The Elements Ironstone Blog

Current news and trending topics for sales and financial industry professionals


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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:


Leave a comment

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:


Leave a comment

Understanding Purposeful Meaning In Your Client Service Matrix

A service matrix is an established unique resource in the financial industry. It provides you with a comparative analysis of your service offerings and differentiates you from your competitors.

Creating a service matrix will help you identify the level of service your clients will receive when they work with your firm. By clearly defining and evaluating your services, you will have the ability to provide value to your clients and the level of service they desire. Build your service matrix to gain strategic insight into the unique needs of each of your client groups and continuously modify it as a part of your firms client engagement strategy.

A client service matrix serves several purposes:
• Encourages clients & 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

When creating or evaluating your client service matrix consider surveying your current clients to determine what services they would like. High net worth clients will be attracted to your firm as you provide more personal attention. Create a list of the services you currently provide and a separate list of the services that you would like to provide. Determine which clients will receive each of your services.

Two levers that you can control in your service matrix are service level and sales effort.
Service Level: determine the appropriate level of service to provide to the different levels in your client segmentation plan. (read our blog on Client Segmentation-insert link here)
Sales Effort: control the level of effort that you will put towards client retention, gaining referrals, adding new services and promoting new products by pursuing the right opportunities with aligned client segments. This will provide increased revenue for your firm.

In order to maximize on your services, focus on what you do best. Providing high-quality personal service to your clients and prospects is more important than providing many mediocre services.

As you create and evaluate your service matrix, assess each process in relation to attractiveness (is it what clients want?) and is it providing your client with value. Evaluate processes that can be eliminated and identify which processes align with your mission statement. Your services should have few competitive alternatives and your firm’s offerings should be very strong.

Your client service matrix will allow you to hone in on the unique needs of each of your clients. Understanding that each of your clients has unique needs will ensure efficient client service delivery.

“In business, words are words, explanations are explanations, promises are promises, but only performance is reality.” Harold Geneen

Ironstone can assist you in developing a client/prospect service matrix. 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.

Contact us for assistance in starting and improving your Service Matrix. We want to hear from you! Share your best ideas here! What services do you provide that are unique from your competitors? We always love hearing from you!

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-Hiring & Onboarding
• Email us at info@ironstonehq.com
• Call our office at 800-917-8020
• Follow us on twitter @ https://twitter.com/#!/AndreaSchlapia
• Join us on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/IronstoneCommunications
• Connect with us on LinkedIn @ http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=29647364&trk=tab_pro


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Learn How To Write A Prospecting Plan For Your Firm

To accomplish overall marketing goals, many advisor firms need to include a plan for prospecting that includes the strategies and tactics to reach their desired results.  In our blog, “Learn The Fundamentals Needed For Your Marketing Plan”   https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/03/22/learn-the-fundamentals-needed-for-your-marketing-plan/    we reviewed critical steps to include in your plan, which are the same for your prospecting plan.

How do successful firms prospect?  Top financial advisors have one common denominator– a financial advisor marketing and follow-up strategy.   A rule of thumb to remember when prospecting is:

40% is preparation, 20% is presentation, and 40% is follow-up

Ironstone suggests implementing the following seven strategies in your Prospecting Plan

1. Provide a Personal Touch – Focus on the value and benefits to your prospects and clients.  Clients want attention and care.  Make use of public seminars to deliver solutions to clients through the benefits you can offer them.  Include hand written notes on mailings to add a personal touch that prospects will notice and appreciate.

2. Communicate Your Unique Value Proposition (UVP) – Differentiate yourself from the competition.  Keep your name in front of prospects to retain and acquire new business.  Your newsletters are an easy way to provide information about your firm or explore the potential of getting published.

3. Choose a Niche Market – Identify the clients you want to serve, you can then find out everything you need to know to dominate that market.

4. Share Your Referrals with Reciprocal Referral Partners – One of the easiest methods for receiving highly qualified referrals is from reciprocal referral partners who serve the same niche market.

5. Maintain Consistent Frequency of Follow Up – It takes about 6 – 15 “touches” for someone to start working with you. Plan a strategy that will allow you this opportunity.   You might include phone calls, mailings, emails, and events as a part of your “touches” strategy and tactics plan.

6. Leverage Your Time – The most successful advisors automate and systematize as much of their financial advisor marketing strategy as possible. Social media and e-prospecting are useful tools to employ.

7. Increase your Retention & Relationship – It is critical that you include relationship building in your plan.  Networking is the best place to start.

Remember:

  • People buy from those they know and trust
  • Prospecting is not easy unless you focus on helping, not selling
  • People who trust you give referrals
  • Referrals take the burden of prospecting off the salesperson

Ironstone will help you implement a successful prospecting plan, identify gaps in your existing plan and collaborate with you developing a solution to achieve the results you are looking for.  We will work with you on creating detailed goals that go deeper than the surface and assist you in planning the strategies and tactics needed to reach your goals.

Contact us for assistance in starting and improving your prospecting plan.

We want to hear from you!    What strategies does your firm use for prospecting?  Share your best ideas here!  We always love hearing from you!

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-Service Matrix