There are many things that advisors subconsciously do in client meetings that make a large impact on how those meetings go. Everything from how you enunciate to how you position your body are either adding to or detracting from the client experience, which is ultimately the determining factor in whether they hire you. So, in this episode, Micah and Matthew will be discussing several things you should and shouldn’t do in client meetings.

Listen in as they share how to ensure you are performing at the same energy level throughout every meeting you are conducting, as well as the importance of explaining every action you make to your clients so that they know you are completely present. You will learn how to become a rockstar level advisor, why what you wear matters in meetings, and how to set proper expectations.

What You'll Learn In Today's Episode:

  • Several things you should or shouldn’t do in client meetings.
  • Why you should record client meetings so that you can go back and watch.
  • The benefit of explaining what you’re doing during client meetings.
  • Why you should understand your endurance for meetings.
  • The importance of slowing down the conversation to ensure your clients are understanding what’s going on.
  • How to set proper expectations.

There are many things that advisors subconsciously do in client meetings that make a large impact on how those meetings go. Everything from how you enunciate to how you position your body are either adding to or detracting from the client experience, which is ultimately the determining factor in whether they hire you. So, in this episode, Micah and Matthew will be discussing several things you should and shouldn’t do in client meetings.

Listen in as they share how to ensure you are performing at the same energy level throughout every meeting you are conducting, as well as the importance of explaining every action you make to your clients so that they know you are completely present. You will learn how to become a rockstar level advisor, why what you wear matters in meetings, and how to set proper expectations.

Podcast Article:

Forging Better Client Connections Through Better Meetings

Being a skilled financial advisor will only get you so far if you’re not connecting with your most important assets: your clients.

If you’re a financial advisor trying to grow your business, you know how important each of your clients is to your success. But if you’re not doing everything you can to cultivate those important relationships, they could slip through your fingers.

Maintaining strong client relationships takes more than just skillful account management. In this article, you’ll discover three overlooked strategies used by top advisors to make every client meeting an unforgettable experience, every time. 

Action Items in This Article

  • Consider your clients’ perspective and the messages you send them by how you present yourself. Everything from your clothes to your office to the wall behind you make an impression; make sure it’s the right one.
  • Bring all the energy you bring to in-person meetings to your virtual meetings too. Your clients are just as screen-fatigued as you are; it’s your responsibility to carry the mood and brighten their day.
  • Record yourself conducting a client meeting, then play it back without the sound to see what you can learn about your client’s body language. Adjust as necessary in future meetings to keep clients comfortable throughout your entire time together.

1. Respect Your Client by Respecting the Details

Picture this: You’re in an important video conference with a professional you trust, when a horrific explosive sound blasts through your earbuds and makes you jump. You look at the screen, and there’s your professional…chugging the diet cola he’s just popped open. Suddenly, your “professional” seems anything but.

Impressions aren’t always fair, but once formed, they can be hard to un-form. However you feel about soda, drinking one during a meeting can send your client the message that you don’t care about your health and you’re just not a top-level performer. Who knew a simple drink could be so dangerous?

Any professional at the top of their field knows it’s all about the details. Follow these simple rules for client meetings to make sure you’re always giving your clients the right impression.

  • Always be the best-dressed person in the room or on the screen. If you’re just starting out and can’t afford the nicest wardrobe (yet!), find a way to budget for at least one stellar outfit you can wear to any meeting and never fail to impress.
  • Only drink water, tea, or coffee during client meetings, and always in the same mug. Now, every client has the same experience, no matter what time of day. 
  • Make sure your paperwork is in perfect order. The simple step of assembling your meeting materials in the order in which you’ll present them will save you from an unprofessional scramble.

2. Maintain Your Social Stamina Throughout Surge

If you’re four weeks into a surge, and you’re running six meetings a day, by the time Bob and Sue walk in your door, you may have already had over one hundred meetings. That’s a huge emotional drain, even for the most extroverted financial planners. But for your clients, it’s their first financial planning meeting in several months, and they expect—and deserve—your full attention.

If your meeting with Bob and Sue doesn’t have the same energy of those earlier client meetings, you’re not given them the same amount of value. No matter how exhausted you might be, you must rise to the same high level of performance in every single meeting. Here’s how.

  • Take care of yourself. While you’re in surge, it’s more important than ever to eat well, sleep well, and stay physically and mentally fit. You might enjoy after-work dinner parties or rigorous adventure sports, but save those distractions until your focus is free to wander.
  • Pay attention to your clients’ energy levels. If Bob likes to sit back in his chair with his arms crossed while he listens, do the same when he’s speaking. If Sue is animated and engaged, lean forward and nod in cheerful agreement when it’s her turn to speak. Matching your clients’ body language helps put them at ease and make every client feel like their meeting is your first.
  • Learn from what doesn’t work and adapt as necessary. If your ten-minute breaks between meetings just aren’t enough to recharge your batteries, do what you can to take extra care of yourself, then schedule yourself more time between meetings for the next surge.

3. Cultivate Virtual Connections

It takes real effort to engage with someone over a video call, and that emotional strain can impact your clients’ perception of your time together. Worse, when clients can’t see the notebook on your desk or the spreadsheet on your second monitor, every minor distraction can drive a wedge between you. It may feel to you like looking away from the camera has nothing to do with your client—but it has everything to do with your client.

The kind of person-to-person connection we all rely on can feel elusive now that so many meetings are virtual, and client relationships can suffer. But interacting through a screen doesn’t have to be impersonal. To mitigate the alienating effects of video conferences, follow these tips for creating a unique experience that has your client feeling like they’re right in the room with you.

  • Record client meetings, then review them. You’ll might notice a few unexpected behaviors that you didn’t pick up on during the call—behaviors that indicate your client isn’t having the best time. Maybe their eyes get wide, or maybe they shift and look away. Whatever signals they give, use them to improve your next performance in your next client meeting.
  • When you’re on a video call, make sure your body language shows that you’re engaged. Focusing on your monitor can make your client feel like you’re staring off into space and not looking at them, so make sure to look directly into the camera as much as possible.
  • If you do have to look away from your client, that’s fine; just let them know what you’re up to. Say, “Excuse me for one second, but I’m just checking some information on this other monitor.” Now that they know what’s going on, they won’t think you’re ignoring them.

These details may seem small, but even the tiniest details have the power to compound and strengthen or derail a client relationship. By focusing on providing an excellent customer experience and bringing your A-game to every meeting, you’ll be on your way to strengthening your client bonds and building on those relationships for years to come.

Resources In Today's Episode:

Read the Transcript Below:

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…

Micah Shilanski:  Welcome back to another amazing episode of The Perfect RIA Podcast. I’m your co-host, Micah Shilanski. And with me, as usual, is the amazing … Professor Jarvis?

Matthew Jarvis:   Professor Jarvis. Well, Micah, as you know, you and I were recently in Sedona doing a couple’s retreat and they let you-

Micah Shilanski:  Whoa, whoa, whoa. We have to work on your language, buddy. This was not a Matt and Micah couple’s retreat. We took our wives just-

Matthew Jarvis:   Was Micah there? Yes. Was Matt there? Yes. Yes, we were there with our respective wife, Kelly and Jackie. Yes. And when I checked into the hotel, they let you pick your title. So I picked professor and so it said Professor Jarvis on everything. And I kind of like that, so I think I’m going to stick with it from now on.

Micah Shilanski:  Fair enough. All right. Well, speaking of that note, professor, we had a couple of amazing things kind of come through. But one of the things that, again, I just thoroughly enjoy about what we do is the ability to take a peek into other advisors’ practices, whether it’s at a Mastermind, whether it’s a Zoom meeting that we’re reviewing for an advisor, whether it’s things like that that’s going in, we get to see some interesting things take place, which is so great about this. There’s so many things that we do subconsciously that have a giant impact in client meetings that we don’t think about. And what I like about it, this is a whole splinter in a plank thing, because I can and totally spot somebody else doing it. Then I got to say, “Holy crap! Am I doing this in my own practice? And where do I need to up my game?”

Matthew Jarvis:   Totally. And you see this with performers of top levels in any industry, in any profession, the top performers. And financial planning is a performance. The top performers are incredibly nuanced. There’s some great YouTube videos of Jerry Seinfeld talking about how he’d come up with jokes. And top-level comics will go back and they’ll watch their presentation to see their enunciation. The enunciation of the words is critical to the joke being funny. Now, we’re not necessarily telling jokes, so that does help the process. But things as small as how you enunciate, or how you position your body, or what you do with your hands, or your headset, or your Zoom camera, all of these things are either adding to or detracting from the client experience, which is ultimately, what determines if they hire you, if they stay with you and most importantly, if they follow your advice when things get really hairy.

Micah Shilanski:  Now, we could go into depth in this. This is the client waiting room. This is your lobby. This is when they approach your office. This is the phone calls that are made. All of these things are making subconscious decisions with the clients. Are you a trusted person? And should they follow your advice? Now, what we can directly, what we want to focus on, I should say, in this particular topic is that client meeting experience. And what are some dos and some don’ts that are out there? And this might shock some of you. And I know it’s going to shock some of you, because we’ve seen some of your video footage in client meetings and things we should do in things we shouldn’t do. And the best part is you can actually see the client’s reaction when you’re going back and watching this.

So one of our action items, a little foreshadowing here, will be to record client meetings to go back and watch. And when you do one of these behaviors, it’s very fascinating to watch the clients’ reaction. And a lot of times their eyes will get wide. They’ll shift and they’ll look away. Their body language is going to be negative and not engaging in that relationship. Now, you could be thinking, “Oh, my gosh, Micah, what egregious things are all these advisors doing? I would never do them.” But really, Jarvis, these are subtle things that we probably all do in some way.

Matthew Jarvis:   Yeah, they really are. There’s always areas of improvement. That’s a mindset shift by the way, is that I always have ways to improve. In the Zoom world that we live in, as you said, it’s easier than ever to record these sessions, go back and watch them and say, “Great. Was I adjusting my headset the whole time? Was I making eye contact with the camera?” That’s an easy one to make a mistake on. So you have two monitors, heaven forbid. And now, this is a podcast so you can’t see me, but you’re turning to the side. You’re looking at the other monitor. To the other person on the other end of the camera, it looks like you are not paying attention to them. They don’t know what you’re staring at. So things like this, you think that doesn’t matter. It does matter to the professional. Everything matters.

Micah Shilanski:  And here’s a good contrast between it. If you don’t think it does matter, go run five or six meetings and do it the way we say it does. And then see the client’s reaction and notice that there’s a difference. For example, Jarvis, whenever I look away from the webcam, I tell clients what I’m doing, even if it’s more than once in a client meeting. So what does that mean? So I’m going to shift my eyes and I’m going to look at my other monitor right now. When I do that, I’m going to say, “Excuse me, one second. I have that information up on the other monitor. I want to look at this so I get you the accurate information.”

Or when I look down, because I take all my notes on my iPad, they can’t see my iPad in the camera. Actually, I’ll do this as well when I’m in person. I’m going to say what I’m doing, “Hold on one second. I want to write this down. This is really important I get this correct.” And I’m going to be taking notes on my iPad while I’m right there. I need them to know that I’m doing something besides playing on Facebook on my iPhone.

Matthew Jarvis:   Yeah. Checking your phone. You’re looking down at your lap or you’re checking your phone. Yeah, I do the same thing, Micah. Every time I look down on a Zoom meeting, “Hang on one second. Let me write this down. I want to make sure I get it correctly.” And an in-person meeting, same thing, “Excuse me, one second. Let me write this down. I want to make sure my team gets this implemented correctly.” And then, of course, I read those back to them later at the end of the meeting, “Okay. Let me just make sure I know what my notes say. We’re going to take care of this. We’re going to take care of this. What else did I miss?” These things make all the difference.

Micah Shilanski:  Jarvis, have you ever had a client do that back to you?

Matthew Jarvis:   Oh, that’s a good question.

Micah Shilanski:  I’ve only had my professional clients do that back to me. Ones that are in professional services, they’ll do it right back. It’s hilarious. One of them in particular, she’s like, “Hold on a second. I better write this down. This is important. I’m taking my notes.” And she kind of mocks me she’s going through it, because she knows exactly what I’m doing, but she really appreciates it. She doesn’t take this negative at all. She knows that this communication is really, really important and that for me to communicate what’s going on, on the other side of this webcam.

Matthew Jarvis:   I’ve never had anybody do it in a mocking way, though. It’s funny. I have had several clients who were very high-level executives and they would be insistent that notes be taken and that an email summary be sent out afterwards, because they sit in so many meetings, like, “I can’t keep track of this meeting.” Has to be written. Has to be an email summary afterwards.

Micah Shilanski:  Amen. All right, Jarvis. So let’s jump into this. Well, before we get into this, let’s keep in mind one of the things, especially when we go into surge. And surge is like taking a wildfire across the industry, which is amazing. Extreme accountability, we’re hearing that pop up in others’ Masterminds and not just the ones we’re running, which is great. So we’re seeing these things take off, but one of the things to keep in mind when you build your surge calendar is your endurance, is your ability to engage with clients. I do seven to eight meetings a day. This is not a benchmark to say what you should be doing. And if you’re doing more, rock on. But the real question is, what are you solving for in your lifestyle? And do you have enough energy to perform for seven to eight meetings a day, because it’s a lot.

Here’s where I bring this up. If you’re four weeks into surge at seven meetings a day, you’re now in your hundredth, some odd hundred and 10th appointment, whatever that math is, going through this, are you performing at the same energy level as you did in your first and second meeting? And if the answer is no, you’re doing this wrong, because guess what? Yes, this is your hundred and 10th meeting in the last four weeks. But it’s this client’s first meeting. And this is why it’s important, is we can’t truncate what we’re doing. We can’t all of a sudden say, “Well, I’ve already said this a hundred times.” I don’t think that joke is as funny for the hundred and first time. But you know what? It’s their first time as we’re going through this. We need to rise to that level and be able to perform.

Matthew Jarvis:   Yeah. And again, we go back to other professionals. You and I, we were at a Mastermind in Las Vegas one time and we went and saw Penn and Teller. And they did the same show they had been doing for decades! These guys do the same show several nights a week for decades. And yet they bring that energy. And to your point, in client meetings, I need to go into with each client meeting and remind myself, “This is their first and only meeting in surge. Maybe it’s my hundredth. Maybe it’s my two hundredth, whatever the case may be. This is their first and only meeting during surge. And I’ve got to do what it takes.” And if that’s doing the Tony Robbins, I’m jumping up and down in my office before I go into the conference room, if it’s I’m pounding another cup of coffee, whatever I need to do to make sure I’m on my A game.

And Micah, one of the things I’m guilty of, I’d be curious if you… I’m guilty of this. I get further along in surge cycle. I start truncating my meetings. I start saying, “Well, we can skip bullet points three, four and five.” Nope. I have to remind myself, if it made it on the agenda, it’s important for this client, even if I’ve heard it so many times I could do it asleep.

Micah Shilanski:  Yep. Yep. You want to make sure you’re having this rockstar experience for the clients, because there’s no A-level advisor. It’s a B-level advisor or a rockstar-level advisor. And it only takes a little bit to become a rockstar. It takes a lot of work, but it’s only a few things that you have to do in order to do that rockstar advisor. And it’s such a night and day difference. And when we start skipping steps, what that means is we’re not delivering massive value.

Matthew Jarvis:   Yeah. Now, Michael, let’s drill into a couple of things, because some of these things… And I know that I’m guilty of this as well. And having Alex in my meetings has made me more aware of it. You having Christian in your meetings and vice versa. We watched an advisor’s video. We won’t need to name his name, because we don’t need to embarrass him publicly, at least not right now. And during the middle of the Zoom meeting, all of a sudden we hear this awful sound and then realize that it’s the sound of a soda can opening. And up comes a can of Coke, chug, chug, chug. Can put down. Maybe this advisor has a sponsorship from Coca-Cola that we’re unaware of. We have pulled this AD video. We didn’t see this as an outside business activity.

But what message is this sending a client? Now, you might enjoy Coca-Cola. That might be your drink of choice. That’s not a professional’s beverage. That’s not what you pop open during a meeting and start drinking, because it sends the message of, “I don’t really care about my health. I’m okay drinking kind of garbage. I’m not a top-level performer.” All of these messages are cascading through the client, albeit subconsciously. It’s not helping you.

Micah Shilanski:  Now, Jarvis, I will mix between three beverages in a particular client meeting. I will go back and forth between coffee, tea and water. Now, that’s not three… And tequila! Tequila’s in all of them. Duh! So it’s like the creamer. Now, in that, I don’t have three separate cups that I’m drinking from in a client meeting. And from the client’s perspective, one meeting to the next, it’s always the same coffee cup. So it’s always a coffee cup in which I’m drinking from. That’s what the tea’s going to come from. That’s what the hot water’s going to come from. That’s what the coffee’s going to come from, is a coffee mug. Now, this going to sound really crazy, but even if I’m done drinking in that particular…

Well, couple things I do. Number one, I do not chug the coffee cup. That means I do not physically put the coffee cup above my head to get that last drip of coffee. And why am I saying this? It’s because, yes, I did see this in a meeting. You do not do that. I don’t care if the client does it. I’m talking about the advisor in this particular role. You don’t do that. So for me, in the coffee cup in which I’m going to be drinking from, even if it’s out, I am still going to hold it in my hands like normal. I’m still going to sip from it. That’s got to be there, because I’ve created a routine. I’ve created an experience with the client and I want to keep that same mojo going. Or, Jarvis, and I just crazy? Well, the two things can be true at once.

Matthew Jarvis:   If you are, we’re both in the same kind of crazy. I do the same thing, a coffee mug. I drink tea in mine. It doesn’t really matter. It also forces me to stop and listen. So after I’ve sort of made a point or I’ve asked a question, I just pick up that coffee mug and I sip from it, because it makes the silence less awkward for me. If I just let silence lie, especially as I was a younger advisor, that really bothered me. But hey, if I’m stopping to take a drink, it gives a client time to think. It gives time for there to be silence in the room without this awkward confrontation. So that is my go-to. I’ve got it. I’ll take a drink after every question.

Micah Shilanski:  One of the things my sister does, who’s an accomplished advisor on her own right, is whenever she’s working with someone that takes a little bit more time to process things, or if you’re familiar with DiSC, like a high C, you can’t just drill them with questions. And she’ll actually move her pen to her left hand. And it’s awkward. She’s right-handed. She’ll put her pen in her left hand and it’s weird for her, but that’s her reminder of saying, “Hey, I need to slow this conversation down.” Well guess what? That’s the same thing Jarvis just said with this coffee cup is, guess what? When I have my coffee cup and I know you guys can’t see this, but I’m physically doing it right now. I have my coffee cup in both hands. I’m sitting back in my chair. This is my slow down mode.

So if we’re in a type of client relationship, whether maybe that they’re high C, they need to process things a little slower, they can’t be drilled questions, maybe we’re talking about something really difficult. We’re talking about a blended family and how we’re going to mix up the kids and the money. This is a little challenging, where silence is important. Your coffee cup can be a really great sign of saying, “We’re now going to take time.” Because, guess what? The entire room knows when I grab my coffee cup and I sit back in my chair, even if we’ve never met, everybody knows this is a now slower paced conversation.

Matthew Jarvis:   Boy, that, Micah, goes into the whole area of body language, or sometimes referred to as NLP, or neuro linguistic programming. And it’s again, how do I build rapport with people, especially when our communication styles are different? I’ll give you a quick example. There’s a client that I have, husband and wife. The wife kind of runs the finances. She’s very excited. She’s very engaged. The husband always in, crosses his arms, sits back in the chair and won’t say two words. And so I am always mirroring his body language whenever I’m talking to him. Why? Because I want him to know that I’m respecting his approach. And then when I’m talking to the wife and she’s excited and she’s leaning forward in her chair, I’m excited and I’m leaning forward in my chair. But I’m mirroring their body language. It shows consciously and subconsciously that I respect their position, that I respect the approach or the energy that they’re bringing to the room.

And you might think, “Well, that’s silliness. That’s for sales people. That’s whatever.” No, it’s for people who are master communicators and who want clients to feel comfortable, because what inevitably happens, the wife still loves me, because I match her energy. And then the husband warms up, because he says, “All right, this guy understands me. I’m not just being drug here by my wife.” And whether those roles are reversed, really, the genders not the specific thing here, it’s I’m matching the energy of whomever I’m talking to.

Micah Shilanski:  Jarvis, one of the things that Christian and I talk about before a client meeting is what type of personality styles do they have? And it just kind of came up right here, especially as Christian’s getting to know some of our clients. And I have some high-level executives, very high D, very high on the quick start stuff that are married to some very social wives, very high I-love-to-chit-chat. I’m like, “Great. When you’re talking to Bob, short, sweet, direct. And when he says, ‘I got it,’ stop talking about that and move on to the next thing. And if he says, ‘I got it,’ twice, you’ve gone way too far.”

Versus the wives. So I’m going to be real quick with Bob rolling through these bullet points. And when I’m talking to Sue, I’m going to have a little bit more conversation. We’re going to talk about the grandkids. We’re going to do this. And when Bob has a question, I’m going to pivot over to him and I’m going to be direct with my answers, because that’s the communication style that he likes.

Matthew Jarvis:   I love it. Another item on the list, you need to be the best dressed person in the room or on the Zoom call. This is, of course, something that you know as listeners that Micah and I are very passionate. We are 100% custom-tailored-suit-and-tie kind of guys. We’ve had a couple of advisors who claim that in their niche, a suit and tie stands out. I’m still on the fence on that one, but either way, I always want to be the best dressed person. Now, that does not mean I need to be wearing the most expensive clothes in the room. I don’t need to be wearing a Gucci custom outfit, whatever that is. But my suit, as a man, I can’t speak to women’s clothing, because that’s not my expertise, but as a man, my suit is custom tailored. It fits me perfectly.

I have to have a discussion with an advisor about this, Micah will talk about this one offline, whose shirts don’t fit at the top. So he has to leave the top button unbuttoned so they fit. That is a shirt that has to be thrown away. A shirt that has a tattered cuff that needs to be thrown away. Do not show up in a client meeting with a shirt, or a tie, or a jacket that does not fit you like a million bucks.

Micah Shilanski:  And this is one of the things, I don’t even know how much my dress shirts cost. They cost a lot of money to go through. And I’m going to be cheap when it comes to this. This is inherent in my nature. I’m going to say, “Well, okay, well, does it really matter that much? How about I roll the cuff inside so nobody sees it?” And so I can play all these games. So I got to put a safety net in place. And one of them is our household manager. She takes care of the laundry and does all that stuff. She picks up the dry cleaning. She is to look at all of my shirts. And if they’re not rockstar quality, she immediately separates them and says, “Nope. It’s missing a button, or starting to get wear, or starting to do these other things.” And so now, we can automatically go and replace those. Because if I had to make those decisions, I would fudge on it.

So I have to know my own limitations with this. And I have to put somebody else in there to help me. So if you’re in that same camp, where you’re like, “Holy crap! I don’t want to spend another 250 freaking dollars on a dress shirt,” then okay, great. You need someone else to help make these decisions. Or you need to set very clear expectations on how that needs to get done, because, Jarvis, it matters.

Matthew Jarvis:   Yeah. Now, I will add a tip for our newer advisors who are saying, “Oh, my goodness, I don’t have 250 bucks to spare for shirt.” A dear friend of mine, a business mentor, she told me early in my career, when I was wearing terribly fitted suits, she said, “Jarvis, listen, you need to have one outfit. One outfit that when you walk it into a room, you feel like a million bucks in it. It needs to be really at the edge of your budget. Nobody needs to know that you only have one of those, but that’s the outfit you wear when you’re meeting with clients, when you’re closing prospects. So the other days of the week when you’re playing office, wear whatever you’re going to wear. But when you’re meeting with clients, that’s when those gold slippers, so to speak, come out.” So again, there’s no excuse to not have at least one room really sharp outfit, though really, Micah, to your point, all of your outfits should be sharp.

Micah Shilanski:  Amen.

Matthew Jarvis:   That said, we’re recording this podcast in T-shirts right now.

Micah Shilanski:  I was thinking about that. But just to be clear, we’re not in front of the camera for you guys. So, yes. And when we do webinars, we’re in suits, even with advisors, because this is really important to do. All right, a couple other things that are going to be really, really important in client meetings, setting proper expectations. This is one that took me a long time to learn. We’re actually going to re-craft our homework sheet this next year to make sure everyone on our team is doing this the same way, but setting expectations with the client on when things are going to be delivered to them. And I want to be very cognizant of my team’s time with this. And this is where I can get in trouble, is I can say, “Oh, at the beginning of surge, it only took a week to get A, B, C done.” I tell the client a week. That means it should be done in three days, because we want to exceed expectations.

But all of a sudden, six weeks into surge, maybe the team’s a little bit behind. I need to be in tune with them and where they’re at so I can set proper expectations. Because the thing that drives me up the frigging wall, is the fact that when we have something done for a client and we failed to communicate on time and the client follows up with us. Now, if I told the client, “Guess what? You’re going to get this next week,” well, what does next week mean? Because next week is Friday. Friday of next week is still next week. But that probably means Monday or Tuesday. They’re thinking the beginning of next week.

So if I set poor expectations with clients in saying, “Hey, you’re going to get something next week,” my team does it. They don’t communicate with the client, because it’s Monday at 8:00 AM. The client calls in Monday at 9:00 and says, “WTF! Micah said I’d have this by next week. It’s next week. Where’s this information?” And we haven’t communicated it, we look bad. So when you’re setting expectations and times, and Jarvis, I’d love your feedback on this as well, it’s very much like, “Great. On Wednesday, the 20th is when you’re going to be getting this information, by the end of the business day.” So I want to set a date expectation so the client knows it.

Or, at least, if I don’t know when it’s going to be done, “Great. My office is going to get ahold of you by X date to set a time to get this done.” If we’re doing a third-party transfer, I don’t do those. Our Ops team does them. And they do an amazing job. I don’t set appointments for them. And I tell clients this. I say, “Look, if I get on their calendar, I’m going to mess it up and I don’t want to create more work for them.” And the clients laugh. “So I’m going to have, Sharnell call you by this date. Is that going to be okay? And we’ll set up a time to do this.” “Yes. Perfect.” And then we can do it. So we’re always setting a date and time expectation with clients.

Matthew Jarvis:   I love that. That’s essential. Anytime we’re leaving things to someone’s imagination, so to your point, like, “This will get done next week,” the odds of you and them coming up with the same expectation are almost impossible. So yeah, yeah, set the expectation. Take that easy victory. “This meeting will take about 60 minutes. This thing, I’ll have the team take care of that by the end of next week.” Whatever it is, be really clear about the expectations. And then be sure to write that down. This goes back to this taking notes thing. I want to write this down, because I want to make sure that I remember correctly the expectation that I set.

And if I come out of there and I forgot to set an expectation, I need to get a hold of that client right away and set that expectation. “Mr. and Mrs. Client, I know we just talked and I said we were going to take care of this thing. I just want to let you know that this will be done by Friday the 12th,” whatever that is. Again, Micah, to your point, add a few days on top of that.

Micah Shilanski:  And also, I like to throw in there, too, especially if I have to deal with a third party, we had a couple of CPAs just at the end of this last year, just did not want to talk to us. There were new clients. We had a hard time establishing the relationship. I mean, rarely it happens, but sometimes it does. And so when it came up to that expectation with a client, I was working with Christian on this, I’m like, “Call the client. We said it was going to be done by X.” And he’s like, “Well, it’s not done.” It’s like, “Doesn’t matter. His CPA’s not responding. Call the client and let’s communicate this.” Sure enough, we called the client. The CPA’s been communicating with the client and the client didn’t tell us about it, because the client thought the CPA would send us the stuff at the same time.

So really important, because if we wouldn’t have called the client, the client would’ve said, “The CPA’s responding.” Clearly, this is your fault. So we really have to be engaged in that client relationship and communication.

Matthew Jarvis:   Well, I love that. Pivoting back to the client meeting, another small thing that I see advisors do that I discovered on accident myself, when they’re doing Zoom meetings, and by the way, this goes to making sure that you’ve experienced the client experience from the client’s shoes. I was waiting for an advisor to get in their Zoom room. And I realized, it said, “The host will let you in soon” or something like this. What do you mean, the host will let me in soon? What does that even mean? Well, it turns out, in Zoom, you can customize that box. So Micah, I know for yours and mine, now it says something cool, like, “Normally, this is when we’d offer you a coffee and a warm cookie, but over Zoom, it’s not going to work really well, but we’ll be right with you. Really excited to meet.” Something cheerful.

And the same goes with your hold music. Call your office and have them put you on hold. What’s the hold music? Is there hold music? Is it this boring, screechy thing? I made sure, I insisted that on our RingCentral they put some upbeat, groovy music. And so I kind of enjoy being on hold. So that way when the person picks up, I’m in a good mood, I’m excited. Again, they might seem like silly things, but it’s the smallest things that make the difference between, Micah, as you said, rockstar advisors and B-level advisors.

Micah Shilanski:  Jarvis, we took that idea that you had about changing the Zoom room, to the coffees and cookies and we took it and added one thing to it this past year. We actually mailed clients that couldn’t come in because of COVID, we mailed them cookies. Because they would normally get cookies, so why not just send them cookies in the mail? And so it went over super good, especially with all the drama with COVID and all that fun stuff, could come in, not come in. We’re again, trying to create a little bit more of that experience.

Matthew Jarvis:   Another area that comes up, Micah, is knowing, or at least trying to anticipate, what questions or concerns the clients are going to have and then how you are going to respond to these. Now, we’re going to go into great detail in our webinar next week, which is how to double the value of your communication to clients and prospects. But thinking ahead and saying, “All right, if the client or prospect asks me about fees, if they ask me about inflation, if they ask me about Bitcoin, how am I going to respond to that in a very succinct…” And I don’t want to say clever. It’s not quite the right word, but in a very succinct way.

And Micah, the best way I found that is to ask other advisors, “Hey, listen, when your clients ask you about Bitcoin, or inflation, or the collapse of the U.S. dollar, whatever it is, how do you respond to that?” And 9 out of 10 advisors I talk to have a terrible answer. But 1 out of 10 has a really good answer that I can then adapt to my language and use that in the client meetings.

Micah Shilanski:  The other thing that I want to do on that, and I love that, Jarvis. I love asking other people, because guess what? We don’t have a monopoly on the great ideas. A lot of advisors are just rockstar advisors in their own way. And so finding what those are is great. Also, that’s a great time to ask more questions. When someone says, “What do you think about crypto?” or, “What do you think about gold?” or “What do you think about real estate?” or blah, blah, blah, great, it’s a wonderful time to ask more questions of the client. And let’s find out what they’re thinking. Where is this coming from versus jumping to a conclusion, especially if I just got out of a meeting with a doomsdayer, says, “The U.S. dollar’s going to collapse. I got to invest in gold. It’s only going to be real currency.” All of those fun things.

And I get another client says, “Hey, what do you think about gold?” My mind’s in the same place. Now, they could be thinking about saying, “Hey, doesn’t diversification come in? Should we just own this?” I mean, they could be in a completely different mindset than my previous appointment. So for me, it’s really important to ask more questions with that client to find out really what are they looking for before I try to provide any type of answer?

Matthew Jarvis:   Yeah. That’s critical. And maybe they just heard it on the radio as they were driving in and thought, “Oh, maybe I should ask about this.” So am I going to be curious of some of your responses? One of mine is just a really easy, like, “Oh, that’s interesting. Tell me more about that.” Just a quick, “Okay. Tell me a little bit more about Bitcoin. What is it about Bitcoin that has you intrigued?” “I don’t know. I heard it on the radio yesterday.” Oh, okay, then I know I’m answering it. Or they say, “Oh, I think I should take half of my investment and put it in Bitcoin.” Okay, my response is going to be different. Same clients, “Hey, what do we do when the U.S. dollar collapses?” “Perfect. Walk me through the scenario where the U.S. dollar collapses. What do you see happening?” And it lets them open it up instead of me, to your point, jumping to a conclusion.

Micah Shilanski:  I love it. On that one, I just say, “What’s your big concern with the U.S. dollar collapsing?” So kind of the same thing. We’re going in the same direction. And I really want to see, is okay, is it the end of the world? Then I joke with them. And I say, “Look, if we’re buying gold for the end of the world, I’m more of an ammo-and-bullets kind of guy. If we’re buying it as an inflation hedge, okay, great. We can have the conversation. But which camp are we in?” And my hands, I’m using, them like a scale going back and forth. And it’s funny, because clients always laugh about that. I can instantly split up these two different categories and they can, even if they’re at the end of the world, they still laugh about this and say, “Great. Now, let’s have an end-of-the-world conversation about how gold is going to work or not work for you.”

Matthew Jarvis:   I love it. Yeah. For anything, presidential election cycles, whatever that is, and we focus on some doomsday ones, but even if they’re positive ones, “Should we put more money in Apple?” “Perfect. Tell me how owning more Apple will help you accomplish your financial goals.” By the way, I’m never bating them. These questions are never about backing them into a corner, or trying to trick them, or trying to lead them down a path. That’s what everybody expects, because that’s how we’re sold. Instead, it’s really me being curious, like, “In my heart of hearts, I’m curious. Really help me understand more about where you’re coming from.”

Micah Shilanski:  And Jarvis, the next step that I like to do when I’m talking about that is say, “You know what? My number one goal is to help you achieve your goals and what you want to do. And what you’ve told me your goals were is A, B and C. So any answer I want to give is to help you achieve those goals. You want to retire at 60 with $12,000 a month in spendable income. Great. That’s what I’m shooting for, to make sure that happens.” So any advice I’m going to give says is what we’re doing now going to get us there? Now, “Client, guess what? These are your goals. And if you want to change them, we can absolutely have this conversation and we can adjust your goals.”

Now, I really like this, when they’re going to make a decision, that’s not good for them financially, instead of me just saying, “It’s a bad idea,” I’m not saying that at all. I’m saying, “Look, in order to accomplish your goals, you need to do A, B and C. Now, if that’s not your goal, great, let’s have a conversation.” So at no point in time, did I say their idea was bad. At no point in time did I say that I didn’t think it was a good idea. I’m saying it just may not be the best direct path to accomplish their goals. And now, they get to make a decision on whether they want to do it or not. So I’m not the bad guy saying, “No, you can’t do this” I’m saying, “Great. Here’s the pros, cons, consequences with this. And what do you want to do?”

Matthew Jarvis:   I love it, Micah. That’s probably a great way to tie a bow on this episode, which is all of these things that we talked about. You might think, “Well, me wearing a nice-fitting shirt that has nothing to do with the client’s goals,” but really it has everything to do with the client goals. Because as I mentioned earlier, it improves the client experience. It builds relationship capital so that when you need to draw on that relationship capital, when the market falls and they want to panic, when their buddy’s trying to sell them some terrible investment, whatever that is, they can say, “Wow, I absolutely love meeting with Jarvis. And I trust him. And I have a good experience every time I meet with him. I’m going to follow his advice, even though I’m scared right now.” So while you may think, “Hey, me looking away from the camera has nothing to do with the client,” it has everything to do with the client.

Now, the funny result of this, Micah, you and I are living proof of this, as are the hundreds of advisors we’ve worked with in The Perfect RIA nation. The more value you deliver, the more money you make, the more lives you change. These are directly correlated. This isn’t like you need to figure out some new sales technique. It’s really about how do I deliver more value to the client, which will deliver value to me, to my family, to the whole world.

Micah Shilanski:  Yeah, that’s what to focus on. All right. This podcast is all about action items. So let’s go ahead and talk about a couple of action items. One, if you want to know how to double the value that you give in a client and prospect meeting, then sign up for the webinar. You should already be signed up for it. It’s coming out in a couple of days now, by the time this drops. So make sure you email lifestyle@theperfectria.com or jump on the website and register, because everybody needs to up their game when it comes to client meetings. Now, everybody, including Matt and I, this is something we can consistently work on and approve upon. So I’m really looking forward to that.

Matthew Jarvis:   We’ll mention power sessions, our nation power sessions, are one of the only times that we open our membership up for a new backstage pass to INVICTUS members. So we’ve been getting dozens, hundreds, of emails from advisors saying, “Hey, can I join the backstage pass? Can I join INVICTUS?” Yes, you can. Next week. I believe it’s February 16th. It’s next week. Yep, February 16th, you can have an opportunity to join the backstage pass, to join INVICTUS, to really transform your practice in 2022.

Micah Shilanski:  I love it. Next action item that I’m going to suggest is record yourself doing a meeting. This is super awkward. I know, been there, done that. Record yourself doing a meeting, then watch it back. And watch it back with two things. Number one, first time without sound. And see if you can see what’s going on without sound in the client meeting, and what are the client reactions, what’s taking place, et cetera. Really, really important. Then play it back with sound. Now, sometimes when I play it back with sound, because I’ve already watched it, already know what those expressions and body language are, I like to close my eyes and listen to it. This should just be like a telephone call. What do I hear? What background noise is going on? How close is the mic to your face?

That was one thing an audio podcaster said, “Micah, you breathe a little too much into your mic.” And I didn’t realize I was doing this on client meetings as well. So I had to get a different mic setup to make sure that wasn’t happening. The clients were being super nice. They wouldn’t call me out on it. So it had to be somebody else. So you need to listen to your own recordings from everything you’re doing. Are you staying with inside a frame? How is your audio quality going through on the phone? What do you look like? All of these things add up all of these things count.

Matthew Jarvis:   Yeah, but I would say the last action item, as we mentioned earlier, find opportunities to learn from the best, from advisors who don’t have great theories, but who are actually meeting with clients. And who can say, “Hey Jarvis, this is when the client really engaged. And this is when the client disengaged. And this is when I won a prospect. And this is when I lost a prospect. And this is when a client followed my advice and when they didn’t.” Those are the only people I want to learn from, because that’s who actually knows what works. A script may look really good on paper. It might sound really good from the stage when some expert says it. But until you say it face-to-face with a client and you see their face rise or fall, that’s the only time you know that it’s really going to work.

Micah Shilanski:  Amen. Well, until next time, happy planning.

Matthew Jarvis:   Happy planning

Hold on before we go. Something that you need to know. This isn’t tax, legal, or investment advice. That isn’t our intent. Information designed to change lives. Financial planning can make you thrive. Start today. Don’t think twice. Be a better husband, father, mother, and wife. The Perfect RIA. The Perfect RIA.

Recommended Podcast

When Value Adds Go Wrong [Episode 180]

Make sure your value adds go off without a hitch.

See More

Follow Up Friday – The Retirement Income Timeline

Creating clarity and simplifying your communication with your clients.

See More

Worlds to Conquer – Helping Team Members Set Priorities

Setting expectations for priorities for your team members.

See More

Contact Us