Designing a “WOW!” Client Experience | FEE011 – Transcript

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So someone now has called you and they want to get together. What do you do? What do you do at that point? What’s going to set you apart from the rest of the competition? There’s a lot that needs to go into wowing a client, right? There’s a lot of thought process and forethought and, you know, really mapping out how you’re going to wow a client and it all starts well before they step into your office.

So I’m going to talk about a little bit…definitely we’re going to spend a lot of time talking about wowing a client, but I’m also going to talk about some examples of a poor client experience. And, you know, I don’t have to go back very far. I’m just going to go back a few days to two stores. It blew me away. Two stores that I went to. So it was Sunday and I had to go to a pool company store and I had to go to a shoe store and I was with my daughter and we went to the pool company store because I needed to get a water sample taken care of just to make sure that all the chemical levels in the pool were all set properly.

So I showed up to the pool store. It was 9:30 in the morning and the hours on the door said they were open at 11:00, and I thought oh great, you know. You get there early, try to get your day all set up and put together, and then you get there and they’re not open until 11:00. Okay, first of all, client experience No. 1 says that most people don’t want to be wasting their Sunday, especially on a beautiful Sunday, running around middle of the day. They want to get all their stuff done in the morning and get back in the afternoon and get back even mid-morning to get their day started, to start enjoying their day with their family and friends.

Now, here’s what happened. So I show up at the pool company and I drive up and I see the sign that says they’re open at 11:00. It’s 9:30. I go to the front door and it’s open. I thought oh this is cool. So I walked in and I noticed that the lock on the door had been, it had been opened, but the lock had been closed, so basically the door wasn’t closing all the way and I could see a guy standing in there so I walked in and said hey how are you. You know, I saw the sign on the door said you’re not open until 11:00, but it’s 9:30, the door was open, so I decided to come in. I said I’m really just looking, just need to get a water sample done; can you do that?

The guy looks at me and he goes oh geez, you know, he says, honestly I don’t even know how to turn the computers on. The water sample, that’s so far out of my league. I have no idea. The girls aren’t in that normally do that and I have no idea how to do that. And I thought to myself what the hell are you doing? I mean, here I am, you can wow me here by saying, you know what, no problem, but bottom line was he said, you know, and finally the other guy, while I was there, another guy showed up and he goes hey Frank, do you know how to do the water sampling and all this sort of stuff, so he said well I really don’t, I haven’t done it for a long time.

You know, and the experience was like oh my gosh, what is going on here. So anyways, it ended up that I finally, I gave them my water sample and I said look, I’ve got a few other errands to run. I’ll come back closer to 11:00. And he says yeah come back. He says we’re open now, you know, anyways. Somebody’s here so if the girls get here early we’ll get them started on it and you can come back. And I thought okay well that helped; that was better. It sort of brought it back to even keel, but still very frustrating because, you know again, all I wanted to do was get in and out and get my day started with.

So then I had to go get some shoes for my daughter and we knew the shoe store was not too far away so we went over. By this point it was about quarter to 11:00 and I showed up, shoe store. What does the sign say on the door? Doesn’t open until 11:00. I thought okay, it’s 10:45, no problem. I’ll be able to go and get in in a few minutes. And I see that there’s somebody standing at the cash register, so I knock on the door and they come through and, you know, that classic where the come up to the first door, they unlock it, they get to the second door, the fiddle around trying to get it unlocked.

They finally unlock it and then they open it a hair. And I said I saw you were there and I thought I could get started early. And she looked at me and she goes, “We don’t open until 11:00, and my girls aren’t here, so nobody’s going to be able to help you.” And I’m thinking to myself well what are you doing? I mean, first of all it’s going to take me 10 or 15 minutes just to find what I’m looking for. You’ve got to know the store a little bit, so why can’t you just let me in and let me wander around looking for the shoes that I need for my daughter?

And most of the shoes are right on the shelf. It’s not like we have to go to the back room and get certain sizes. All the sizes are right out there. And I thought wow, I mean, what kind of service is that, especially when you go back to it and you look at the logic behind what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to get out early in the morning, I’m trying to get my day started, I’m trying to get my day done so I can get back and enjoy my time with my family. But lo and behold, they’re not there to really do anything and it just is so frustrating.

Now, what should they have done? Well, here’s what I would do, and I’ve said this to my wife a lot. I said, you know, there’s so many stores and operations that I could run that would just make clients come back time and time again that would be great. And it doesn’t take much. Here’s what I would have done in the situation. Number one, if you don’t want to open your store until 11:00, fine. Put on your sign that you’re not going to open…the sign says it’s not going to open until 11:00 or whatever it is.

First of all that’s the wrong thing to do because in that situation you want to promote the fact that you’re open early and you’re going to close early because everybody wants to get back to their friends and family and so why don’t you com early and get the day started and what not. Now, so let’s say, we’re going to just follow the rule here that says it opened at 11:00. So what I would do is I would then have all of my staff come in 30 minute early. Bottom line is, staff starts at 10:30, period, and that’s what I do at my office. Our office has hours that start at 8:30 or 9 o’clock and I make sure all my staff is there before that period of time.

And why do I do that? Well, bottom line is this: We now have an opportunity to wow our clients, so in this example, in this pool company or this shoe store, here’s an opportunity to wow a client. Let’s say you get there, so the sign says you’re not open until 11:00; you have your staff come in at 10:30 and you get everything ready to go. So basically 15 minutes before the door’s even supposed to open, you are set to go.

Now, there’s always people who are going to show up early because in North America we tend to like line-ups. We tend to enjoy lining up and we’re really good at doing that. I mean, you don’t even have to tell people to line up, and if there’s a group of people, they’ll form a nice orderly line in front of a store because, I don’t know, there this whole stress that goes into well I was here first and you were here second and so on and so forth.

So I would have it set up and I would then have the door open, so if you get there early, guess what? You pull on the door and it opens. I would even turn the sign to say we’re open just to give people that feeling of well it says 11 o’clock but the sign says they’re open. They give a little tug on the door and it opens. Then as they walk in I would say hey come on in. Looks like you’re trying to get your day started early. Why don’t you come on in? We normally don’t open until 11:00, but you know what? Since you’re already here and we’re already set up, come on in and get your day started.

How much of a wow experience is that? Does that ever happen? Never, ever does it happen. All it takes is a half hour extra. Bring your staff in a little bit early and then make a big deal out of it. You know, put some theatre into the whole process. Choreograph how people would respond to somebody coming in early. I was at a burger joint, sort of a gourmet burger joint the other day, and we got there, we were starving. We were hoping to get there, but the sign said it didn’t open until noon. And I thought oh my gosh, here we go again, you know. A burger joint, why don’t they open at 11:30?

Most people understand that lunch is probably at noon, but the reality is you’re going to get there a little early because you’re probably hungry. Well, all they had to do was open at 11:30, but they didn’t and they sort of…you could see them in there moving around and getting everything all set up, but they wouldn’t open the door. So now, as I say, everybody is normally pretty good at making lines, but what they had out front of their store were a whole series of picnic tables and so my family was sitting at a picnic table and there were other families sitting at picnic tables, but you know, there was a certain order.

We were the first ones there; we got there fairly early and then other people started showing up and they were looking to go into the store as well. Well, I’ll tell you, I was sitting there and I didn’t even have to mention it to my wife until I mentioned it after the fact, and I said what was your experience like when we were sitting there. A beautiful day, sitting with our kids, what was your experience? She goes, I hated it. I was sitting there, I was all stressed because other people were showing up and they were standing closer to the door and I thought, you know, we were here and it’s a gourmet burger place and they’ve got to make each burger individually and, you know, if we weren’t there first line, we were here early and all this.

And I thought wow, what a horrible experience while we were waiting to go into the burger joint, and the burger joint didn’t even know that that experience was going on. They could have avoided all that by simply opening it up and letting us in. Put on the sign that it doesn’t open until noon, but for the people that are really hungry, let them show up early because here’s what happened. We walked in. Now fortunately it was very nice because Canadians can be very polite, and the guy who was at the front of the…who was basically right at the door, he looked up and he says, “Hey you guys were here first. Go on in, you know.” And I said wow, that is one of the nicest things you could do.

And he let us in and we were there because we were there first and he let us in and said go on in and everybody sort of instantly got into the order that they arrived at and, you know, it was very civil. Now we got into the restaurant, or into the burger joint and what was there? Now they had a line-up of 30 people waiting to make their order and when you’re in a gourmet burger joint and they’ve got all these different choices, and they make it from scratch, now you’ve got people humming and hawing about what they’re going to order, then they put the order in and then the people have got to go make it and they make it from scratch.

Well, it was just this total bottleneck that could have been completely avoided. You show up early, you walk in, you make your order. So what if it doesn’t say you open until noon? If you’re there early, get started early. You’re going to make the clients feel better. Now, you don’t want to promote that. You don’t want…but you want to make it seem like hey, you know what? I’m here early and I recognise that you got here early for a reason. And that just flips the tables and gives people an appreciation, a sense that they’re being appreciated.

That would have gone a long way because my wife was sitting there, instead of being able to enjoy, and I was sitting there as well. Instead of being able to enjoy the time with our kids, we were sitting there getting stressed out that we were going to have to wait in a line-up even though we were there first. So ridiculous I know, but bottom line is all of this could have been avoided and the reality is it’s reality. That’s what happens. So those are some…the last three says, that’s what basically what’s happened in my life and those are three different stores that I went to and those are the experiences.

So, you know, it doesn’t take much and there’s a lot of poor experiences. Now I want to talk about good experiences. Now do you set your fee-based financial planning firm up so you can give people a good experience? Now we’ve talked about, in my business, we’re not on a retail location. We are in an office building, so it’s not like we’ve got a storefront that we can open early and that sort of thing. But here’s some examples of things you can do to make the experience of becoming a client of yours a great one.

So starts off like this. So here’s the process that we go through. So remember, we’re starting this show saying what would you do if, just after somebody called you and said hey, I want to get together with you, heard great things about you, let’s set up a time. Great. So what do you do? You book a time with them on the phone. Now, what’s your process from this point forward? Well, here’s what I would recommend. First off, if you’re going to add your prospect information to your database, so all of their, what I call, tombstone information. Their name and address and whatever you can get from them. Their email address, their contact information. All that sort of stuff, as much as you can.

You don’t want to probe and you don’t want to go into their birth date and their SIN number and all that sort of stuff, social insurance number, social security number, or anything like that at this point because it’s really not pertinent to the conversation. You want to get the information that basically makes sense that you would have it, so contact information and that sort of thing. Add any notes from your discussion because if you’re had a conversation with the person and they’ve talked to you a little bit on the phone, add some notes because hopefully when you’re talking with them on the phone, you were asking them questions, you were asking them open-ended questions to help them just explain what it is that they were looking for, to help prequalify them a little bit on the phone.

Well, make those notes in your system, so add any notes from your discussion that may be of interest to know before you have that meeting so you can refer back to them, because if you start doing this a lot you’re going to start having many, many more meetings and it’s very difficult to keep everything in order, so that’s why a good CRM is important and that’s what I would recommend.

So set them up in the system, put all their contact information in, and then book the appointment on your calendar through the contact relationship system, so you book it on the calendar, so now we’ve got a record of when they appointment’s going to be. Now, what we don’t do is we don’t track the prospect. We track the opportunity because everybody that comes in, it’s an opportunity for us to work with them and so we’re going to track the opportunities. Now, all of those opportunities have to be related back to a particular household or a lead or whatever you want to call it. But we want to track the opportunity, so on your system, and as you know, we use sales force, we add the household information, or company information or account or whatever you want to call it, and then add the contacts that are associated with that household.

So, the way our system, we look at it, is we say if we just have your name and information, we haven’t booked an appointment yet, you’re going to be considered lead on our system. But as soon as you contact us to book an appointment, we’re going to convert you to becoming a household, and that household will then have contacts within the household. If you’re an individual and you’re not married, then you are the household, so then it’s basically, it’s a one-person household, or what we call a person account.

And so we set it up where we then set the information up for the household and then we set up the contacts in the household. And then we associate to that household an opportunity and the opportunity is for, you know, when people come to meet with us, they’re coming to meet with us for financial planning opportunities. So we then create a financial planning opportunity and everything for that relationship, for that opportunity, is tracked against that particular opportunity.

So, an opportunity, it’s another object where, to talk computerese, a household is an object, a contact is an object, but we’ve now got opportunities as objects and we can relate those objects to other objects. So we’re relating the opportunity back to the contact and back to the household. Now we’ve identified on our system all the different types of opportunities that we have. You know, when you track opportunities, that’s important because most people will have multiple opportunities and you want to make sure that none of the opportunities don’t fall through the cracks.

So if you don’t track them, you’ll lose sight of them and they’ll just all become one big opportunity that you’ll lose sight of some of the little details that are there. And so we just want to make sure that the opportunities, all the different types of opportunities, are tracked. So what we’ve done is we’ve gone into our system, we’ve said okay, we have various types of opportunities; financial planning opportunities, we have investment opportunities, we go as far as those opportunities could be retirement plan opportunities, taxable account opportunities, education savings plan opportunities and trust account opportunities, that sort of thing.

We have living benefit opportunities, so there’s an opportunity for critical illness insurance, there’s an opportunity for long-term care, for long-term disability, for health benefits, for group benefits. You name it. We have opportunities for wills because we want to make sure that our clients wills are up-to-date, so we track that opportunity. We have other executive compensation plan opportunities, so individual pension plans, retirement compensation arrangements, that sort of thing. So we put together all the different types of opportunities. We said well what are the different things that we can work with a client on, or what are the different things that we’re going to be keeping track of?

For example, we don’t actually write wills because we’re not lawyers. However, it’s important from a financial planning perspective that the client does have an up-to-date will, so one of the opportunities we have is a will, and so we track the will, we go into it, we say okay is the will updated. We put a copy of it there, and so it’s very easy for going back to after the fact, so we track all the opportunities.

Now, it’s important that you map out the stages of each opportunity…you’re going to go through with each opportunity because what that does it allows you to identify all the tasks to trigger as you move the opportunity along from stage to stage. And this will help in the automating of your system. So, you know, we all know, if you’ve put in an insurance policy in place, there’ s certain procedure that you go through from the taking in the application or generating the illustration, taking in the application, moving through, underwriting and all the stuff that goes along with that; placing the policy, getting paid for the policy, all that sort of thing.

So there’s all the different stages you go through. We’ve done that and we’ve mapped out all the stages for all of our investment opportunities, all of our living benefit opportunities, all of our will opportunities, all of our financial planning…you name it. We’ve mapped out all the different stages that we’ve going to go through. And that just helps us track things along, but it also helps in the automating.

Now, then we book the initial appointment and link it to the financial planning opportunity. So remember, in this example, we’ve booked a meeting with the client, or perspective client, they want to come in and talk about their financial planning, so we book the opportunity against the financial plans. So when is shows up on our system, it shows up as here’s the meeting subject, so it’s a meeting to, you know, initial meeting. And it’s linked to the opportunity and the opportunity is basically financial planning and then they have the client’s name, so we can tell exactly who it is and, you know, that’s the way sales force works and it’s brilliant. It’s brilliant.

So now we track the opportunity. So once we’ve done that–that’s the second step–now we go into the third, which now, by tracking that and setting the stages properly, this will trigger tasks to be completed at the various stages. So at this stage, we now set the stages to, if we book the opportunity, the stage moves to what’s called pending first meeting and that’s simply a stage that we know…when I look at that very quickly, I can see here are the opportunities, and here are the ones that are pending first meeting, which tells me the meeting’s been booked and I’ve just been waiting for it to happen.

Now, it also triggers, because now we’ve got the triggers off of that opportunity stage, we now trigger a confirmation email. So as soon as we set that stage, it sets a task to say okay, send a confirmation email of the appointment. Now, in that email, what we’ve done is we’ve templated the email and we’ve put a Google Map. Now in the Google Maps, we’ve put a little…we basically go into it, because now we know the information from where the client’s coming from, we go in and we say well this is where our office is located on Google Maps, this is where the client’s coming from. We key that information in and it creates a customised direction, a customised map for how to get to our office and we link that in the email.

We also include links to the various testimonials for, you know, testimonials that we have so people, when they get the email they’ll take a look at what other clients have been saying about us. We include links to other articles, appearances that we’ve had. Anything that you’ve been involved with to promote your credibility because, again, in our case we’re an independent financial planning firm, so we don’t have the credibility that comes from being associated with a big brokerage or a big bank or something like that, so we need to do that in your own way.

Now, we include the details of the meeting, places and time and encourage them not to bring anything with them unless they have something specific they’d like to go over with us. Now, again, we’ve talked about our process in previous episodes so you can go back to those and listen to sort of the scripting and stuff we go through. But again, we promote not bringing anything with them. And that, you know, gives us a bit of a competitive advantage because, you know, it just allows you to be a little bit different.

Now, I’ve heard of an advisor, and I thought this was a pretty novel way of doing things, and we haven’t done it just because it just doesn’t work as well, but if you’re in a downtown core and you’ve got sort of clients clustered around you, what this advisor does, he arranges for limousine to pick up the client and bring them back to their home. So instead of that client having to worry about driving, a limo comes, picks them up, brings them over, and sets…I mean, that in itself is a wow experience.

You could also have a reserved parking spot with the client’s name on it, so you know, you have the ability to have a variety of spots and you can put a sign up there; then you can put the clients name on there and that goes a long way as well. So again, just little things that you can do to create that wow experience.

Now, when they come in for the first meeting, design and choreograph a welcome procedure for the prospects, so here’s an example. So the initial point of contact then gets up, so the client walks in, the door opens, and our initial point of contact would be the receptionist usually. So they get up, introduce themselves, and they shake their hand and then they ask if they can take their coats and then they provide them with a list of beverages to choose from, and then they’re directed to sort of a comfortable waiting area.

After the coats are hung up, the prospects are asked what they would like as a result of reviewing the menu, and then the beverage information that is obtained as the person goes to get the beverage information, they remember what it is and we log that and record that in our database. That’s not unique, that’s not new. I’m sure you’ve heard that one before, but how many people are doing it?

So we remember what they put, so we just put a little note saying well here’s what they had at that first meeting, and so we’ve got a little field that tracks that so it can be changed if they come in the next time and happen to change their beverage choice. Well then we can update that. The beverages are brought to the prospect in the waiting area. And now they’re left in the waiting area for about four or five minutes. Now, we do this purposely because I want them to take in the scenery. I want them to really take a look around because things have been strategically set up there.

I have what I call my eagle wall and it’s basically pictures of me at a microphone doing a radio show, pictures of me with celebrities, you know, media celebrities. I’ve got a picture of me with the Stanley Cup for any of the hockey buffs out there, pictures of me…I’ve got, my wife Kathy and I were on the cover of a magazine, so we’ve got that, you know, front and centre. Pictures of me in the newspaper, articles that we’ve been involved with–whatever shows you off as a person who’s in the know or sort of a person of importance.

This is where you get a chance to very easily, without having to say anything, build credibility. So have that eagle wall. Make sure you’ve got something that shows off who you are. And you know what? If you haven’t been in the paper and you haven’t done any media work, that doesn’t matter. Then get some pictures of you catching a big fish, or get a picture of you with friends around. Or if you have a cottage or if you have a favourite place that you like to go, put some pictures that show who you are. Get a little bit more…little bit of background with you.

I remember when I was years ago, really, really young, I went into an advisor’s office who I was…this was before I was even a financial planner, and I wanted him to sort of, you know, start me out, invest my money. And behind his desk he had all these pictures, great pictures of him holding these massive fish. Now, he didn’t have anything to do with media or, you know, self-promotion. It was just really cool pictures of him doing what he loves and he was an avid fisherman.

Well, that was just…it gave me a sense of who he was and so that goes a long way in helping to build the relationship with that perspective client before you even get there. Now, after the few minutes have come and gone, the planner comes out and greets the prospect and introduces themselves to them and invites them into a meeting room, boardroom or wherever you have your meetings. Now, I recommend a meeting room as opposed to an office because you can keep things lean and mean that way. I personally, I don’t even have an office, so the nice thing about that is when you can get to a no office solution, which is a Dan Sullivan promoted thing, and it’s brilliant when you can get to that point. When you can get to a no office solution, you basically show up and you’re lean and mean as well.

You’re not carrying all this stuff, you’re not sort of hiding in your cave where your stacks of information has sort of built up and built up and built up. You know, I go into accountants’ offices sometimes and oh my gosh, it’s just crazy. I walk in, and there’s files all over the place. There’s boxes of files everywhere. It looks horrible. And these are some high-end accounting firms and it just doesn’t look good. So, you know, if you have a meeting room or if you can set up a meeting room or turn your office from an office into a boardroom, then that will go a long way.

So then we go in and we go into the room. Now, we go in…the planner then goes into an initial meeting script, and so I’ve talked about the meeting script in the past, but the important part of this script is to get across to the prospect that what the purpose of them meeting is. And the purpose of the first meeting is twofold. Number one, it’s for the planner to get to know what it is that the prospect is really there for and to assess as to whether or not the planner’s services are appropriate for what the prospect is looking for.

The second thing is for the prospect to be provided with the opportunity to find out more about the planner, what the services are, and whether or not these services are indeed what they’re looking for. That’s important to get that across, so whatever scripting you’re putting together, make sure you have two steps in there. Then, and this is important, always have them agree to this fact. If it’s determined by the planner that they feel that they can provide assistance with what the prospect is looking for, the planner will recommend a second meeting.

So this is what I’m talking about. Make sure that in the initial scripting, you say by the end of the meeting typically here’s what’s going to happen. So number one, make sure they’re aware that the planners really assess whether or not it makes sense for a second meeting. If it is determined that the prospect feels what the planner provides is what they’re looking for, then they will also agree that the second meeting is appropriate. But if either the planner or the prospect feels that it’s not appropriate to get together for a second meeting, that they will state this and have everyone agree and that nobody will be offended if one party comes to that conclusion.

This really clears the air and shows that the prospect, that you’re serious about who you work with. It provides a sense of scarcity and inclusivity and the prospect realises that they will not be pressured into a second meeting. Everything is on the table in the outset and everybody knows the rules of engagement. This is probably one of the big…if you take anything from this episode, this is the thing I want you to take. Have them almost agree to what’s going to happen at the meeting. You say to them listen, I’m here to do one thing and I’m here to assess what it is…if what it is that we do is really appropriate for what you’re looking for.

And I understand also that you’re here to basically kick my tires and determine what it is that we do is what you’re looking for. So if we both agree that it is, then we’ll say that and we’ll book another meeting to take a look at the details. But if one of us really feels that it’s not appropriate, then you know, we’re all big boys and girls here. Let’s just tell each other so there’s no confusion. If I don’t feel it’s appropriate, I’ll tell you and I hope that you will give me the same courtesy.

Honestly, whenever you say that, you see them nodding their head going thank you, yeah, that makes complete sense. Now they know that they’ve got a way out and nobody’s going to be offended because the rules of engagement are on the table.

Now, once we’ve done that, then the planner hands the prospect a clipboard and on the clipboard is an initial questionnaire for the prospect to fill out with as cover letter. Now the cover letter stressed the importance of filling it out independently from one another, so if they come in and it’s a couple, it stresses listen, this is your information. This is your opinion. No peeking on your spouse’s. Don’t talk about it. We’ll have that conversation when we get back together. Don’t talk about it, no peeking, do it for your own opinion.

Now, the planner then excuses themselves to take care of something else that’s going on, and gives the prospects a chance to sort of sit there by themselves, without any pressure, to complete the form. And then basically you have some way of monitoring what’s going on, so in our office we’ve got a glass wall so we can actually see when the prospect is pretty much completed the questionnaire. And so it just gives us a chance to give them some privacy, but also now it gives them a chance to take in the surroundings.

So what do I have in my boardroom? I’ve got all the different credentials that I’ve got. I’ve got my the CFP and Chartered Financial Planning designation and I’ve got the license and all that sort of stuff. Everything that basically is provided to me in a certificate form, I put those certificates up there so people can see. Very much when you go to a doctor’s office or a dentist’s office, you can see all the different certificates they’ve got. It’s nice to see that, so it helps to build some credibility.

Now, you go through the meeting as intended. Ask lots of open-ended questions, you know. Why do you feel that or can you explain that further? I want to be clear, you know, just because I don’t want to miss things here; can you put that another way? So ask questions. When you’re going through the questions that they filled out on the questionnaire, you know, you’re going to ask them why they answered the way they did and they’re just going to go on and they’re going to explain that to you.

What you’re looking for is you want to find out what is the pain that they came to have resolved? Why do they want to come and see? There’s something bugging them that they want to get fixed, that they feel that you’re able to do. What is that pain? And so you want to really get what that is. Then at the end of the meeting, this is when you’re going to make your recommendation and so you can sum it up by saying something like, you know, earlier we said we were going to be honest with each other and tell each other whether or not we felt it make sense to go forward. I’m going to go first and here’s what I think.

After going through this, you know, I either think it makes sense or I don’t think it makes sense. And then you say to them, okay, what do you feel? Do you think it makes sense to get together for a second meeting so we can look at the details or not? And basically two people are going to say yes or one person’s going to say no and if that’s the case then if you’re the one saying no, just make sure you’ve got somebody that you can refer them to or a direction that you can refer them to, but chances are, if you’ve done your homework prior and in your previous conversation with them, you kind of get a sense that most people that are coming to you are probably appropriate, but not everybody. And I’ve had to turn some people away because I just didn’t feel it was worth their while in getting together.

Actually, oftentimes what I’ll do is I’ll turn them away but I’ll say you know what? Right now is probably not the right time because we do charge a fee for this and I think that, very simply, if there’s a few things you need to accomplish first of all, why don’t you accomplish those first and then once you’re done, then I think you’re going to get more value from coming back and working with me. So you can sort of push them away nicely like that.

Now the final result. If it’s yes for both, then you book your next meeting. Now, when you book the next meeting, you change the stage on the opportunity to now pending meeting No. 2. And this will trigger any tasks that need to take place, like a summary letter. If it’s no, then you refer them to someone who you feel is more appropriate for them to work with or just refer them to a place that they can go to find somebody.

If it’s yes, provide them with…and then if it is a yes, you want to them provide them with that information package on how to prepare for the next meeting. So we tell them here’s a data and documents checklist; go through this checklist and this is the information that I’m going to ask you to bring with you to our next meeting. We also include some more testimonials, so it really just gives them homework to do and it just gives them a nice takeaway that they can take with them.

Now, before the next meeting, remember, when we changed the stage on the opportunity from Pending Meeting 1 to Pending Meeting 2, that triggers more things to happen. So what does it trigger? Well, in our case it triggers a summary letter. We send them a summary letter outlining the details that I recorded during the meeting. It goes a long way to proving to them that you were listening and that you’re serious about working with them. It also restates to them what the problems are that you revealed, and allows them to agree or disagree with the summary.

So just basically it’s a nice little touch. We send out a letter saying listen, here’s a summary of what we found, my findings during the meeting. I think there’s some areas that we can definitely help you with. These are the areas that came to the surface and, you know, it just allows them to sort of revisit that experience. And it puts a nice cozy feeling in them because now they’re getting something from us as well and it just sort of keep the whole process moving along.

When we started implementing that, our second meetings, I mean, virtually nobody ever cancels them. They carried on with them and it was great. Now, we also, just before this second meeting, have a confirmation call or email to ensure that they’re aware of their second meeting, so that just again, you know, as a good firm, good professional firm does, always confirms a meeting.

And when they come to their next meeting, now your greeter does the following. So the same person, or if it’s a different person, we just basically choreograph it, so this is what happened. They greet them and welcome them back to the office. They take their coat and they escort them to the waiting room so they can take in the scenery again. Now, we don’t leave them there as long because, you know, they’ve already been there once, and oftentimes we find people are looking at other pictures, so maybe they caught some of the pictures but they didn’t catch them all, and so they’re going to start taking a look at the other pictures they haven’t seen yet.

And then we say to them, listen, can I get you a beverage. You know, that was a little tea with a little honey in it, wasn’t it? And for you I think it was coffee with milk and sugar, right? Well, you know, yeah we recorded that information from before, but it just shows positive intent. Oftentimes, people are blown away by wow you remember? And then they say yeah, you know, yeah we remember and it’s just how it works. And then we go and we bring it out to them and whatever.

Sometimes people say ah, you wrote that down, didn’t you? And we say yeah we did; we wrote it down because we want to make sure we always have what you like available for you when you come. They love that. The people love positive intent. They know you’re tracking it, they know, you know, there’s no secret there, and if they’re smart and they’re aware of customer service, they’re going to appreciate that. You know what? I would love it if companies would do more and more of this. Yeah, I now they’re tracking it, but you know what? It shows that they’re engaged. It shows that they really, really want to add value to the relationship that they have with me.

So when they come to the next meeting, we offer them the beverage that they have, and then we carry on and move them right into the meeting room again. So then the planner greets them and invites them into the meeting room. Now, the planner will ask to see their homework. What we’re going to do is, as the planner, you’re going to want to go through each document that they bring with them, and they’re going to have a stack of documents with them. You go through each document making sure that everything is there.

Get a true assessment as to where they are and if you really do want to spend time working with them. This is your chance. You’re now getting an opportunity to look at the details. You’ll know, at that point, whether or not you want to work with them. If you do, and chances are if you agreed to a second meeting it’s because you do want to work with them, then it’s just going to reconfirm that. But, you know, sometimes things come up and your realise, you know what? Maybe this isn’t a case that I should be taking on, and that’s your opportunity to say no. Because if the client’s coming back, they’re probably really motivated to work with you and so this is your last opportunity, so go through and get a really clear assessment as to where they’re at.

Now, if they made it to the meeting, as I said, it’s safe to assume that you’d like to work with them. Now, you need to present your fee, and this is where a lot of fee-based planners will completely clam up. The way you do it, again, is you review each document that the client has. Review each component of your planning process and illustrate how these will do a complete overview of their financial planning needs to ensure nothing falls through the cracks and everything’s coordinated.

So what you’re doing is, you’re basically saying all this stack of information, I’m going through it, I’m taking a look at my notes from the previous meetings. All of this is what we require in order to go through a comprehensive plan and thank you very much for bringing it all with you. Then you present your fee. Now, I have three different programs. So each program is priced based on the different stage of their financial life and it’s basically set up based on the fact that I know when people who are in the elimination of debt stage, well I’m going to be focusing on elimination of debt and there’s really not going to be a lot of other complexities involved.

So earlier in the relationship, it’s probably an easier plan to put together as more time has gone on and they’re older and more serious, or closer to retirement. Or if they’re business owner, oftentimes that can get more complicated as well. So we’ve got the eliminating debt stage, there’s a wealth accumulation stage; then there’s the wealth preservation stage and then each one of those previous stages, the elimination of debt stage, wealth accumulation stage and the wealth preservation stage, we have a business owner version of each because business owners just have a uniqueness to them because they do have that corporate entity that you can start doing a lot of planning with that most employed people don’t have. So it’s just sort of a supplementary program that we’ve put on to our programs.

So we’ve got those three core programs and we present the fee. Now, I honestly wouldn’t move forward with a plan for anything less then $2,000. Anything less would simply discount or undermine your value. There’s been a lot of work leading up to this point and people are kind of expecting at this point to have a much higher fee than $2,000, that’s for sure, but they’re expecting to have something in that range. When you present $2,000, then it’s sort of like yeah that’s pretty much where I thought it was going to come in.

Oftentimes you’ll have people go oh really, that’ sit? Because they were expecting much more because of all the things you’re going to be touching on. Anything less than $2,000 in my mind at this stage of the game, is simply going to undermine your value and if you’re not charging for it, it probably isn’t worth very much. So this is where people will run into a big problem. If you don’t charge for the financial plan, people will not really take the value, or they just won’t appreciate it as much.

My experience has been that whenever I raise my fee, people take me more seriously. There’s a great quote, a guy by the name of Joe Polish, and he basically says when people pay, they pay attention. Now, I couldn’t agree more. When people pay me, the implementation goes through the roof. They do everything that I say. They listen to what I have to say because they’re paying me for it. We then get them to complete a letter of engagement so it lays out all the terms that we spoke about, you know, everything that we’ve talked about leading up to this point and now puts it in writing for them and they find that very comforting.

And then we only accept credit cards. That’s just something that we do, is four our financial planning fees we only receive credit cards. I don’t like to have to send out invoices for cheques on renewables and that sort of thing. I just want to have it preauthorised and set to go. So we only accept credit cards and we authorise them for 50 percent of the fee immediately, 50 percent of the fee in two months, and then annually on their anniversary for their renewal fee.

That’s how it works on the fee side, and then we’ve got in the letter of engagement, they just sign for that. They sign the authorisations and everything’s good to go. Then once we’ve done that, as soon as that’s done, then we basically book the Plan Presentation Part 1 meeting and so again you move the stage on the opportunity from the pending Meeting No. 2 and we have a stage called sales decision yes, and we also have one called sales decision no. If they’ve decided to go forward with the planning services, we put it to sales decision yes. What does that do? It triggers a whole series of tasks that we can complete, and I mean there’s a lot there because now we’re formally setting up a client on our system.

So we update their data on our system to ensure all the information’s recorded properly. We send out…there’s a task to send out a new client welcome kit; we put their base plan together; we ensure the Plan Presentation Part 1 meeting has been booked. If not, we then book it and that’s just a safeguard reminder because sometimes people can’t book their next meeting at that meeting and so if they don’t book it right then and there, what’s going to remind you to go back and make sure that was booked? So we have a task that we have to turn off to say oh yeah that’s been booked, because oftentimes we haven’t booked it and we need to go back to that.

Now, a couple of notes that I want to mention on this. Put a system in place to track the expiry dates of your client credit cards so that you can contact them the month that their card expires to update the information that you have on your system so that you never run into a situation where renewals going to come up and you don’t have a current credit card. Another point I want to make is never discuss detailed investment solutions during this meeting process. And I’ve talked about this in the past, but it’s something that’s very, very important. You never want to talk about solutions now because they’re paying you to put solutions together, so don’t talk about any solutions up front.

Now, they may start asking about investments, what type of investments do you use and all that. You can give them the general information, but when it comes to the details for them, you can’t answer that because you haven’t done the analysis and the plan is the analysis that you need to complete before you can properly address that investment need. And that’s a start. I mean, that’s the start because you should then do the same thing for all of the stages you’ll go through to complete the financial plan and properly deal with each opportunity.

So what I do is, you want to map out the stages for each opportunity, manage the opportunities and then service the client. So, you know, as I’m going through, again I started out with the opportunity being our financial planning opportunity. But as I’m going through the writing of their financial plan, I’m recognising here’s the opportunity for their investments. Here’s education opportunities, here’s insurance opportunities, and I’m putting all those opportunities in the system.

Now, why am I doing that? Because I don’t want to let anything fall through the cracks. So I know in that case, when I put all those opportunities, I have a stage which basically is the first stage and it’s called Need Identified. This is what I’ve identified the need, I’ve put it in there so I can make sure that when I get together for a review meeting, I’m going to basically bring that back up and say hey I identified this need, I want to have a conversation about it. This way, every time you get with a client, you sit down, you take a look at your opportunities list, you take a look at the stages; it will tell you exactly what you haven’t dealt with yet. It also tells you what you have dealt with, so you don’t look like a dufus when you go back to them and say okay it’s time to talk about life insurance and then they say well we did that last time and you say oh geez sorry, you’re right, you know, my mistake. That eliminates that.

Also, compliance loves this procedure and the reason being is that when you’ve identified something and you’ve dealt with it, and maybe they’ve come back and said no, you document that. The sales decision is no. If you’ve gone through and said okay I think you should take a look at some disability coverage because you’ve got this need, you go through the process, it comes back and they say no I’m just not interested, or no I don’t want to look at that right now. Fine, then you change the opportunity stage to sales decision no.

What does that do? Well, let’s say a couple years down the road suddenly the client gets disabled, comes back and says, you know what, if I heard about…I found out that there could have been some insurance I could have bought to buy out that would have protected me from all this, why didn’t you tell me about it? You go back in your notes and you know what? We actually did talk about that on such and such a date and you actually decided against it. So we went through the whole analysis. You just didn’t feel it was appropriate at that time.

So there’s some compliance benefits there, so it’s a nice way of doing it so you can properly, you know, just protect yourself from some of the negatives that can come from people’s emotional responses when they’re basically up against a very challenging situation, for example, a disability. That if you’ve dealt with it, at least you’re protected now. It doesn’t change the fact that, you know, you dealt with it, they decided not to take advantage of it and then they could have benefited from it. That hurts in itself. But the reality is then, you know, at least you’ve got some documentation that says that you’ve covered that.

So, you know, that’s the wowing experience. Can you imagine if you were a client and you were going through all this and every step of the way something new came up? You got a new client welcome kit after you said yes when you got home. Remember, there’s one thing. There’s the buyer remorse. You know, when they’re paying a few thousand dollars or up to $10,000, it could be $15,000, $20,000 for all I know. I mean, it all depends on the level of clientele you’re working with. The point is, sometimes people have some buyer remorse. Well if the next day or the day after that they get a nice package they weren’t expecting that has a nice, you know, great high quality t-shirt in there that’s got the company logo on it, that’s got a nice book that has nothing to with financial planning that you thought might be of interest, you know, other things.

You put whatever you want in there and we’ve got, you know, our company name, Iron Shield Financial Planning; we’ve got Iron Shield grocery bags, you know, the reusable bags because they’re something that everybody needs now. And so we put them together, we get some really high quality ones and it just works out well. So, you know, always be looking out and one of the things that we do with our staff is whenever we have a staff meeting, I’m always saying have you guys come across anything that was just a wow experience because I want to incorporate those into my business, into my practice.

And so any time you come across anything that you really, really find was a wow experience, simply take note of it, go back and see how you can work it into your process. So all of this, put it together. It’s simply going to help you build a better business.

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Copyright © Scott E. Plaskett 2012 All Rights Reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced without Scott E. Plaskett’s written permission.

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