Connecting the Old-Fashioned Way

AdvisorBlast – Quick Tips to Accelerate Your Practice 
In this issue: Email communication is convenient but can be lacking; sometimes it’s best just to call.

batphoneInstead of spending time agonizing over how to craft a response to a potentially unhappy or confused client’s email, just pick up the phone and talk with them.

Last week I spoke with a coaching client (Ben) who made a breakthrough regarding his aversion to calling clients when things might be awkward. He had inherited a new client from Dave, an older, very accomplished and thorough advisor in his office who had retired. Ben emailed the client for the first time to introduce himself and set up a portfolio review. Dave had great relationships with his clients and left some huge shoes to fill. When Ben sent the email regarding meeting the client, her quick email response back was: “Has Dave retired? How long have you been with the firm? When were you thinking of meeting?”

Ben was taken aback by her quick, curt response. While all clients had received an email introducing Ben when he started with the firm several years ago, understandably some probably missed it or hadn’t made the connection that when Dave retired, they would be hearing from Ben, even though they had been told they would.

Ben imagined the tone of her message and could “feel” her confusion and reluctance to discuss her financial situation with someone new. In his mind, he was on the back foot and needed to word a perfect note: one that was brief yet clear, soothing yet professional. He set about trying to craft a response to allay her fears, clarify more about himself, and let her know all would be OK.

After going back and forth over various words to use, Ben finally just picked up the phone and called the client. He thought if he could hear what was behind the wording in her email, he’d learn about potential fears or apprehensions she held about him. Because he expected the call to be awkward, he was tempted to put it off until later that day or even email back to make a time to talk, but then realized his schedule wouldn’t allow the time; it had to be right then. He nervously dialed and got her immediately.

Introducing himself, he simply told the truth. He explained he was trying to word a response because he could understand how she felt and decided that instead of wasting time doing that, he thought he’d just call, say “Hi,” and talk.

Ben said she asked him a couple of questions and then immediately relaxed. They ended up being on the phone for 45 minutes, with her doing most of the talking. She asked him about market conditions and outlooks and a few Social Security concerns. They even had her full portfolio review during the call, which was far more than Ben ever expected. She shared her goals, retirement plans, and family history. Ben said it turned out to be a fun call. He’s looking forward to working with her, and they’re now planning to meet with some of her family. Ben said he laughed at himself when he reflected how wound-up he was getting about what to write in an email response.

The point: don’t overthink stuff and avoid calling people. Just pick up the phone. It can be the best way to connect with some clients. Be clear about why you’re calling and honest about what you’re thinking. We are bombarded by so much stuff to read, a conscientious, caring voice with a genuine listening ear can come as a welcome relief. Yes, there will be times when details do need to go in an email, but if it’s just as appropriate to call, pick up the phone, dial, and personally engage with someone.

Rather than avoiding the phone and agonizing over an email:

  1. Write down a couple of key points you want to cover on a call. This will help you gather your thoughts and not waste your time or theirs. 
  1. Pick up the phone and dial. Email is completely missing tone of voice. It turned out that Ben’s client wasn’t upset, as he thought; she wanted more information and had simply been brief in her written response.  
  1. Be honest and clear about why you’re calling. Even if it’s simply to tell your client everything is in hand, be straightforward. You might say, “We’re watching your portfolio and things look fine. Just wanted to let you know that we’re keeping an eye on things.”
  1. Engage and help. This is what clients need; this is what we do as advisors. 

To your terrific communications,
Paul
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Paul KingsmanSpeaker and executive coach Paul Kingsman helps financial services professionals overcome distractions to achieve success sooner. Combining his experiences as an Olympic medalist and his background as an advisor, Paul understands how to stay focused over the long haul, as well as the unique business challenges faced by advisors. Through his professional speaking and executive coaching, he helps his clients successfully grow their businesses by taking practical daily steps to achieve outstanding long-term results. He is the author of the forthcoming book,
The Distraction-Proof Advisor: Get the money you need, the clients you want, and more time to do what you love.

To find out more about how Paul can equip you or your team to achieve outstanding results, visit paulkingsman.com/coaching or email him at Paul@PaulKingsman.com


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