In the current issue of Bank Investment Consultant, recruiter and consultant Rick Rummage outlines five steps to improve your professional relationships. Heres a shortened version of his advice.
1. Get Personal
Be genuinely interested in your client - if not become a good actor. Humans want to feel you care about them. This can be done through asking open ended questions about them and their families. A lot of advisors sit down at an initial client meeting and immediately start talking business. If you do this you are setting the tone with the client that you only want the relationship to be purely professional. If an advisor cares about their clients and becomes interested in them, they will win them over very quickly.
2. Go Home
Visit them at their house or at least outside of your office. The human mind has a lot going on subconsciously. This is why when you meet a coworker for the first time outside of work it is a little awkward. When you see the person at work the next morning you feel a little closer to them. This is because you met them on the same turf you typically meet friends. When you meet with a client where they usually meet friends and family, the relationship will get much stronger automatically
3. Give to Get
There have been many books written on the rule of reciprocity. The thing you need to know, is giving your clients small gifts makes them feel you care about them. It also makes them feel you listen to what they tell you. It can be something bigger like a client appreciation event or smaller like a magazine subscription to their favorite magazine. You could buy them a neat cooking tool because you know they love cooking or send them a great article on surfing because they like to surf. Its not the size of the gift that counts.
4. Be Fun and Interesting
For some people it is natural to be fun, upbeat and interesting. For others they have to work at it. Nobody likes a stiff serious individual. When dealing with clients remember to smile and laugh. Keeps the conversation fun and interesting. Some people find financial planning boring and stressful. If you can make the client relax through your charming personality, you will win a lot of relationship points.
5. Face Time
It is vital that you have face time with your clients. The biggest mistake most advisors make is not having enough face time with their clients. All advisors should call every client at least twice a year and have at least one face to face meeting. If your client is too small to deserve this treatment, then give them to an advisor that will. Most of us meet our friends 20 -200 times a year and they dont provide us with an income. Since clients pay your mortgage and can give you referrals, you need to give them face time.