18 Feb 2019
The quality of your client conversations is the most important part of the relationship you build with them because they form the foundation of everything else that follows.
You could think of it like this...
Poor conversations = poor (or no!) relationship
Average conversations = average relationships
Exceptional conversations = exceptional relationships
I notice an ever-growing realisation within advisory businesses that the quality of client conversations can be no less than outstanding.
Poor and average conversations create an unnecessary business risk.
For instance, a client could easily be lost to an adviser who creates a more meaningful and powerful experience for them.
Back in my advising days my biggest client was a wealthy and prominent orthopaedic surgeon. We worked together for many years but when we were first introduced, he already had a long-term adviser.
It took one conversation and I had a new client.
The existing adviser was not doing a bad job. Technically, he may have been way better than me.
But he was still doing an average job. He had never connected with his client in a deeply human way. He was putting financial arrangements in place but there was no solid plan; there was no connection to how the client wanted to live his life, what mattered most to him and what his fears were. In other words, he only knew his client on a superficial level.
Consequently, there was a disconnect and this is the risk in transactional relationships.
Fortunately, exceptional client conversations are within reach for every adviser, but what it really takes is often misunderstood.
If you look at any adviser who is exceptional at client conversations the difference is two things...
Their state of mind
These are invisible and you only get to see the effects, but like the foundations of a building, just because you cannot see them does not mean they are not holding everything else up.
Intention is extremely powerful, and it will work for you or against you.
Advisers who deeply connect with their clients and get to the core of what matters most to them do so because this is their intention. It does not happen by accident.
What trips many practitioners up is mixed intentions. For example, they are more interested in the client buying a product.
Why is state of mind so critical?
What clients warm to most of all and find highly reassuring is an adviser who not only exudes trust; they are also brilliant at getting clients to open up and see new and inspiring possibilities.
This is not accomplished with techniques; first and foremost, it is your state of mind that influences the state of mind of your client(s).
So, what counts most of all is the tone of a meeting (the combined states of mind of the participants).
A piano tuner listens to a piano to know whether each string is at just the right tension; they have an ear for it.
A savvy adviser pays attention to the tone of a meeting because they understand that the tone is how people will judge the quality of the meeting - the higher and lighter the tone, the more inspiring and uplifting the meeting.
Better results are produced when the tone is high because the quality of thinking is higher and people feel renewed afterwards, not like they have been through an ordeal.
One of the best books you can read on creating better meetings is 'We've got to start meeting like this' by Robert C. Kausen (now out of print but you can find second-hand copies).
He insightfully advises using the tone of the meeting as your compass.
By paying attention to the tone you can guide it. If the tone starts to drop then this is a signal to bring it back up again; to just plough on regardless would be counter-productive because when the tone drops the quality of thinking drops.
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