Dallas—“If we are going to develop the reputation we want within the affluent centers of influence, we need to raise our game,” Robert told me. “What do the elite teams you’ve coached do that sets them apart?”

Robert had asked what I refer to as the proverbial $10 million question. Where is that magic bullet? What is that one thing I can replicate that will take me to the next level? We are asked questions of that nature all the time. And the reality is that there is no one simple answer. Every advisor’s practice is different and every advisor is at a different place with his career.

As I explained to Robert, it’s the little things, that attention to detail in every aspect of managing client relationships. That said, there are eight fundamental truths that every advisor can follow to elevate their practice:

1. First, you must clearly segment your client base. I know; you’ve heard this until you’re blue in the face, and now most firms have the tools to do most of the work for you. However, for many advisors, knowing the breakdown of their client base and doing something with that information are often worlds apart.

2. Identify the clients that are driving the lion’s share of your revenue. This might adhere to the 80/20 principle, and it might not. Regardless, it is important to know exactly where your money is coming from.

3. Profile these top clients thoroughly. You want to know as much about their families as possible; their preferred beverage when they come to your office for a scheduled review, their passion points so you can strategically surprise and delight them throughout the year.

4. Assess the professional quality of all the wealth management solutions you’re delivering to your top clients. Not only do your services need to perform “as promised,” they need to be presented in a manner that exudes top-level professionalism. And there is a different twist to this with today’s affluent; less is now more. In other words, get rid of those telephone-book-thick pitch books, the two-inch-thick financial plan, etc., and use as few pages as possible with simple terms that are easily understood.

5. Determine their preferred mode and frequency of contact. You never want your top clients to get the feeling that they’re being contacted in a mechanical manner. Everything must be personal and in the manner and frequency they prefer.

6. Schedule a “top client” socializing calendar. Our research is clear on this point; if you have a business and social relationship with your affluent clients, you have up to three times the center-of-influence penetration. In other words, you’re strengthening the relationship to such an extent that you’re able get more personal introductions to highly qualified prospects.

7. Assign areas of responsibility among your team members. For instance, someone is responsible to make certain all the beverages of choice are on hand for every top client in-office meeting. Someone is assigned to prepare all the review documents in the new and improved abbreviated format. Another person (could be the same) is responsible for organizing and delivering the two or three scheduled “surprise and delight” touches throughout the year. And whoever is the primary relationship manager is scheduling socializing interactions throughout the year.

8. Develop a clearly defined problem-solving process—who solves what, identifying the smaller problems that can be resolved on the spot, major problems that need to be followed up, and problems that only the primary relationship manager can resolve. This is a critical area for two reasons: 1) Problems will occur, and 2) Resolving a problem quickly and communicating the process clearly is the number-one criteria for strengthening the loyalty of your affluent clients. However, a word of warning—multiple problems are the top reason affluent clients will begin looking for another advisor.

Obviously, there are a lot of blanks to fill in throughout these fundamentals. One of the largest involves defining your service model relative to how you’ve segmented your client base. I’ve seen advisors who readily explain how they segmented their client base, yet become speechless when asked how they’ve aligned their service models to their top two client segments. Why only the top two? Because that’s the preferred number of service models identified by our elite team research.

Whether it’s the simplicity of the statements you provide, or walking clients out to their cars after appointments, it’s the little things that make the difference.

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