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Are you a trusted adviser?

Once a customer has had a successful buying experience with you or your business associates, they are a prime candidate for becoming a life-long client – people who turn to you whether they’re buying or not.

Too many business owners operate on a transaction-by-transaction basis. Think about it: a real estate agent, for example, is going to focus on the next hot lead because that’s where the income is. This is the same for many other professionals as well.

The buyer of a life insurance policy is too often viewed as a one-time transaction, when in fact these happy customers can easily become part of an ever-expanding client base. Instead of the insurance guy who sold a term-life policy, you can become the client’s insurance adviser. I can hear the howls of protest at that comment but orphan policyholder statistics bear me out.

Once a customer has had a successful buying experience with you or your business associates, they become a prime candidate for becoming a life-long client – people who turn to you whether they’re buying or not.

And you’re there to answer their questions and help them make critical decisions because you are their professional. This kind of stickiness is essential to building a client base.

So, how do you turn a single transaction into a life-long professional (and friendly) business relationship? Here are some suggestions.

  1. Act quickly

After a successful experience with you or your business, that buyer is an ideal life-long client candidate. Instead of viewing prospects as transactions, view them as potential repeat buyers – people with whom you maintain contact even when they aren’t buying a new policy or looking for a new investment.

Follow them up within 30 days to make sure they don’t have any unanswered questions.

  1. Ask questions, be helpful

Don’t sell. Help.

Let’s say a new prospect calls looking for car insurance. You can say, 'I don’t sell car insurance' or treat that customer as a one-off enquiry or you can start asking questions to define other exposures to risk and then make a recommendation to an associate you trust. Most people don’t know what they don’t know, but as their financial authority – their expert – they turn to you with all of their business-related questions.

And you’ve converted a single transaction into a life-long centre of influence.

  1. Contact regularly

Provide useful information.

You can use brochures, postcards, video updates and other media; you can use a website, a seminar, a webinar or even a podcast. The ways to stay in touch grow with the introduction of each new technology.

Develop a series of customer groups. Some customers want to buy superannuation. Some want to buy an investment. Some may even want to invest in commercial real estate. Send information relevant to that group and the needs of the members.

  1. Build your authority

Contact the local media and pitch story ideas. Newspapers and print media are often looking for content that you can provide. I wrote a weekly column in a capital city Sunday paper for some time. If your offer fails, create your own blog.

Example? You’re a financial adviser. So, each week, you write 'The Nest Egg' – a column or blog that provides impartial, unbiased information to prospects. This builds your credibility and builds you as a brand. “Hey, I read your article every week!” That person will become a client, not just a customer.

  1. Maintain your reputation

Your reputation is something that has real value. You’re honest. You provide good advice. You put the needs of the client before your own needs.

Your reputation precedes you. Customers know who you are. They know through a personal referral from a friend that you’re a straight shooter. Your reputation is one of the best selling tools you have. Protect it at all costs.

Always put the needs of your clients ahead of your own needs. They’ll appreciate it and you’ll convert one-time transactional customers into life-long clients and advocates, expanding your client base each day.

  1. Show you’re a good corporate citizen

Sponsor a local sports team. Organise a blood bank drive. Participate in community activities. Join civic groups. Stand for your local council. All of these are means of representing your business as a good member of the community.

You’ll get a lot more business this way than you will through advertising in the local newspaper.

  1. Give it away

Offer classes through a local adult education program. One friend, an investment adviser, teaches investment basics. The class is free and it’s always filled. And each semester, that adviser picks up a few new clients who now use her as their financial adviser.

Michael Harrison is the independent chairman of Synchron and is a business growth strategist

Other articles written by Mr Harrison can be found here:

How to navigate change

The view from London

Why consumers need life insurance advice

Are you a trusted adviser?
Michael Harrison - Synchron - advice
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