As more advisers look to work with greater numbers of higher value clients, they are required, counter intuitively and contrary to everything they’ve ever done before, to walk away from clients who don’t fit their ideal client profile or target market. Years of working with just about anybody, irrespective of the economics makes the concept of “choosing” clients somewhat bizarre. As for training clients, that really is pushing the envelope. Nevertheless, both are achievable.
Choosing your clients
I’m not talking here about some sort of beauty parade where you get to choose who you work with and who you don’t. However, there are many ways in which you can consciously “choose” your clients, by helping them to choose you (or not). Your pricing, your web content, your marketing, the way you position and articulate your proposition will all affect who is attracted and who is put off. Here are some questions to consider when choosing;
- How much does this kind of customer need you?
- How difficult is this sort of person to find?…
- and to reach?
- How valuable is a client like this one likely to be?…
- and how demanding?
It’s not about asking who can benefit from what you provide (frankly most people can). It’s about choosing the customers you’d like to have in terms of both their wealth and their personality. Life’s too short to work with people you don’t really get on with. Every adviser has clients whose names, when seen in their diary as an upcoming appointment, cause that “I’d rather have my toenails extracted” feeling. It’s time to start choosing.
Training your clients
Training clients is not as stupid as it sounds. After all, advisers, aided by the rest of the industry have, for years, trained them to expect advice for “free”. So they are trainable (but regrettably some may not be re-trainable). As Seth Godin says, by rewarding some behaviours over others, by keeping some promises and not others, by having some expectations instead of others, you get the audience you deserve. Harsh maybe, but difficult to challenge.
Here are some of the things, some desirable, others not, that you can train customers to do, by your own behaviour and habits.
- be patient
- keep you a secret from their peers
- demand personal service
- accept a relationship with the firm rather than just one individual
- value and appreciate what you do
- demand free
- spread the word
- focus on cost not value
Remember, they’ll take their lead from you. Train them to be great clients, treat them like they are the most important thing in the world to you, after your family (because they are), and reap the rewards.