When you are talking to prospective clients, everything counts. Whether it’s phone calls, meetings or yes, even emails, you have a chance to show how much value you can bring to their lives. In this episode, Matthew and Micah explain the importance of having one main focus for every point of communication and why there is always room for improvement.
Listen in as they share how to continually improve your wow-factor so your clients are always impressed with the work that you deliver. You will learn the importance of understanding your clients, why emails should never be used for apologies and how to implement great practices into your business.
Everything matters in client communication when you’re trying to deliver massive value. – @ThePerfectRIA Click To Tweet
No matter how good your practice is, no matter how “perfect” it may be, there is always room for improvement. – @ThePerfectRIA Click To Tweet
Referrals are never made when things are good or even great, referrals are made when things are mind-blowing. – @ThePerfectRIA Click To Tweet
This is The Perfect RIA, in case you didn’t know. Bringing you all the strategies to help your business grow. Are you happy? Are you satisfied? Are you hanging on the edge of your seat? Sit back and listen in while you feel the beat. Another myth bites the dust…
Matthew Jarvis: Hello, everyone. Welcome to another episode of the Perfect RIA podcast. I am your co-host and co-founder Matthew Jarvis. And with me though, man, the myth, the legend, Micah Shilanski. Micah, how are you my friend?
Micah Shilanski: Jarvis, I am doing wonderful. We’re close to wrapping up surge a little way, halfway through on our end. As most of our listeners know that a lot of our episodes are kind of pre recorded as we get to surge. And we haven’t actually done an episode in a couple of weeks and we are jonesing by not having to do one. So we’ve got a lot of built up energy inside of this. So hopefully it’s just going to be another outstanding pod that helps our listeners.
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah. Despite having not recorded one in a few weeks, we should figure out a way to publish our chat thread between the two of us because this next podcast is on body language during client meetings. The next podcast is letting the client talk instead of you trying to talk. I mean, we’re just endlessly sending these back and forth.
Micah Shilanski: Yeah, and especially since we’ve done this a little bit for our backstage pass members, right, about the best way to talk with prospects and that everything counts, everything counts. And it’s just what you were talking about with this podcast here, it’s just an email. Well, is it really just an email? There’s so much that goes into this, body language, eye contact, your hands, your clothes, your gestures, everything matters in client communication when you’re trying to deliver massive value. Now, if you want to be a loser adviser and you don’t really care, then it doesn’t matter, right? But if you want to strive to the perfect RIA, it is by the way, a ton of work in order to be at a very high DMV, delivering massive value level, it requires a lot of energy. It requires a lot of work in order to get there where we’re constantly perfecting things.
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah, that’s a good point you bring up Micah. So having a perfect RIA is less, you never really arrive there, right? It’s really an ongoing journey or it’s a goal to get to because we’re constantly- And like I said, we’re going to talk about this with emails today. We’re constantly looking at every nuance thing in our practice and how do I take that to the next level? Which is a reminder for you and I and everyone listening that no matter how good your practice is, no matter how perfect quote unquote, it may be, there is always room for improvement.
Micah Shilanski: Yeah, this is really good. Especially as I’ve been getting out of meetings that we have a new advisor joined our team, right? We’ve heard about them before Christian. And one of the neat parts is as soon as we get done with a meeting, we kind of come back to my office and we debrief about the meeting and I was asked, great, what can we improve? And sometimes he’s like, no no, Micah, you did everything great, you did this and you did this and the client was interacting. I was like, no, no, no, there’s always something to improve. And I’m not trying to be glass as half full kind of guy, right, or half empty kind of guy. I mean, it’s very positive, but what are the little things that actually matter? How I open the door, when did I take my mask off, how did I ask if it was okay? Right? All of these other questions that are in there, everything counts.
Matthew Jarvis: It really does. Now, by the way of Christian needs some help. And Christian, we know you listen to these episodes, just go ahead and text me for areas where Micah can improve. We’ll be glad to.
Micah Shilanski: He did ask for the best way to contact you the other day. And I was like, call his office.
Matthew Jarvis: Well, let’s talk about emails. This is something that, and we’ve talked a lot about emails in the sense of email management, right? That you shouldn’t be checking this on a regular basis that, you certainly shouldn’t have any email alerts. But what about the emails that you and your team are sending out to clients? How do you deliver massive value there? And I guess first of all, Micah, is it even important to, right? It’s just an email, it doesn’t even matter.
Micah Shilanski: Well it depends. Do you want to keep the client or not? Right? I think that’d be the fair question. With every communication you have, you send, you answer the phone with your team, every single communication should be one constant focus. If my entire relationship depended on this one contact, on this one email, this one time I answered the phone, this one time I replied, would they be happy or not? And if the answer isn’t, they wouldn’t stick with me because of it, then you know what? It did matter. Because sometimes our relationship could be like that. Or, you know what? It’s just not enough for them to refer us to the next person. It’s just not enough to have them give us grace for the next time that we make a mistake because we’re still human.
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah. I liked that you highlighted that about referrals, Micah. People don’t give referrals when things are good or even great, they give referrals when things are mind blowing. So I never give her a referral to my electricity company because the lights just come on. That’s not referable, right? When my mind is blown by something, that’s when I go out of my way and take my risk to refer people. So when I get an email and yes, even an email and the email is spectacular and it delivers value and it doesn’t waste my time, which isn’t hard to do in the realm of email, because so many emails are such a waste of time. That dramatically elevates my chances of getting a referral, which is why roughly a third of our new clients each year come from referrals. We’re always looking, how do we go above and beyond?
Micah Shilanski: You know, one of the things we dove into our practice a little while ago, years ago is, when a client would onboard, the first year, 18 months, we would get a ton of referrals from the client. Then it died down and we’re kind of like, yeah, it was really kind of weird. So we’re looking at like, did they run out of friends? I mean, kind of what happened in that time period? Then as we went back and looked at it, it was that same thing that you said, we went from a wow factor to now we’ve raised the bar after a year and a half, two years, this is normal. Right?
Micah Shilanski: And so now all of a sudden we weren’t doing wild things. Yes, it was the same stuff we were doing before. We didn’t lower our services, but their expectations came up to a certain level. So again, the journey of the perfect practice. We had to change, we have to pivot, we have a constantly doing things slightly different in order to improve the value, which creates more wow factor, which means people want to refer to us, people want to tell their friends about the amazing stuff we’ve done.
Matthew Jarvis: Let’s pick an email that seems incredibly mundane, right? That seems like there’s no way to deliver value in it. Which would of course be the meeting confirmation email. That seems perfect. Right? Your meetings next Thursday, it’s at two o’clock, here’s the Zoom link or here’s our address. In fact, why don’t we just have Zoom auto send that or the Calendly link auto send. That seems like a really mundane thing, but it’s still an opportunity to deliver massive value.
Micah Shilanski: And here’s a little way that it delivers massive value. Do I get a generic, because everybody’s Zooms, right? Did I get a generic Zoom email that said nobody even cared to look at this email, right? Is that the generic email I get, because when I see a generic one, that’s exactly what it is. No one even cared to look at this, we all know it was an automated email. It wasn’t a plus that you sent a confirmation, it was a negative. It almost would have been better had you had not sent that automated email. And so if we really look at it from that lens, then there’s a ton of value that we can deliver from that email, and I know there’s a whole list of things we want to go through, right? But from a little standpoint of how do you personalize it?
Micah Shilanski: So in our office, excuse me, we have a template. Sure.
Matthew Jarvis: Yes, you have to.
Micah Shilanski: Yeah, we’ve got to standardize this, right? But our RMs are going to look at each individual client when they create that template in, add some personality to it. Does the RM know something’s happening in their life that we can throw in there in the email? And then what are some other things that we can do? A very simple one, which is what questions do you have for Micah or for Matthew at your next upcoming appointment? And this has been huge when we’ve rolled this out about what, 18 months ago.
Micah Shilanski: By the way, even the wording of that question, right? So if you preface it so that Micah or so that Matt can be more prepared for your meeting, please let us know the questions and concerns you have that he should be prepared for. The wording makes a difference. It’s small things. Is your logo in the email? The Zoom link doesn’t include all the international telephone numbers. Unless your clients are international, why does it have the international telephone numbers on there? Does it say, hey, Zoom can kind of be a pain sometimes, if you have any issues, just call us and here’s our telephone number.
Micah Shilanski: Okay, so epic fail on our end. Definitely got to share this and Jarvis, I don’t even know if I shared this with you. We can anonymize it, we’ll throw it out there backstage pass that people want to laugh at this. So we get a screenshot message from a client and because they missed a call from our office. So it popped up on their phone that they missed a call. And when they look at it, the subject line in their phone says our corporate name is Shilanski and Associates.
Micah Shilanski: Well, would you like to imagine how associates got abbreviated in portrait mode on the phone? It says Shilanski and beep right there. And so she took a screenshot of it and she sent it over to us and was like, hey, not a typo, you may want to fix this. And it was something we never even thought of. How was it going to actually show up on the phone? So everything counts. So now we had to go back to RingCentral and be like, I don’t know how to fix this, but this needs to get fixed. We can not have this showing up as our caller ID on people’s iPhones. So it was a very little thing that everything counts. And again, one area we failed.
Matthew Jarvis: I’m dying over here. Like the jokes in my mind are just about it. That’s not accident. I know which one’s the Shilanski and which one’s the and.
Micah Shilanski: And one of them is on this call.
Matthew Jarvis: I recently joined the payroll. I’ll confess to another one. We were looking and our Calendly link that goes out to clients when we’re scheduling our meetings, it said, click here to schedule the link and the link was calendly.com, blah, blah, blah, Jarvis clone calendar. Why does the link say Jarvis clone calendar? Well, it was because of how it got set up and no one stopped to read that email. Again, we mentioned this because we make mistakes in our offices, we’re looking to improve. I noticed that all meetings were getting the title of advisers semi-annual review, even prospect meetings. Okay, you can say well, that’s a small thing, but it shows a lack of professionalism. Micha your point it shows that no one put thought into this, and if you’re not putting thought into the small things, how can I be sure you’re putting thought into the big thing?
Micah Shilanski: And really is your email going out every calendar link saying prospect meeting. Right? Which I’m sure yours isn’t, but is it being sent out that way? Does someone want to feel like they’re being sold something great. Why don’t you just put timeshare presentation, right? Right on the top of that. So again, it’s a guest meeting, it’s an initial meeting, right? There’s so many other things that we can get creative with. Yeah, so many things that we could call it besides prospect meeting.
Micah Shilanski: And if you have a habit in your office about saying prospects, awesome. Remove that language entirely, say guests, say initial consultations, right? How many initial consultations do we have come up? How many guests do we have that are going to be in our firm? Change the language and that can be a really easy hack because then all of a sudden, if you change the language in the back office, when your team is reading something, they’re going to say, well, that’s not how we talk. But if you say prospect, if you say transfers and AUM and all those other things, and you use that language in the back office, guess what? That’s going to relate and no one’s going to catch it because when the reviewing it, it’s going to seem like, hey, this is normally what we say. This is normally how we do things.
Matthew Jarvis: Mind hack here. I years ago, changed it from prospect to they’re helping somebody make an educated and informed decision about our firm. It’s a line I use a lot, but it was a mind hack for me. It’s a great prospecting line by the way, but it’s a mind hack for me saying, someone’s not going to accept me or reject me, they’re going to decide if we’re a good fit or not and if we’re not a good fit, that’s an easy let down for me versus, hey, I don’t want you to go to the prom with me.
Micah Shilanski: Right, so. All right, so let’s jump a little bit more into this email, Jarvis about adding more value that’s going to be there. All right, so here’s a quick thing. Email is not an excuse for getting on the phone, right? And especially with younger team members, this is something that you really got to focus on because we rely a lot on the phone and text and other things it says, oh, did you call a client? Oh yeah, I contacted them. Not a problem. Great, how did you contact them? I sent them an email. Great, they’re 72. Pick up the bloody phone. Email does not count. So this is a know your client aspect of it. So our confirmation emails go out in advance of our meetings with the value. If we do not get a response from the clients, we are picking up the phone and calling. Now we know which clients don’t do email, great, we’re going to pick up the phone and call them. Are they still going to get that email? Yes.
Micah Shilanski: What if they get it right? They can forward it, they can look at it, we’re still adding value in that email. So we still send an email confirmation to every single client and we’ll pick up the phone and chat with them if we don’t get a response or certain clients that don’t do email.
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah. On that note of when to use email, emails are never used for apologies, they’re never used for we made a mistake, they’re never used when a client is upset or frustrated or confused or any other negative emotion. That’s when I, as the advisor pick up the phone and say, you know what? I’m Mr. Mrs. Client. A mistake was made. It might not have even been a mistake. I made if a client emails and said, man, I’m so angry with fidelity because they locked me out of the account. Boom, phone rings. Wow, that’s super frustrating, you’re locked out of the account. We will get that taken care of, here’s our steps, here we go. But Micah, to your point, emails too often become a crutch and people know when you’re hiding behind an email.
Micah Shilanski: Amen. All right, so Jarvis, what should be in the email? We talked about what shouldn’t be in the email, right? We shouldn’t be generic, it should be customized. But what does that mean? What are other things you want to say in that email?
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah. There’s several examples. One of course, we talked about this, hey, please tell me what questions or concerns that you’ve got leading up to our meeting. Even things as small as I’m very excited to meet with you next week. And you might think, well, that’s a throwaway line, but I am in fact excited to meet with all of my clients and with everyone I’m meeting with, so I want them to know that I’m very excited. Or if my team’s sending the email right, it’s coming from Colleen, she’ll say, Matthew’s really excited to meet with you next week, he’s got several things he wants to talk about, but always top on his list are the questions and concerns that you have, please let me know what those are.
Micah Shilanski: That’s perfect. That’s a ton of value that’s going to be there, right? Because it’s not about origin that we want to cover. We’ve all been in client meetings where we have our agenda. Then guess what something was life-changing in their world that now our agenda really doesn’t matter, we need to fully pivot. What if you had that information in advance, right? We send this email out two weeks before our client appointment. This email goes out two weeks in advance. And what’s really great is the clients can dribble questions in. They can reply right to that, it goes right into our appointment system so we can track right into it. There’s a manual process, but it goes right in, on my end, right into where I can see it. And so now the clients really feel like they have an outlet prior to their meeting to ask as many questions as they would like to make sure it gets addressed. You want to talk about adding value? That’s a solid way to add value just so the client knows they can ask that question and has a forum to do it.
Matthew Jarvis: Another place you can add value in emails, right now we’re in surge and so we’re doing kind of our routine reviews, but if a client has a one-off meeting because there was some kind of major life event we’re focusing on that, that email is probably going to have two or three or four bullet points of here’s a couple things I want you to start noodling on or thinking about in preparation for our meeting. Point one, point two, point three. Not paragraphs, by the way, just a couple of if they had somebody pass away or if they’re updating their estate documents, hey, I want you to just think about when you pass away, how do you want your legacy to look, just think about that. When you can’t make decisions for yourself, who do you want to make those decisions for you? Give them things to let their mind percolate on. And again, that’s delivering value. So they’re going to come to that meeting prepared versus coming to the meeting saying, I don’t really know what’s going to happen here.
Micah Shilanski: I think those are so great. One of these when we’re onboarding a client is we have these pieces set up. We onboard our clients, we break into five steps, right? Estate planning, risk management, retirement income, investments and taxes. And as a client is transitioning and going to the next one, one of the things we love to do Jarvis, just what you said, is not only ask them what their questions are, but we actually have a document created just for estate planning that says, hey, look, here’s some general terms that we might be talking about. So they know what a durable power of attorney is, they know what a healthcare directive is, they know what a will is, they know what a trust is, they know what a HIPAA release form is.
Micah Shilanski: And at first, when we decided to come up with this, I kind of thought it was stupid. I was like, come on, this is a waste of time, the client is actually paying us to tell them what it is. We started sending it out. I was blown away, clients love getting that in advance because they feel prepared for our meeting and not blindsided by these other terms. So again, planting the seed, giving them the little things to think about not tons and tons of information, little bits to be noodling on to come better prepared they really like.
Matthew Jarvis: You know, emails related to the prospect process, right? So this works for clients, it works for prospects as well. We like to on those emails say, hey, we’re excited to see you next week, attached are 10 questions you should ask every financial advisor and for your convenience, we’ve already included our answers. Now, as we’ve talked about in prospecting before, those are all questions that make me look really good, right? So for example, I’m not a fee-only advisor proudly. And so my question’s not going to say, are you fee-only, my questions going to say, what value am I going to receive for whatever fees that I’m paying? And so I’m going to position all of that for my favor, but the client or the prospect in this case feels like I’m doing them a real favor when in fact I am doing them a favor, I’m also doing myself a favor.
Micah Shilanski: Yeah. This is the whole thing with any type of communication we have with the client, right? The essence of our communication is to help the clients achieve their goals. That means we need to be able to communicate differently to different people. This also means that we need to be able to give the clients the right value so we can build the trust with them to help make educated and informed decisions. And this all comes from these little things. And again, just compare this example if before a client comes in, they’ve already had three or four positive contacts from our office that every time they’re getting little bits of value at least in our communication, in let’s just say it was a prospect compared to the normal advisor, the average Joe advisor. I mean just on that email communication alone, we’re already night and day ahead of it. And then also for the client’s aspect of it, they know what to do. They know what to be prepared for it. This is huge guys.
Matthew Jarvis: A couple of other things on this, and these might be smaller points Micah, and we can transition to action items in just a minute. It’s small things like when the client gets the email, right? Micah joked earlier about Shilanski and associates being truncated. What email address is that coming from? Now if your team is sending out, that’s pretty straight forward. If it’s an autoresponder Calendly or Zoom or whatever, what email address is showing up there, what name shows up? If they hit reply to that, what happens? If they need to reschedule, how do they do that? Is it building a personal connection with your team? All of these things make a difference in the process.
Micah Shilanski: So anytime you implement one of these new processes, your team needs to go through it with their personal accounts and their personal devices. And sometimes we’ll have team members who are trying to hack that, right? They’ll say no, I just looked into my computer, work computer’s fine. No, no, no, pull it up on your iPhone. No, no, no, pull it up at your home computer. Right? Yes, I’m serious, I want you to do this because we need to see what it actually looks like when you’re fully going through that process. Really important to change that.
Micah Shilanski: And this does not only two things. Number one, you can catch a lot of mistakes before they come out. But number two, your team actually knows the entire process, which is so important because they know what the client is going through, which is the reason we do financial planning for all of our team members, right? Because now our team members know the process that we go through. This makes them so much more educated and powerful when talking with clients. If they know what that pre-appointment process is, they know what those emails are, they know what those letters that go out, they’re so much more informed to help clients.
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah. Boy, we could really go on all day on this one. One other one would be emails that go out that don’t have the client’s name in them. This is a relatively simple thing to set up. But when it says David Sue, we’re looking forward to seeing you next week, versus what heaven forbid, it says name. We’ve made that mistake before, unfortunately, or just blank. Again, it shows that you didn’t care. That’s the same email they got from the bank, from their hairstylist, from the dentist, all people who are putting in minimal effort. I want to stand out from all other professionals they work with.
Micah Shilanski: Yeah. What doesn’t just come from firstname.lastname@example.org. Right? I mean, seriously that’s what you’re telling.
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah, that’s right. Press two for service.
Micah Shilanski: You know, I always think about before we transitioned into some great action items, look at the Ritz Carlton examples. I always want to step out, we talked to this before, step outside of our industry and look for other areas that do this really, really well. And great, let’s not reinvent the wheel. Do what works. What are our four keys of success? Right? So do what works is a big thing. Look at the four seasons, look at the Ritz Carlton, look at Mercedes-Benz, look at other high-end places and say, great, how do I take some of that and implement it with my clients?
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah, you can of course do that in the reverse too. When you get bad generic emails, right, do my emails look like these emails? But I like the Ritz Carlton example, wherever you’re getting a quality email from, in fact, we’re working on the Perfect RA right now to dramatically improve those emails and so we’re looking at who has really great emails, whose emails do I look forward to receiving and how do we, to Micah’s point, do what works?
Micah Shilanski: Yeah. I mean, just pot calling the kettle Blackie, right? We’re guilty of all of these same things. I mean the Perfect RA. I mean, sometimes we get so busy doing this stuff, you guys get a generic email that comes out that says, Hey, there’s a podcast. Guess what? We need to improve those. We’re working on those, working on adding more value in everything that we do, just like we would do in our practice.
Matthew Jarvis: Perfect. Well, this podcast is all about taking action. In fact, it’s actually the thing that gets complimented and most on the podcast, we get the most positive feedback. They’re like, if you guys would just skip the rest of the stuff and go straight to the action items, that would be really great. But we got to have fun too. So unfortunately you have to put up with this or skip ahead on your phone.
Matthew Jarvis: Alrighty. Action item number one, I would challenge you to go back and look at the last 20 or so emails that have been sent out from your office, from your account, from your team’s account, from autoresponder accounts. Like Micah said, make sure that your personal email and your team’s personal emails are in the system, so anything that’s going out to clients, you’re getting personally. But look at those and say, hey, is this a Ritz Carlton kind of experience? Or is this my dentist office experience? Am I moving the needle up or am I pushing the needle down?
Micah Shilanski: I love it. The other thing that you need to do, another action item is create a template for your team. Now I’m going to pivot from the word template because now we think about a Microsoft template with merge fields and blah, blah, blah. Create a formula for success in your team. And why do I say a formula versus a template? What are the pieces that it needs to have to be a highly valued piece? Needs to be a personal connection, right? Talk about the client, give the client clear deliverables and action items and tell them what we’re going to do. That’s a formula for success. So create that success formula and every client communication is your team going through that formula and great, does that result in a template? Awesome. But go through that formula of success in every client communication.
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah, and definitely set that up. I’m glad you pointed out Micah, this is not just a Microsoft mail merge format, right? Find a template or a system that works for you and your team. So we have some advisers they have on their team’s computers, a post-it note that says here’s the four components of a key email. Other advisors like Micah Shilanski sends BombBomb videos because that works better for him than sitting down and typing out a long email. Create that template that works for you and your office, and then start following it. And if it doesn’t deliver the results you want, go back and look at that system.
Micah Shilanski: How do you know if it’s delivering results that you want?
Matthew Jarvis: Do clients compliment it?
Micah Shilanski: Right. When we did BombBomb videos, that was one of the things that really came out is how are clients going to like this? Is I don’t know, we’ve never tried this before, we’re going to give it a shot. And we have so many rave reviews coming in from the BombBomb videos. Perfect. That’s a success. So if you change it and you get zero feedback, that is negative feedback.
Matthew Jarvis: Totally. Yeah, in fact, this podcast itself was prompted by a client email I got this week that said I had sent them the emails that we described here. And he replies, it says, Matthew, this is why I love working with you. This email delivered value to me, it gave me things to think about when everybody else was doing generic stuff.
Micah Shilanski: I love it.
Matthew Jarvis: All right. So the podcast is all about action items, that means you need to take action. And of course the best action that you can do sign up for backstage pass. I know you thought I was going to say iTunes. So we only open up backstage pass a few times a year. Presently it’s not open, get on the list. This is a highly educated group of advisors that come together in order to perfect and drive their practice and if you are not part of this group, you are missing out on driving your practice to the next level. Then the next thing is jump on iTunes with five stars, of course you give us five stars. Yeah perfect.
Matthew Jarvis: And boy, for backstage pass members, we have so much stuff, great stuff going on in there. Specific to this topic, look for templates that we’ve used in our practice that Amber and Shelby, our dedicated backstage pass team is posting and Micah, anything else we want to share on this topic.
Micah Shilanski: Boy, until next time. Get out there. Happy planning.
Matthew Jarvis: Happy Planning.
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