consider converting to an electronic paperless system when possible and order supplies in bulk.  Shop around for lower prices and negotiate a better price if you agree to purchase all of your supplies from one vendor.  Reduce utility bills as much as possible, but not at the detriment of team effectiveness.

Reducing your operating costs without sacrificing the team’s operational effectiveness, the quality of service, and the value that you provide to your clients, will go a long way towards improving your bottom line.

Keep these principles in mind and implement them.  You’ll find that your reduced operating costs will lead you down the path to substantial growth before you realize it.

Ironstone can assist you in developing the strategies needed to reduce your operating costs while strengthening your relationships with existing and potential clients.  By being held accountable and responsible for the cost cutting steps above, you will gain control of your expenses and move towards a better bottom line.

Follow us as we explore each of Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™!

  • Strategic Planning
  • Business Development
  • Operational Effectiveness
  • The Human Element

You won’t want to miss our next in the series:  The Human Element-The Performance Evaluation