Who’s the best client for you?
The very first skill you have to get to grips with as a new advisory business is finding new clients. That helps you to survive for a while, but somewhere on your journey you need to be able to influence the type of clients that you attract and service.
There are a couple of reasons for this:
1. Boost productivity – Improving client quality is the best way to improve your productivity; bigger clients generally pay bigger fees. And whilst the workload does increase as clients get larger, it doesn’t always increase at the same rate as the fee which gives you some arbitrage and extra profitability. The reason for that is the value you can add to larger clients tends to rise faster than the fee increase, making the extra fees good value for most clients.
2. Keep your client lists full – Being realistic, your older clients will eventually enter drawdown mode or pass away. This will leave you in a situation where you need to find new clients to replace those declining or lost fees.
Bringing in the best clients
In my experience, firms that do well on improving their client profile have one of three ways of doing it:
a) The owner is a natural rainmaker and has always had the ability to find new clients (via a mix of networking, professional connection referrals, and client referrals).
b) They’ve learned some marketing skills that allow them to generate a fresh flow of leads (often using social media, content marketing and seminars).
c) They’ve purchased client banks from other advisers.
Here are some specific ideas you might like to consider from a blog I did earlier this year called Marketing Matters: How To Get More Leads.
Essentials for improvement
Here are what I think are the central themes in getting stronger at creating an ever-improving client profile:
The first is creating a strong point of difference in your business positioning.
Put yourself in the client’s shoes for a minute. Go onto Unbiased, enter your postcode, and take a look at the advisory firms that come up. In the first instance read the blurbs on the Unbiased front page. But then check out each firm’s website.
This is worth five minutes of your time.
If you can find a firm that really stands out and grabs you by the throat (in a figurative, marketing sense that is) I’ll be astounded.
Can you see how difficult this makes life for prospective clients trying to choose a firm?
Most advisory firms look just like the next one.
If that’s the case, one of the quickest wins you could make would be to address that and to differentiate yourself strongly.
In marketing terms, “It’s better to be different, than it is to be better.” Yet most advisers spend all of their waking hours trying to be better; doing more exams, attending conferences on technical issues etc.
To be truly differentiated and looking great will require some investment in professional help. Spend the money and get the help. It’s worth it.
Focus on referrals
Every adviser says that client referral is their most favoured source of business. Yet most advisers can’t even tell you how many referrals they get each week. That’s because they don’t get referrals each week, they’re scattered randomly across the year and you can count them on one hand. Sorry to be so blunt, but that’s the truth.
However, for me the whole referral thing starts with creating an amazing client experience.
Kevin Deamer at KMD Private Wealth Management is a great example. He’s worked tirelessly on creating a client-focused, interesting, named and branded client experience. If you ever get the chance to see him present at an industry event on how he does things then take it.
Throughout your interaction with clients (new and existing) there are a series of touchpoints, or moments of truth, where you can make an amazing impression or sort of just do it like everyone else. It’s worth spending time to identify how you could make each and every touchpoint memorable.
These are the things that are referable, not just doing a professional job. Unfortunately, doing the right thing technically is just table stakes to the game.
The beauty of creating your own content is that it truly reflects who you are and what you believe in.
If I asked ten advisers to write a piece on retirement planning they’d all be different. How is that possible? Surely retirement planning is retirement planning.
All the articles would be different, reflecting each adviser’s views on what matters most or their experiences over the life of their careers.
More importantly, if we then put all ten articles in front of 10,000 potential clients seeking some retirement planning advice, we’d surely get groups of clients choosing different articles as the one they connected most strongly with. Each adviser would generate some work as clients contacted those they identified with.
Generating and publishing your own content is a great way to build profile and to build a list of warm leads that connect with you in some way. All you then have to do is continue finding ways to provide value to your list until they’re ready to do business.
Your starting list should be your existing client base. All of whom know 200 people just like themselves.
It sounds simple enough, but as you know there’s a ton of work in doing content marketing well and consistently. However, for mature businesses that are trying to move from dependence on the owner/rainmaker to a more systemised method of lead generation, this is surely a foundation stone.
Improving your client profile is one of the six areas you need to master if you really want to move forward in your business. Maybe it’s time to review your skills in this area and see if you can take a step up to the next level.
Just in case you missed them, you can catch the first three articles in my Moving Forward series here: Part 1 on Culture and Values, Part 2 on People, Part 3 on Process, and Part 4 on Business Management.
There are six areas that you need to master if you want your business to really move forward:
Client Profile checklist
Give yourself a score out of ten for each of the following statements. The higher your total score the closer you’ll be to the perfect client profile for growing your business:
2. All team members know what acceptable minimum standards are for new clients and enforce those standards
3. There are effective marketing and lead generation processes operating within the business and lead flow is always strong
4. There is at least one rainmaker within the firm who is prolific at lead generation, OR there is a systemised marketing process that guarantees enough lead flow of the right quality
5. All advisers and key staff are trained in how to identify and cultivate new prospective clients for the business
6. Stories are shared with the team regularly (at least monthly) of the amazing work the business has done for a client
7. There are strategies in place to grease the wheels of client referral (e.g. client events, content marketing)
8. We only work with clients we love
9. We only take on new clients that are a great fit for the business
10. We have a niche that everyone in the business can clearly define and explain