When it comes to engaging new clients, everyone has their own way of doing it, and the number of meetings involved is one of the most common variable.
The truth – or at least what a study I undertook a few years back uncovered – is it’s got less to do with the number of meetings, and way more to do with what happens in those meetings that count.
So, today I want to share the approach I coach within the program, called The Appointment Flow System and in particular the 3-step meeting system that lies at its core.
It’s really about approaching the way you engage clients to:
- get maximum engagement,
- reduce fee sensitivity, and
- file noting and all the followup admin much, much easier.
Some call it “Discovery” others simply the first appointment.
Some do the Factfind in advance and won’t meet with a client without it. Some are just keen to have the discussion started.
Some send out information beforehand. Others believe that the best time to deliver the value proposition is face to face.
Some use live modeling tools to show value. Others believe that all you need is great questioning.
There really are a thousand and one ways to cut this cookie.
However, there’s one thing that matters, reinforced to me by recent conversations with three compliance experts I know – Rhett Das, Sam Hawke, and Nadia Docker.
Here it is (and it matters now more than ever…)
“You can have the best file noting, SOA production, tech tools, most efficient turnaround, and all the bells and whistles, but if you’re having the wrong conversations, it won’t matter.”
THE 3 STAGE PROCESS
When I think about working with businesses on their engagement process, I break it down into three main stages, plus a starting point.
The starting point is what I call the First Contact Call.
It’s a 15-minute chat, very scripted, very structured, but really about doing two things.
- Understanding whether the problem or the outcome the client wants is something that you can actually help with. In other words, and this is a client who is going to be easy for you to work with or maybe a little bit more difficult?
- Diagnosing for that client a) what you understand to be their biggest problems and b) the impact it’s having on them.
Because when you can do that you get trust immediately, you get the ability to lead.
Now we’re into the first stage – Plan Scope Session.
I call this the “WHY” stage, because ultimately it’s about scoping out why the client and you would consider working together by:
- Helping them get clear on what they want. Most people don’t know and there are three levels of questioning to help them define it
- Assessing where they are now.
- And finally, identifying the gap between the two.
This “why” is the thing that’s going to motivate clients to engage, and helping them ‘get” what advice is about without having to be “educated:”
If you get this right, you get a clear “Yes” at the end of the appointment and most importantly, you get a financial commitment.
That last bit is key because nobody likes doing a bunch of work and discovered that it’s going to be unpaid, right?!
The second phase is where you outline the strategy “blueprint”, or “WHAT” the advice might look like.
It’s the equivalent of the architect showing the blueprints of a house. We want to show clients what the finished house will look like – get input, feedback and their investment – before we build it.
You’re sharing high-level strategies – but you’re not diving into the how yet -and showing how it might fit together.
You’re saying this like, “I think we should…:”
- .”…put in place a cash flow management system so we can create some play money”
- “…to look at ways to reducing debt the amount of money going to servicing debt”.
- “…get the estate planning situation under control so we know it’s all structured best”
- “…look into whether you’re paying too much for rubbish insurances”
- …work out whether you invested money is rowing in the same direction”
In other words, getting client buy-in for the strategies and your advice.
You’re avoiding what I call the “black box solution”. They’re involved in it. They can see how it works.
Equally important, you’re not going to get this once you’ve presented the plan..
“Oh, you know what? I forgot to tell you about my uncle, Jeff, who’s going to send us a million. We’re going to inherit a million bucks. Does that make a difference?”
The final phase is presenting the Plan of Action/ Statement of Advice, or “HOW” you’re going to make it happen.
- Recap WHY – this is why we working together, the problems we’re trying to solve, and the gap.
- Recap WHAT – These are the strategies you agreed you wanted me to look at.
- Here’s how we’re going to make it happen.
- Here are the steps or the actions we’re going to take
- Here’s where we’re going to put that money
- Here’s the cash flow system we’re going to put in place.
- Here’s how we’re going to invest.
WHY, WHAT, HOW.
That’s it. A simple staged approach that results in:
- An invested client who “gets” it,
- Less fee sensitivity (because clients can see how it fits together and relates to what is important to them)
- You don’t do a lot of work for free, which is really, really important.
- When you do it this way, it becomes really easy.
- You get your file notes right, and the conversation always links back to their why (instead of anything else)
- It also becomes really easy to teach to other people in your team and get them doing the same thing consistently.
I hope this has been useful to you. If you like it please share it, if you really like it, love it if you’d comment below.