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Current news and trending topics for sales and financial industry professionals


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Building TRUST through COMMUNICATION

Effective communication with your clients and team requires more than staff meetings and educational seminars.  In a survey conducted by the Spectrem Group*,  the #1 reason clients left their existing advisor was due to lack of trust.  Building trust requires that you develop a relationship with your clients and prospects.   By communicating and demonstrating trust you will-

  • Build Relationships
  • Acquire Clients
  • Strengthen Your Team
  • Achieve Firm Success

In our blog, Knowledge is Power, https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/04/27/knowledge-is-power/, we reviewed how effective communication contributes to the success in your firm and how to build an internal communication strategy.  Knowing that external communication is just as important to the success of your firm as internal communication, build your practice by applying these communication skills to instill trust with your clients and prospects-

 Develop a relationship:  Get to know your client or prospect.  Learn as much as you can about them.  Are they working or retired?  If retired, where did they work?  What are their hobbies?  Ask about their family and community organizations they may belong to.  Show a genuine interest in knowing who they are. 

 Practice listening:  Listen, listen and listen.  Listening is a vital component to establishing trust and an effective communication dialogue.  By staying focused on what is being communicated, you show that you are engaged in assisting your clients and prospects.   Don’t start developing opinions and compiling your answer before your client or prospect is finished speaking; rather, focus on everything being said.  By applying this tactic, you will comprehend and retain 75% more of the information you hear.

Express empathy:  Tell your client or prospect that you understand their concerns.  Let them know their success is the #1 most important factor in your relationship. 

 Use Proper Timing:  Don’t rush to sell your products and services before you have earned trust.  Trust forms the foundation for effective communication.  Once you have earned trust, you are then in a position to discuss solutions to meet your clients and prospects needs.

By becoming a trusted advisor, you are now in a position to engage in open, honest and detailed communication.  Communicate details of your firm’s vision, mission and investment process.

  1. Be clear and concise
  2. Explain how your firm differs from your competitors
  3. Review with your clients and prospects exactly what they can expect from your firm
  4. Develop a process to ensure omissions are avoided
  5. Be pro-active by asking and encouraging questions

Remember, any areas of communication that are not understood can present serious challenges to the level of trust that you have worked to build.  Last, but not least, frequent communication with clients is essential to retain a solid trusting relationship.

To be a successful advisor and grow your firm, don’t sell your products  until you have sold your trust.

“Effective communication is 20% what you know and 80% how you feel about what you know.”

~Jim Rohn~

We are curious!!  Do you practice communication techniques at your firm?  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, learn about Strategic Planning and Succession Planning

*The Spectrem Group is a consulting firm specializing in the affluent and retirement markets.

• Email us at info@ironstonehq.com

• Call our office at 800-917-8020

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Think Client Workflows Are Corny? Think Again…….

Growing up on an Iowa farm was one of life’s greatest pleasures. One of my fondest memories was the gathering of relatives when it was time to freeze corn.  Nothing tasted better in the harsh cold winters than fresh farm corn; but the preparation of freezing corn consisted of a workflow detailing responsibilities each family member had to complete during the process.

The objective of Ironstone’s Fundamental4™ –Operational Effectiveness and the New Client Workflow, serve as the foundation of your unique process to solve problems, manage interaction, automate tasks and provide consistency for positive and repeatable impact to the client experience.  The same was true when we would gather for our annual corn freezing day.

In our blog, Workflows & How They Enable Execution Of Your Business Strategy,https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/04/24/workflows-how-they-enable-execution-of-your-business-strategy/,   we reviewed two primary objectives of a client workflow system; improved efficiency and profitability.  The new client workflow will provide the mechanisms needed for all team members to work together seamlessly providing a high level of client service.

The absence of any workflow model in a firm is a primary culprit for office inefficiency

Each advisory firm will have a unique process that works to the advantage of its clients, team members and the firm. Create a checklist for each of these fundamentals to allow your client workflow to take the repetitive activities and routines out of your brain and let it rise above to focus on more difficult tasks.  Download our guide for Creating Checklists:   How To Create Checklists

Review the foundation and objectives of your new client workflow, ensuring that each component is aligned to achieve goals of your firm;

  • Solve problems:  Problems are easily identified when using a client workflow system.  The system provides you the ability to assess exactly where a client falls in the process, allowing you to identify any problem areas and address them accordingly in a timely and efficient manner.
  • Manage interaction:  Client relationship management is easily managed at any given point and time.  By implementing a new client workflow you are able to identify the progress of each step being taken to ensure superior client service.  The process gives you the opportunity to communicate information and answer questions that may arise from your client.
  • Automate tasks:  Tasks will be automated with a client workflow process allowing each team member to hone in on their specific duties.  By automating tasks, you will increase efficiency and productivity within your firm.  With documented procedures in place, task productivity is available for tracking during the process.
  • Provide consistency for positive and repeatable impact to the client experience:  Each  process within your client workflow system is inter-related. Workflow systems will benefit your firm by enabling you to continually provide excellent client service, concentrate on your areas of strength, build accountability for your practice, enable you to deliver more comprehensive services, assist in managing regulatory and compliance related issues and add value to your firm for re-sale purposes.

Ironstone can assist you in developing a comprehensive new client workflow. We specialize in identifying gaps in your existing plan and will collaborate with you to develop solutions that are parallel in achieving the results you desire.

A workflow system should always be a work in progress. Your practice will evolve and grow; and your firm will encounter regulation, compliance and industry change. Accordingly your workflow process should continue to evolve and be updated.

We are curious!!  Does your firm use client workflows?  Which part of your client workflow reaps the most benefits?  Which part of the workflow needs to be improved?  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, learn about the Human Element and Communication

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


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CAB Please!

With investor skepticism, market volatility and financial planners trying to differentiate themselves from competition, many advisors have plunged forward into creating client advisory boards.

What better way to find out what clients and prospects need from you than by asking your best clients.  Not only will you have the capability to position yourself to provide solutions to the most sought after needs of clients, the likelihood of client retention will increase as well.

It is easy to stray away from developing a client advisory board because of the work involved.   The payoff will out-weigh the work by helping you understand new expectations of the investor:

  • Communication frequency
  • New investment strategies
  • New product development
  • Education requirements
  • Expectations of investment managers

Engaging with a client advisory board will also prepare you and your firm for new changes and expectations that will continue to develop.

 We outlined eight steps to creating your advisory board in our blog, Create A Powerful Asset With An Advisory Board, https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/05/03/create-a-powerful-asset-with-an-advisory-board/.  These steps are your starting point in creating a group of mentors to provide advice, objective feedback and ideas to elevate the level of service you provide for your clients.

Populated by the right mix of clients, your client advisory board will help you stay connected, build trust and create a competitive advantage over other firms.

Client advisory boards will also improve internal operations by:

  • Gaining new perspectives and ideas
  • Improve operating procedures; staff meetings, client workflows and team productivity
  • Improving  marketing, business development and long-term plans
  • Increase personal and business networks resulting in possible referrals for your firm
  • Increasing the value of your firm

Ironstone will evaluate your existing CAB plan and strategize with you to gain optimal benefits.  If you haven’t implemented a client advocate program, we will collaborate with you to develop a first-class plan.  We specialize in identifying gaps in your existing plan and will collaborate with you to develop solutions that are parallel in achieving the results your desire.

            The most pathetic person in the world is the one who has sight but has no vision- Helen Keller

 We are curious!!  Does your firm have an advisory board?  How has your CAB enhanced your firm and clients  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, learn about Operational Effectiveness and New Client Workflow

• Email us at info@ironstonehq.com

• Call our office at 800-917-8020

• Connect with us:


Leave a comment

Existing Client Workflow – Don’t Just Manage Your Client Experience, Enhance it!

You Must Keep One Thing In The Front Of Your Mind,

“Relationship Building Is A Process”

In our blog about New Client Workflows (https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/04/24/workflows-how-they-enable-execution-of-your-business-strategy/), we explore the details that you need to consider while building the strategies to acquire and interact with new clients.  Existing clients need just as much time and attention in order to remain clients.

In general, a client experience is the knowledge and understanding that clients gain as a result of their interaction with your employees, brand, web site, customer applications, office space, point of sale, or any other touch points.  The following factors are the essential ways in which you have control over how good or how great your client experience is:

  1. Define Your Client Experience: This is a series of decisions about which services to automate, which to drive manually, when to schedule reviews, when to prompt client interactions or service reminders, and what information to store.  Establish processes unique to each channel since an in-person experience will differ considerably from an online experience.
  2. Collect Client Details: The ability to effectively extract relevant details about clients is one of the most potent advantages one can have during the sales process.  Our recent blog about Client Management Databases (https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/05/08/client-management-databases-use-them-to-your-full-advantage/) describes what information to capture in your CRM.  However, consider going beyond the norm.  Collect information that may be considered trivial or irrelevant (for instance, travel preferences) and use your CRM to process this data and recognize patterns in order to help develop personalized offers.  When meeting with clients and prospects, learn as much as possible through a truly meaningful interview by engaging in conversation that will not only strengthen and enhance your relationship, but allow you to find out how your practice can improve their experience.  Some topics to ask questions about, are:

 

  • Family and Relationships – issues with family members that may impact planning?
  • Lifestyle and Hobbies – What are you most passionate about?  In what ways do you participate?
  • Value and Concern -How do you define quality of life?
  • Career – Are you currently working?  How long do you plan to work?
  • Business Ownership – Describe how selling or retiring from your business will affect you.
  • Assets – What is your strategy for saving or setting aside money to invest?
  • Legacy – What causes/organizations/charities, etc. are you and your family passionate about?
  • Developing a Team – What are your best and worst experiences with an investment advisor or financial planner?
  • Service Expectations – What can our firm do in order to provide you with the ultimate client experience to gain your trust and loyalty?

 

  1. Narrow Your Client Focus: A well planned questionnaire to collect information will help you identify which target market your client/prospect should be cited in for future campaigns.  This will help you create your ideal customer profile and essentially your niche target market, as well as provide the structure you need to define your client segments and service matrix.
  2. Engage Your Team Members:  It is critical that all levels of the team are involved in this process in order to promote clarity and consistency.  Ask your team if they understand what is expected of them.  Review and refine all tasks in order to communicate transparent expectations that can be attained.  Beware of heavy restrictions and rules that might hinder the ability to create positive client outcomes.  Define specific innovation objectives and rewards for improving the customer experience. This will inspire an unrelenting commitment to exceeding client expectations.
  3. Engage Your Clients: Customer engagement materializes in a conversation that leads to a greater level of interest from both parties.  Be the voice of your client and ensure that you are addressing their emotional needs better than your competitor can.  Know your client’s alternatives to make sure you can deliver on the promise of being better.  This leads to the voluntary involvement of the client rather than a sale on the premise of desperation and lack of alternative options. Once you’ve engaged customers with personalized offers, it’s time to entice them.  This means the perfect combination of essential value, amenable feelings, and perfect timing.  Practice showing genuine interest through key points that you have learned, in order to show that you have a valued interest in your client beyond the transaction.  By adding a personal touch to your client conversations now and in the future, you are most likely to make your clients feel important and special.
  4. Measure Your Client Experience: The measurement stage is essential to any process.  It provides new insights on how to improve and provides empowerment as a result of the successes that are revealed. A good evaluation system is first and foremost regular.  It encourages internal feedback as well as elicits feedback from clients to ensure consistency.  It may even be beneficial to test a process with trusted clients before the official launch date.  Collect feedback through surveys, focus groups, visual tracking aids, and offer incentives for volunteering opinions.

Workflows ensure consistency and the delivery of promised value.  The practice can rest, assured that things aren’t falling through the cracks and there are no missed opportunities.  In essence, workflows aid in creating exceptional client experiences, which results in client retention and ultimately client referrals.  While clients can’t always tell you what will exceed their expectations, they notice it when it happens and they tell others about it.

Ironstone can assist you in developing the strategies and tactical questions to gain meaningful insights that will strengthen client relationships and assist you throughout the process.  By seizing control over the factors above, you will move from a buyer/seller relationship to sharing common interests with your clients and prospects.

Contact us for assistance in starting and improving your Existing Client Workflow.  We want to hear from you!   Share your best ideas here!

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

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

 

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