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How to Host an “Un-Networking Lunch”

September 28, 2017

In my first and second parts of this 3-part series, I covered why you should be hosting your own Un-Networking Lunches and who you should invite.

Now I am going to show you everything else you need to know to execute your first lunch, and how you can leverage this strategy to acquire more clients for your business. Read to the bottom of this post for a free PDF highlighting the entire process for getting your first Un-Networking Lunch off the ground!

WHERE AND WHEN

Once you have confirmed interest from folks in your network, it’s time to pick a great spot to host the lunch. You’ll ideally want to select a restaurant that has a private dining room (almost all of them will allow for this). (If you are located in North America, OpenTable allows you to search for private rooms in many regions.)

Let locale dictate your restaurant choice (you can indulge your foodie habits on your own time). If, like me, you live in a widespread city, choose a central location that is easy to get to.

You will also want to confirm the restaurant can accommodate separate checks. This reinforces that everyone is there by choice, to add value, and without obligation.

I recommend starting at 11:45. Starting before the noon rush should make it easier for your guests to park and get settled in.

Alternatively, you can host the lunch at your office if you prefer (or there aren’t any good private rooms in your region). However, if you do this, I would cover the bill.

Finally, it’s time to pick a date and send out your invitations. Ideally, you will have between 6-12 professionals attending your lunch, so you should plan on sending out 10-20 invitations.

IT’S SHOWTIME

By now you may be asking, “What actually happens at these Un-Networking Lunches that makes them so effective?”

Every Un-Networking Lunch I have hosted has been unique in some way. They don’t always go as-scripted, but they are always valuable.

As the host, your primary function will be facilitating a roundtable discussion in which each attendee introduces their business, current areas of focus, and anything they could use help with.

I typically give each person 5-7 minutes to address the group (pick a time allotment based on the number of attendees), and suggest they cover any or all of the following:

  • Their name and their business
  • A description of their ideal client/opportunity
  • A recent success story, or problem they helped resolve
  • How the group can identify potential opportunities for them
  • What types of professionals share the same clientele
  • Any events/causes they are currently involved with
  • Other organizations they are involved with (boards, charities, etc.)
  • A few personal details (family, hobbies, etc.)

This framework will keep everyone on the same page and give them a common language to speak throughout the course of the lunch.

At a minimum, each of your guests will leave with new connections and a desire to help you because you made this happen. In addition to providing an excellent forum for members of your network to connect and develop lasting relationships with each other, these lunches will give you a great opportunity to introduce (or reintroduce) your business to all of your guests.

Many of the people in the room will know about your business and how they can identify a good opportunity for you, but even if you have communicated this to them in the past, it’s always beneficial to reinforce your value proposition.

However, the main reason why my lunches work is that I am primarily focused on adding value for professionals in my network and making sure they connect with others in a meaningful way. The new connections made and their lasting impact will prove to be incredibly valuable for all of your guests – all thanks to you.

And just like with Bob and Mark from my first lunch, they will be eager to invite their colleagues to the next one.

THE GIFT THAT KEEPS GIVING

After hosting your first lunch, you will see how easy they are to execute, and how valuable they are for you and your guests. Now, I want you to understand how you can leverage these lunches to get in front of more ideal prospects for your business – prospects you likely would not have met otherwise.

On average, over 80% of my lunch attendees invite someone new to attend a future lunch. But let’s assume that number is only 50%. Here’s the breakdown:

  • First lunch: 8 participants (all existing contacts) = 4 new contacts for you
  • Second lunch: 12 participants (8 originals plus 4 referrals) = 6 new contacts
  • Third lunch: (ideally spread over two lunches): 18 participants = 9 new contacts

To summarize, you will put yourself in a position to interact with 19 brand new prospective clients and COIs over approximately four lunches.

If you are already planning to attend four 1:1 lunch meetings over the next couple of months, hosting Un-Networking Lunches will allow you to meet almost five times as many people, with almost the same time commitment. (By the way, you will gain 13 new introductions during the next round if you keep it going.)

The great thing about hosting these lunches is you are in control, especially when it comes to how often you plan them. I have hosted as many as nine lunches (for 90 people) in one month, but you will end up with similar results (number of new connections) regardless of your pace.

YOUR TURN

I hope you see the benefits – for you and your key relationships – to be had by hosting Un-Networking Lunches and hope you are inspired to take action.

To make it easy for you to host your first lunch (and hopefully many more), I have put together the Un-Networking Lunch Playbook, which includes email templates and resources, to make this as turn-key as possible for you.

To get it, click here and it will automatically download to your computer or mobile device.

If you decide to put this into action, I would love to hear from you. Good luck, and let me know if I can help.

 

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Why You Should Hold An Un-Networking Lunch

September 19, 2017

In my last email, I told you about the success of bringing two people in my network together over a lunch meeting, and how that led me to organize a lunch with ten professionals shortly thereafter. This larger-format lunch eventually came to be known as an “un-networking lunch,” a particular style of event that I’ve perfected over the years.

WHY UN-NETWORKING LUNCHES?

This single strategy has completely replaced the 1:1 lunch model I was inefficiently utilizing for years. I have now hosted over 500 “un-networking lunches,” and they have been one of the primary ways for me to effectively get in front of more ideal prospects while increasing the quality and quantity of my professional relationships.

Regularly bringing together remarkable professionals in your network offers many benefits, which include:

  • Creating value for your network by connecting clients and COIs (Centers of Influence) who can become resources for each other
  • Meeting new COIs and ideal prospects who you likely would not have met otherwise
  • Having an opportunity to introduce (or reintroduce) your business to new and existing connections (which should lead to acquiring new clients)
  • Becoming the go-to resource in your market

These are just a few of the benefits to be had from hosting these lunches, and I haven’t even mentioned the most valuable one yet.

ONE-TO-MANY

“Un-networking lunches” will allow you to develop and deepen relationships with 5-10 times as many professionals without allocating more of your time or money to this activity.

If you currently have one lunch meeting per month, you are only meeting or staying in touch with 12 professionals each year. It’s likely you will have 12 attendees at your first lunch!

If you are already planning to allocate two hours of your time to having lunch with a COI or client, wouldn’t you rather spend that time with twelve professionals?

Having hosted hundreds of these events, I can assure you that they are neither hard to organize or expensive to run. For each lunch, you will only need to invest $15 (to cover your meal) and 2.5 hours of your time (including the two hours for lunch) to yield a massive impact on your network and your business.

WHO SHOULD YOU INVITE?

The success of your lunch will correlate directly with the similarity of the quality and intentions of the professionals you invite.

The first thing you need to do is assess your current network and determine who would benefit from connecting with each other.

When inviting guests, focus on professionals who have similar roles and are in complementary industries. If you are in sales, bringing together other sales professionals who sell to similar businesses makes sense. Just don’t expect a CEO to derive value from this group.

As a Financial Advisor, I started by inviting a handful of my business owner clients, some additional COIs (accountants, attorneys, bankers, etc.), and a few other looser connections I wanted to get to know better.

If you are going to invite successful and influential professionals as I do, you’ll want to keep in mind they may have negative feelings about networking and the possibility of being pitched.

From day one, I wanted these lunches to be an environment where people showed up looking for ways to help others (as opposed to pitching their products or services).

To make sure I didn’t unwittingly create a pitch-fest, I established a 3-part criteria for determining the types of people I would invite: 1) they were good at what they do, 2) they had the ability to help others, and 3) they had a willingness to do so.

If you create an environment made up exclusively of people wired like this, great things will happen.

CONFIRM INTEREST

As with most things these days, you don’t have to put forth any effort until you know it is something people want. In my next email, I am going to share the exact process I use to execute an “un-networking lunch” from start to finish so that you can host one in your area. In the meantime, you should begin to think about who you would like to invite and consider gauging the interest of these individuals.

First, you should assemble a list of 10-15 people you believe would benefit by attending a lunch.

(Ideally, you would also benefit by their attendance.)

Then, send an email letting them know that you’re considering hosting a lunch to connect the remarkable professionals in your network with one another and ask them if this would be of interest.

Here is the email I use. Go ahead and send it – I promise you will get a resounding “Yes!” from almost everyone.

More in the next email…

It gets even better.

EMAIL TEMPLATE

Name

Lunch Overview and Invitation Template (one combined email)

Goal

Introduce concept and gauge interest

Subject

Are you available for lunch?

Body

Hi {{ first_name | fallback: “there” }},

 

I am in the process of planning an “un-networking lunch” as a way to efficiently and effectively connect the remarkable professionals in my network with one another. I am only inviting those who have a successful business and who value developing mutually beneficial relationships. No lead exchanging or pitching will be taking place.

 

While you (and the other guests) will have an opportunity to introduce your business, current areas of focus and/or anything you could use help with, all I ask is that everyone shows up with a focus on how they may be able to add value for the other attendees.

 

The lunch will be dutch-treat (separate checks) with approximately 8-10 carefully selected professionals. 

 

Let me know if this would be of interest and I will circle back to find a good date based on everyone’s availability. I promise this will be a good use of your time and I am excited to introduce you to other people in my network who can impact your business. 

 

Let me know if you have any questions or concerns.

 

Cheers,

 

[NAME]

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How To Supercharge Your Referral Relationships

September 14, 2017

I recently realized that my business is generating over $300,000 in annual recurring revenue from one unique source of clients.

Every dollar of that $300,000 is generated from individuals who had no interest in my services when we first met.

These people did not magically appear in my office ready to do business with me. I wasted a lot of time and energy meeting new people until I created a structure for making this process easy and predictable.

But before I get to that, let me tell you where I was several years ago…

IT ALL STARTED WITH A TYPICAL LUNCH

I’ve always been of the opinion that one of the best ways to add value to my network, while positioning myself to get more introductions to ideal clients, is by developing and deepening relationships with referral partners and centers of influence (COIs). (Centers of Influence are individuals who can boost your market access and credibility through referrals, testimonials, and word-of-mouth.)

Earlier in my career, I typically met COIs by way of introductions from clients or from networking. When I met a seemingly worthwhile connection, the typical  follow up was: “Let’s grab lunch or coffee to learn more about each other.”

These meetings are a great way to develop and maintain relationships with centers of influence (COIs) and referral partners, but you have to take a long-term approach and put in the time. When you are in the early stages of growing your business, you should be developing relationships with as many CIOs as possible. However, an hour and a half is a big time commitment when you have a full plate.

I had arrived at a point where I was spending the majority of my time servicing existing clients and working on my business. I had significantly less time to keep up with my existing network in a meaningful way, let alone the time to develop new relationships. As my roster of clients expanded, I needed to find a more efficient way to meet new people.

At that time, one of my clients had suggested I meet Bob, their estate planning attorney. He apparently did great work, and so I agreed that an introduction would make sense.

Bob emailed me proposing we grab lunch at some point to learn more about each other. This seemed like a good idea, but there was a problem. I could barely get together with my existing COIs as often as I would like, let alone make the time to develop new relationships.

Then something very cool happened…

Almost immediately after hearing from Bob, I received a serendipitous email from Mark. Mark was an accountant I had known for years and it had been awhile since we connected in person. Mark wanted to know if I had time in the coming weeks to schedule our long-overdue lunch.

Then I started thinking…

KILLING TWO BIRDS WITH ONE STONE

I thought, I should see if Bob wants to join Mark and me for lunch. Combining these lunches into one would allow me to deepen my relationship with two professionals in the same amount of time I was planning to spend with just one. Plus, it could be beneficial for them to meet each other.

I asked Mark what he thought, and he agreed it was a great idea.

The day of the lunch arrived. To my delight, the two of them hit it off right away, and Bob had an immediate opportunity for Mark. We all walked away having drawn value from the meeting.

After we parted ways, they both reached out and told me how incredibly grateful they were that I organized the lunch, and asked how they could help me.

Given how beneficial it was to host a lunch that brought together two people in my network, I started envisioning the potential power of a larger lunch.

I emailed each of them and suggested we do it again next month, but that we should each invite 2-3 other professionals to join us. We invited a mix of existing clients, COIs, and a few prospects.

The end result was nothing short of spectacular. In my next email, I’m going to share exactly what I did and how powerful these lunches can be for your business.

In the meantime, if you routinely grab lunch with COIs to explore synergies and deepen your relationships, you should consider inviting a third wheel to join you next time – especially if you think the two of them will connect in a meaningful way.

If you liked this post and and think a friend or colleague could benefit from it, please feel free to share it with them!

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(Unintentionally) Smart Marketing

July 6, 2017

I did something today I haven’t done in 10 years – I applied for a retail credit card.

Now, before you write me off as a sucker, I’d like to explain myself and highlight an important concept I’ve been preaching.

I went to Nordstrom Rack to buy a few pairs of jeans, and while checking out, the cashier gave me the typical pitch:

Cashier: “Are you a Nordstrom Cardholder?”

Me: “No.”

Cashier: “Would you like to apply for membership. You…”

Me: “No thank you.”

Cashier: “We are offering a $40 credit and 0% for…”

Me: “I’m good – thank you.” (It could have been 0% for eternity, and I would have still said no.)

Cashier: “You will get exclusive invitations to our private trunk shows, and there is no annual fee.”

Me: “I’m good.”

Cashier: “Okay. But are you aware that we provide unlimited free alterations?”

Me: “Wait. What did you say?”

Cashier: “As a cardholder, you get free alterations. And not just on things you purchase here. You can bring in clothes you purchased elsewhere, and we’ll do those as well.”

Me: “Wow. Ok, sign me up.”

Considering the alterations on the jeans I just purchased were going to run me at least $50, it was a no-brainer . In fact, I recently spent $500 on alterations (I’ve been on a roll at the gym).

I recently wrote about how I acquired many new clients who were not in the market for my services when we met. The key lies in getting on the radar of your potential new clients by providing benefits that typically have nothing to do with your core service or offering.

Not only was I indifferent to a new card, but I would have told you that you could bet your life’s savings on me not applying for a credit card that day. However, given how much I spend on alterations, signing up for a Nordstrom credit card was a great deal.

They disrupted my indifference by offering something on the fringes of their primary offering that was appealing to me. This perk got me to sign up for a new card, and I’m sure it is a great way for them to retain existing cardholders while avoiding the problem with Passive Loyalty.

Ironically, the free alterations perk was the fourth benefit the employee mentioned to me while touting the benefits of the card.

That got me thinking – a lot of people would not have stayed in the conversation as long as I did because they aren’t as patient as I am. (HA! Who am I kidding? She just caught me on a good day.) I wondered why she didn’t mention this first.  

When I returned to my office, I went to the Nordstrom credit card website to see how the free alterations perk was positioned on the feature list. It wasn’t even on the primary page! Here’s the screenshot:

As you can see, it was nowhere to be found. I actually had to Google “Nordstrom Card Alterations” to see information on this benefit.

Since this is a credit card, Nordstrom/Visa thinks they will get new customers by highlighting their primary features. Like most businesses, they are burying the lead.

As I’ve said before, there is likely a very small market, if any, of folks who will leave their existing provider for you based on lower fees or better service. The benefit that wins them over almost always has to be a benefit that is completely independent of your core service.

For me, it is all about creating events and experiences for my clients to share with their friends. For the Nordstrom/Visa bank credit card, they are offering free alterations.

What do you do or offer that is different than your competition? Are you offering any benefit that is completely independent of your core service as a way to get the attention of prospective clients?

If you liked this post and and think a friend or colleague could benefit from it, please feel free to share it with them!

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Here’s My #1 Client Acquisition Strategy. What’s Yours?

May 17, 2017

client acquisition strategyThe last time you heard from me, I shared the idea that traditional referrals are dying (or dead). I referenced a study which revealed that referrals are at an all time low for financial advisors, and I suspect they are low for most other professionals as well. This study led me to do an audit of my existing client base to determine how I was acquiring new clients.

This review revealed that I am currently generating over $300,000 in annual recurring revenue from clients who were not in the market for my services when we first met!

Before I tell you how I acquired these clients, let me share the process that led to this discovery. Try this for yourself and see what patterns you notice.

  • Open up a new Excel spreadsheet and make a list of all the clients you’ve acquired over the past five years.
  • Put their names in one column, and how you met them in a second column.

If you have never done this, I highly recommend investing 15 minutes towards this activity.

When I reviewed the data I compiled in the spreadsheet, I realized that hardly any of my clients came through a traditional referral (the prospective client asking my clients for a recommendation, or my clients encouraging them to meet with me).

Almost all of these new client relationships came as a result of me doing something special for my existing clients – often where they could include their friends.

Client Appreciation, in one form or another, has been my best form of business development.

Over the years I have done this in a variety of ways, including hosting events like wine tastings, networking lunches, golf outings, lunch and learns, and sporting events, to name a few.

But the most effective thing I have done that has led to acquiring new clients did not involve me hosting an event. It was inviting existing clients to events which featured great speakers and attendees while giving them the opportunity to invite someone from their network to join us.

So, how do you put this into action for your business?

To start, identify events featuring speakers who will share information that is relevant to a particular client. If you work with business owners, it could be a keynote, a panel discussion on sales, or a topic related to HR. For retirees, it could be a seminar on how to use modern technology more effectively.

When you invite a client, let them know the invitation is for them and a guest of their choosing.

I mentioned earlier that I have $300K of recurring revenue from clients who were not in the market for my services when we first met. In some cases, my recurring clients had tried and failed to get these same people to meet with me.

While they weren’t interested in exploring a professional relationship with me, many of them were interested in the topics presented by Seth Godin and Dan Pink (two of the many speakers I have invited clients and their guests to hear). They were grateful that I made it possible for them to learn from these speakers. And they also realized their current advisors weren’t creating these experiences for them.

These experiences have led to some of my client’s guests becoming clients of mine right away. Most of the time, it simply got me in the game, and I was able to convert them into clients over the weeks or months that followed. And there are times, of course, when these guests do not become my clients, but they were still a huge win from my perspective.

Creating these shared experiences will, first and foremost, deepen your existing client relationships and increase the likelihood they will continue to be happy clients. And in an era where traditional referrals are declining, these experiences can be a great way for you to acquire more amazing clients.

What are your thoughts on using strategies other than traditional referrals to successfully acquire new clients? Share your comments below.

If you agree with my client acquisition strategy and think a friend or colleague could benefit from it, please feel free to share this post with them.

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Are Referrals Dead?

April 18, 2017

For most successful trusted advisors, referrals from existing clients and strategic partners have been the primary driver of growth for our practices. Many advisors would also claim that referrals continue to be their #1 source of growth.

Are you one of them?

If so, is it because you are getting more introductions than you can handle, or because you do not engage in other forms of business development?

Are Referrals Dead?

In a recent article from Michael Kitces, The Death Of Referrals And The Future Of Business Development For Financial Advisors, he shared some results from the latest Investment News 2016 Financial Performance benchmarking study that may surprise you. (Even though this article speaks specifically to Financial Advisors, I believe is it highly relevant for all trusted advisors.)

Primarily, for the first time, non-referral business development is now driving more growth than all client and professional referrals, combined. In fact, only 1.8% of growth for the average advisory firm came from client referrals last year.

There are a number of reasons why referrals are down, and I don’t believe they are coming back anytime soon. Here’s why: Early in your career, you probably worked with a younger clientele who were experiencing big life events (getting married, having babies, etc.) that required the services of a financial advisor. These clients referred you to their friends who were in a similar position.

It’s likely that these happy clients introduced you to the majority of their network during the first few years of your relationship. At some point, all of your clients will have referred (or tried to refer) everyone that seemed like a good fit.

Assuming you now have a more established practice, as a result of your clients earning more money and paying you more money, you likely aren’t interested in working with new families or folks just beginning their professional journeys. An ideal introduction for you right now is probably someone with more complex issues (and more cash to pay for your services).

The problem is these folks are likely already working with one of your competitors, and the odds are good that, at a minimum, they are content with the services they receive (i.e. they are passively loyal). Unless they are really dissatisfied, they aren’t asking their friends for referrals and aren’t open to making a change no matter how much your clients sing your praises.

Manufactured Referrals

You may be wondering where you should focus your efforts if the good old days of receiving steady referrals are over. While there are plenty of viable alternatives, the study referenced above showed no clear cut solution. To give you a few ideas to consider, the top four strategies advisors are focusing on in 2017 are community involvement, TV/radio appearances, hosting networking events, and volunteering on non-profit boards.

One of the options not listed in this report is manufactured referrals (probably because it is a term I made up three months ago). If you agree that traditional referrals are dead (or dying), you need to think of creative ways for getting on the radar of ideal prospects you would not otherwise meet. Doing this effectively will be a game-changer for your business development efforts. Before I give you some ideas, I think it’s important to clarity what I mean by a traditional referral.

The process of receiving a traditional referral usually happens in one of two ways:

    • Someone asks one of your clients or strategic partners for a recommendation.
    • Your clients and strategic partners proactively recommend you to their friends and colleagues.

It’s great if you have clients who love you and want to recommend you, but if your current strategy is for them to ask their friends if they are willing to meet you and learn more about your services, you need to understand this approach will yield you very few if any, introductions.

If you are like me, almost anyone worthy of being a great new client for you is already working with another advisor. And at a minimum, they are satisfied with their current provider. (If they were unhappy, they would actively be looking to change.)

The key to getting more introductions to prospective clients is to create reasons for your existing clients to connect you with their friends that have nothing to do with your core services. These reasons can include things like hosting events (big or small), attending events, and creating great content (just to name a few).

To illustrate how this works, here a few questions your existing clients could ask their friends and colleagues that could lead to you being introduced to them:

  1. “My banker is amazing! Would you be willing to meet him to learn more about his services?”
  2. “My banker is hosting a wine-tasting event for a handful of his best clients and is allowing us to bring a guest. Can you join me?”
  3. “My banker invited me to hear Malcolm Gladwell speak at XYZ Venue next week and gave me an extra ticket. Can you join me?”

Unless there is someone actively looking to make a change, no one will say “yes” to Question #1. Conversely, think about how many people would jump at the opportunity to drink amazing wine, or to learn from a bestselling author.

Hint: It will be a lot because these invitations have nothing to do with your services, or whether or not they are looking for a new advisor. They will, however, get you in front of a lot of people you otherwise would not meet, which will give you an opportunity to eventually show them why they would be better off working with you.

If hosting or attending events is not your thing, there are other strategies to consider, and I will be sharing more of them over the next few posts.

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How to Effectively Keep In Touch with Prospective Clients

April 11, 2017

In a previous post, I introduced the idea of “Passive Loyalty” and the likelihood that the majority of your ideal clients are currently working with your competition, but they are indifferent towards them at best.

There are a number of highly-effective ways you can get on the radar of these folks to disrupt the indifference they have towards their current provider.

Before I share some tactics for attracting these ideal prospects in your pipeline, there may be an opportunity within your existing database to explore. And it starts with a confession.

I once followed up with a prospective client 30 times over a three-year period. I met this person, let’s call him Jim, at a golf tournament and we hit it off. Jim asked about my business, and then, while handing me his card said, “Shoot me an email. I’m not in love with my existing Financial Advisor and may be looking to make a change soon.”

I followed up with Jim a few times initially suggesting we get together, but the timing wasn’t right.

Jim wasn’t thrilled with his existing advisor and knew that I was likely a better option, but his current advisor was good enough. I know now this was a classic example of passive loyalty.

The silver lining is that he (like many people we meet) asked me to “keep in touch.” If you are like me, you have met a number prospective clients (whether they knew it or not) who weren’t interested in hiring you initially but asked you to follow up in the future.

My process back then was to communicate with them every 30 days, usually via email. These emails were primarily used to offer help and were typically void of anything concrete (i.e., “Hope things are good with you” and “Let me know if now is a better time to get together.”)

Despite almost never working, I sent 100’s of these types of emails.

One day, a few years after meeting Jim, he replied to one of my “check-in” emails where I had asked him what was new by telling me about his new sports car. I said, “Congrats!” and made a note to follow up with him again in a month.

Later that day during a meeting with a new client, we were reviewing their auto insurance policy. (Even though I am not licensed to sell auto insurance, it is something we review for all of our financial planning clients.)

This client, like most people I come across, had a glaring hole in their policy. They had the minimum amount of something called “Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage.” (In case you are interested, Uninsured Motorist Coverage protects you if you’re in an accident with an at-fault driver who doesn’t carry liability insurance. Underinsured Motorist Coverage kicks in when you’re in an accident with an at-fault driver whose liability limits are too low to cover the damage or medical expenses.)

Essentially, if you are in an accident that is not your fault, with a driver who is not adequately insured (or uninsured), you are screwed. Our clients have always appreciated us for pointing this out, especially since no one else has previously brought it to their attention.

I then realized the real possibility that Jim’s advisor had never discussed this with him. I sent him an email to ask if he had the right type of coverage on his new car. Long story short – he did not. He was grateful that I brought this to his attention and equally concerned as to why his other advisors failed to do so.

He replied by saying, “Okay, we need to get together. Who knows what else my advisor has failed to notice.”

Jim has now been a loyal client for over 5 years.

The reason my email to Jim worked as well as it did (even though it was the 30th email I had sent to him) was because I was suggesting something that would not generate any revenue for me. You can send relevant and useful emails that directly pertain to your core offering, but they are not nearly as effective as sending something on the fringes.

If a real estate agent sends you an email with a new listing, it seems self-serving (even if it’s sent with the best of intentions). If the same real estate agent sends you an email about how to title your existing home properly, the perception is they are purely adding value.

If your communication efforts with some prospects have gone stale, consider providing them with ideas and tips for things outside the scope of your services (especially if it’s likely they don’t hear about it from their current advisors).

I’ll be back soon with some effective strategies you can use to grab the attention of your competitors’ passively loyal clients!

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How Many Clients Will You Lose This Year?

March 11, 2017

How Many Clients Will You Lose This Year?

Each year, author Rohit Bhargava shares his thoughts on the trends that will shape business and consumer behavior in the coming year. Non-Obvious 2017: How To Think Different, Curate Ideas and Predict The Future, is another excellent addition to his series of books as it includes many thought-provoking predictions.

The one that stood out for me in this installment is what Bhargava calls “Passive Loyalty.” I think understanding this concept will present you with two types of massive opportunities for your business.

Reviewing Your Client Base

A recent report for the automotive insurance industry from consulting firm McKinsey showed there was “a significant number of customers who are loyal in name only…they remain with their carrier more out of inertia than satisfaction.”

Another research study cited in Bhargava’s book on the nature of passive vs. active loyalty dubbed this phenomenon as a consumer’s “state of inertia.” It concluded that “a passively loyal consumer might buy the same brand for 5 or 6 time periods out of inertia (‘lock-in’), but after that, she is likely to include other brands in her consideration set.”

The first opportunity you have, which is the primary focus of his prediction, lies in turning passively loyal clients into actively loyal clients before they leave. The best place to start is by performing an audit of your current client base. How many of your clients are passively loyal, as opposed to “Raving Fans”? If you have a hard time making this distinction with certain clients, you should probably assume they are passive.

I agree with Bhargava in that “The business opportunity is to operationalize ways to transform these people…into being actively loyal instead.”

From Passive to Active Loyalty

Once you have identified your passively loyal clients, there are a number of things you can do to convert them. If you provide certain services that some of your clients are not taking advantage of, now would be a good time to remind them of all you offer. A good example of this is when your credit card company proactively contacts you with suggestions for ways you can use your points. If you aren’t using the points you accumulate, you’re not getting the full value of being their customer. Motivating you to use your points is one way of increasing the likelihood you won’t jump ship to a competitor.

I think the best thing you can do right now is to reach out to your clients via a quick call or email. There are questions you can ask to gauge how they feel about you. You can also pose questions that will allow you to provide them more value going forward.

One example Bhargava suggests is, “If we could keep your business for the next two years, what would we need to do?” You may also consider asking “The Ultimate Question” (as referred to in the next paragraph). This will help you get your Net Promoter Score for each client. These types of questions can help you get a feel for who is actually loyal and who may be taking their business elsewhere in the near future.

Regardless of your industry, you can be more valuable to your existing clients in a variety of ways that have nothing to do with your core offering. Being that we just started a new year, I like to ask my clients “The Ultimate Question.” This is where I call clients and ask them what their biggest area of focus is for 2017. I also ask what opportunities or challenges they are facing this year.

Their answers could lead to you being a resource for them by way of ideas and introductions. Of course, this leads to more active loyalty.

Our Huge Opportunity

While Bhargava focused primarily on identifying and converting our passively loyal clients, I am even more excited about the opportunity we have to get on the radar of our competitor’s passively loyal clients.

The majority of your ideal clients are likely passively loyal towards their current provider. The bad news is that most of them are comfortable (for now) and indifferent to making a change. The good news is they would be quick to make the switch once they see how much better it could be with you.

I think finding ways to effectively disrupt the indifference of these prospective clients is the key to unlocking massive growth for your business over the next few years. I am going to be sharing ideas and strategies around this idea over the next few weeks.

In the meantime, I’d love to know your thoughts. Are you able to identify who among your clients is passively vs. actively loyal? What are some of the things you do to increase retention and actively loyal clients?

Let me know in the comments below.

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Can Tidying Up Really Be Life-Changing?

June 4, 2015

tidyAfter seeing a variety of posts and articles about The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, I decided to see what all the fuss was about. It had been on the NYT Bestseller List for 24 weeks (30 as of this writing), but still, I was skeptical about how “life-changing” a book about getting organized could be.

Turns out the book is excellent.

Kondo’s approach to tidying up your space includes techniques that are both logical and emotional. She suggests that focusing on specific locations is a fatal mistake, because most people tend to store the same type of item in more than one place. Instead, she recommends tidying by category. For example, instead of deciding to clean by room or drawer, focus on clothes, then books, etc.

She believes one of the reasons most of us fail to tidy up effectively is that we focus on what we want to get rid of, not what we want to keep.  She says the best way to choose what to keep and what to throw away is to take each item in your hands and ask: “Does this spark joy?” If it does, keep it. If not, dispose of it.

The bottom line is I am a believer! Melanie and I have been implementing Kondo’s process over the past couple of weeks and so far, we have produced 25+ bags of donations/trash. Not only is our physical space less cluttered, but I am noticing some other benefits as well – like more clarity and better decision making.

Rather than write a detailed review here, I decided the best way to get you into this book is to pass along a link to my notes. I still recommend reading the entire book, but this will give you most of the essentials.

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Intentional Working and Living: Beyond Productivity Tools

January 29, 2015
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