In this series of articles, I will discuss the key components of a first client meeting and how you could approach it to achieve better outcomes for you, your prospects and your clients.
“Most people looking to move to lifestyle financial planning focus on their soft skills—their non-verbal communication, what kind of questions they ask clients, their listening skills and ability to build rapport.
However, I believe that the meeting is not the first step in the process. Unless you set the right expectations before a meeting, your communication skills won’t matter—none of what you’re saying will make sense to the client without the proper setup.
You have to be consistent and authentic, which means you need to find a way of working that resonates with your true self. Ask yourself: Who are you really? What is your purpose? What kind of values do you want to project to the world? Do you want to help people achieve what they want from life? Do you want to help people make as much money as they can? Or do you want to help with something different? And of course, why do you want to offer that service? Because you think it’s needed? Because you are good at it? Are you called to it? Some other reason?
This self-discovery exercise is essential to forming your service and articulating a message that you can be consistent with, and driven to provide.
Once you have that, all of your “messaging,” or communications should follow that path, across all channels, including your website, social media, email blasts, blogs, etc. If you want to be transactional, then all of your messaging should communicate that. If you want to do lifestyle planning, then you need to start thinking and communicating like a lifestyle planner each and every time.
Once you know what you want to provide, and understand why you are doing it, then you move onto the step of preparing potential clients to receive that value.
The importance of setting the right expectations
If you want your clients to be happy about a lifestyle service, you have to prepare them to expect that service. If they expect something different, they may be unhappy even if you offer the best service in the world.
You have to give people an idea of what to expect when they come to see you. If you want to be a lifestyle planner, but you don’t prepare clients to talk with you about their life, their aspirations, their hopes and fears, their children, etc. you are putting too much down to chance.
It’s your job to prepare them to see you as a lifestyle planner. You can’t expect to have a lifestyle meeting with someone if your website is full of language about investments, funds, life insurance, pensions and other solutions. A client reading that will expect to meet with you about financial products.
The best Chicken Tikka Dhansak is no consolation when you ordered a Lamb Rogan Josh.
Getting the right clients with the right expectations
Without setting expectations that are consistent with who you are, there is a strong possibility that you will bring the wrong people into the room. Or, perhaps even more damaging, you might bring in the right person with the wrong expectations, ruining your chances of turning them into a client.
The goal is to give you the best chance of getting the right clients for you and your business. We’re not trying to build a sales funnel to take on clients that don’t fit, or to shoehorn people into services they don’t want.
To avoid those problems, you’ve got to understand what service you want to provide and where the value is, and then support that vision with consistent communication.
One thing I do to set clients’ expectations properly before a meeting is send a letter confirming the meeting that says: Come along to my office, and we’ll have a discussion about things that are important to you, things you’re hoping to achieve in the future. This meeting will be at our cost and at the end of that meeting, we’ll have a good idea whether we think we should work together, and how much it’s going to cost you if we move forward. We don’t ask prospects to bring their financial information with them.
That letter does a few things. I’m setting the client’s expectations for the meeting by telling them what it will be, and what it will not be. Because I tell them not to bring their financial paperwork, they don’t expect to talk about investments in the meeting, which means they won’t be upset when I don’t talk about investments. They get a flavour of what we will be discussing, so they are prepared for the gist of the meeting, and hopefully, intrigued to go deeper. I assure them that there will be no cost for the meeting (so they don’t worry about cost), and that by the end of it, they’ll know how much it will cost if we work together (so they know that everything will be explained to them in the meeting).
After I’ve sent that email, it’s down to me to deliver. I can’t invite a prospect in for a meeting about their life and have them sit and watch a PowerPoint presentation about me and my company, and the services we offer. The meeting has to be ALL about them. Not us and not about their money.
The question I would ask is how much thought have you given to the image you project of yourself or your firm?
In the next article, I’ll continue the theme of messaging. We’ll then get into the detail of the actual meeting.
If you’d like to find out more about what we do, then follow the Academy on Twitter @fptrainingacad, check out our website at fptraining.academy, or listen to our podcast, financiallfecoach on ITunes”.