Let's explore how providing Ritz-Carlton service to your top clients can be a high-impact Rainmaking activity. Our research has informed us that each of your top clients, over the course of your professional relationship, should be responsible for bringing six clients with a similar profile into your practice. Here's the first step in that process:

Boston, MA - "I know I provide tremendous service to my existing clients, but my goal this year is to bring in 15 new ideal relationships and I don't even know where to begin," said Michael. "What exactly is the first step?"

Unbeknownst to Michael, he had already begun. Our research indicates that if your affluent clients like you as a person, trust you as a person (and like and trust are not always synonymous), and respect you as a professional relative to their needs today (you are their go-to financial coordinator), they will bring 6 similar-profile clients into your practice over the course of your professional relationship. Obviously this is an average number; some affluent clients will become an internal advocate and provide up to 10 new relationships, while others perhaps no more than two.

Armed with this bit of research, I asked Michael the following question: "Do your top clients like you, trust you and respect you as a professional?"

Michael didn't hesitate to respond, "Of course. I work hard to make sure they do." Michael had planted the seeds for penetrating his affluent clients' centers-of-influence by serving them extremely well. Now his challenge was to cultivate those seeds, letting them grow into introductions to friends, family and colleagues of his top clients.

Think about your practice and your top 25 clients. Imagine if each of them allowed you to penetrate their centers-of-influence and were, on average, responsible for introducing you to six new clients of similar profile. Imagine how that would affect your business. Sounds pretty good right? This is what we refer to as the acre of diamonds in your back yard.
Providing Ritz-Carlton service to your clients can assist in all of the following:

  • Uncovering names of friends, family and colleagues
  • Earning client loyalty
  • Penetrating their centers of influence
  • Uncovering "surprise and delight" information about your top clients
  • Understanding your top clients' financial objectives and goals

So how do you provide the high level service your top clients want and expect? How do you get them to like you, trust you and respect you as a professional relative to their needs today? The most important thing is to know your client! Know everything you can about him or her- not just her financial information and "bottom line." Understanding your top clients must be part of your DNA - knowing what makes them "tick".

This process should begin early on in the relationship. The first step is to establish a new client interview and profiling process. Many future decisions will be made based on the information you gather and the client profile you create at the initial interview with a new client. Our Defining Financial Needs, Goals, and Priorities worksheet, which is offered at the end of this newsletter, is designed to assist you in getting to know your client.

Now, you'll be tempted to just give the worksheet to your clients and ask them to fill it out. You must resist that temptation! Quality face-to-face interaction will build trust with your affluent clients. There is no shortcut.

You should use the Defining Financial Needs, Goals, and Priorities worksheet in an interview type setting and provide them with a copy--but make sure to work through it with them so they understand what you're asking. Note the client's responses along the way. Using this worksheet will enable you to learn three things about your client's level of emotional involvement in his or her financial matters:

  1. Going through the list of goals and priorities will tell you what the person has carefully thought through versus what he or she is reacting to simply because you asked.
  2. You will also learn much by observing the client's efforts to establish high, medium and low priorities as you walk him or her through a list of 26 items. If the client assigns a high priority to everything, you may sense some tension. If the person distributes the 26 items thoughtfully between at least high and medium, you will probably sense less tension.
  3. When you go through the list of present efforts, you will be able to compare what the client has already implemented with what his or her goals and priorities are. The wider the gap, the bigger task it will be for you to help that person address his or her needs, goals and priorities.

When you factor in what you discover about the client's sources of wealth and his or her investment philosophy, you will find that this interview has given you a solid foundation for shaping a relationship of trust with this client as you use this information to select and explain the solutions you recommend.

Ultimately, if you use the Defining Financial Needs, Goals, and Priorities worksheet properly and consistently with your top clients, you will be able to earn their trust and gain their respect, and they'll probably like you for it! Do this, and you will begin cultivating the acre of diamonds in your back yard.

Please visit Defining Financial Needs, Goals, and Priorities for a free worksheet to use in your practice. Also, if you brought in 10 or more $1 million-plus clients over the past year and want to participate in one of our current research projects, visit 2007 Rainmaker Best Practices.
Once again, we want to thank all of you who have emailed comments and questions to us. We will continue to do our best to answer each one. If you have any topic suggestions or special requests, please contact Rich Santos, publisher of Registered Rep. and Trust & Estates magazines, at rich.santos@penton.com.