The quality of your client conversations is the most important part of your relationship with clients.
It lays the foundation for 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 advice 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 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.
What drives great client conversations
If you look at any adviser who is exceptional at client conversations the difference is two things:
- Their intention
- Their state of mind
These are invisible and you only get to see the effects. But like a building’s foundations, just because you can’t see them doesn’t mean they aren’t 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 doesn’t happen by accident.
What trips many practitioners up is mixed intentions, for example, when they are more interested in the client buying a product.
State of mind is critical here.
What clients warm to most of all and find highly reassuring is an adviser who not only exudes trust, but who is also brilliant at getting them to open up and see new and inspiring possibilities.
This isn’t done by deploying particular techniques. First and foremost, it is your state of mind that influences the state of mind of your clients.
What counts most of all is the tone of a meeting, or to put it another way, 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’s how people will judge it . 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. People feel renewed afterwards, rather than feeling like they’ve 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 (unfortunately this is now out of print, but you can still find second-hand copies).
His insightful advice is to use 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 with it.