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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:


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Mountain or Molehill? How Do You Build Your Strategic Alliances?

Building and maintaining strategic alliance’s does not need to be viewed as a mountain that can’t be climbed Choose to climb the molehill instead and you will put the process of strategic alliance planning into proper perspective.  This is not to say that developing and reviewing your plan won’t take a lot of hard work and preparation; all relationships do.   Building your strategic alliances and/or partners is the same.

We have found that most advisors have not taken the time to invest in building strategic alliances, much less start to develop a plan.  Yet, those that build alliances generate higher revenues and profits.   It only takes a small number of strategic partners to have a positive impact within your firm.  

In our blog, Strategic Alliances Build A Foundation For Long-Term Success, https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/04/30/strategic-alliances-build-a-foundation-for-long-term-success/, we reviewed the steps you should include when developing your Strategic Alliance Plan.

Don’t make your strategic alliance plan a mountain; it only needs to be a molehill

Many advisors avoid the process of creating strategic alliances because it appears to be an overwhelming project with diminutive benefits.  Reality is, by creating strategic alliances you will position your firm to bring value to your clients and your business.  Start and keep your plan small and simple.  Focus on:

  • One or two relationships
  • Create mutual benefits for each organization
  • Align your vision and mission with the partners you choose
  • Mutually commit to specific actions and review, review, review
  • Establish a trial period
  • Define key and measurable metrics
  • Have an exit strategy

Recognize the importance your entire team can play in developing your strategic alliance plan and contribute to relationships that can be established.   You don’t need to take the entire project on yourself.  Delegate pieces of your plan and commit to regular meetings to discuss progress, challenges and overcoming objections.

Ironstone has found that the key factor in a strategic alliance plan is to follow up on metrics and expectations that you and your partners have agreed upon.  Lack of follow up leads to non- productive and one-way relationships.  If you find you are in a one-way relationship, you need to leave and create a new one.

We are curious!!  Does your firm have strategic alliances?  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 Business Development and Your Firm’s Advisory Board

• 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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Mistakes In Your Capabilities Presentation? Avoid These!

As we continue our series in Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™, we explore the common mistakes made in capabilities presentations whereas our last blog showed you how to build one –  https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/03/08/a-capabilities-presentation-a-vital-piece-in-selling-your-firm-learn-how-to-create-your-story-and-what-to-include/

The most vital component of your capabilities presentation is knowing when to share it.  Before prospective clients hire you, they want to know:

  • What you can do for them
  • How qualified you are to do it
  • How you will solve their concerns

 

Amongst many mistakes, the most common is taking the lead and jumping in front of prospects only to give them a detailed list of services offered by your firm.

Establish a process that will build a solid foundation with prospective clients.  List the steps that you currently take when holding a first time meeting, review them, and update them to avoid the mistakes and include the components described in this blog.

The Four Components That Must Happen Before You Present Your Capabilities Presentation

 

  • Ask Questions – Your first step is to understand what your clients and prospects need. A capabilities presentation without understanding needs is like a fish out of water.   You will find yourself flopping around, looking and begging for water.
  • ListenYou can only truly understand their needs if you have given them the floor to speak – free of sales pitches and interruptions.  In addition to giving them the chance to explain their wants and needs you must pay attention.
  • Build trustShow that you care for the interests of others before your own gain.  Conduct all dealings with clients and prospects with honesty, strength, and your highest ability.  Trust cultivates an environment for people to entrust you with their vulnerabilities and allows them to reach out and accept your help.  References and client testimonials are two tangible and quick ways to start building trust.
  • Show Understanding – Incorporate their concerns in all your communication back to them.  This includes your face-to-face feedback, your follow-ups, and ultimately your capabilities presentation.

 

Once you have established a solid foundation to build on, you are ready to incorporate your Capabilities Presentation.  Focus on providing highly effective communication and tailoring a wealth management approach that will fulfill needs and become a solution for your clients and prospects.  By redirecting your efforts to where they should be (towards the client and prospect) you will be creating opportunities rather than waiting idly for decisions.

Some Common Mistakes to Avoid During Your Capabilities Presentation:

 

  • Not doing your homework on room set-up, attendees, timing, expectations, agenda
  • Not understanding the client’s challenge or criteria for selecting a wealth manager
  • Lack of synergy in presentation – too many authors
  • Not rehearsing
  • Arriving late
  • Reading your presentation
  • Connecting with the wrong client
  • Spending too much time on staging the room and not enough on the presentation
  • Pointing fingers at the “Big Guys”
  • Disengaged team during the presentation – checking email, yawning, writing notes to each other
  • Interrupting
  • Multiple answers to prospect questions
  • Not finishing on time

 

In new business, you only get one chance to make a GREAT impression.

Your capabilities presentation will ensure that you, your team, and prospective clients know exactly what you do and how you can become a solution to their needs.  New business will come your way, by following the guidelines that Ironstone has established.   Knowing when to present your capabilities presentation will give you a leading edge over your competitors.

Ironstone can assist you in developing the strategies and tactical questions you need when meeting with a new prospect for the first time and provide agendas and follow-up checklists to ensure vital pieces aren’t falling through the cracks.

Contact us for assistance in starting and improving your Capabilities Presentation.  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

You won’t want to miss our next in the series:  Operational Effectiveness-Time Management