arrows falling on men Youneed to be proactive in these situations to try and save therelationship. (Photo: Shutterstock)

|

In the movies, when the background music sounds ominous, youknow something bad is going to happen.  If you have apractice made of individual clients, the background music oftenchanges when they are preparing to jump ship.  If you havebusinesses as clients, a "Request for Proposals" concerning theproduct you are providing currently should get the alarm bellsringing.

|

The warning signs

How does the background music change?  Is it like themovie "Jaws" when the thumping music speeds up before the sharkattacks?  Here are warning signs individual clients oftenprovide:

|

1.      Not returning calls.  Suddenly, youcan't get them on the phone.  Thinking about dating as ananalogy, you know what that means.  They are creatingdistance.

|

2.     Ignoring advice.  They used to follow yoursuggestions.  Not anymore.  "I'll get back to youif I decide to do anything."

|

3.     Complaining.  There's a minor error on theirstatement.  The statement is a day late inarriving.  They challenge you over every fee, large orsmall.

|

4.      Anintermediary is inserted.  This might happen witholder clients.  Suddenly, they are no longer the decisionmaker.  Everything needs to be approved by theirnephew.

|

What can you do to save the relationship?

As the agent or advisor, you know something is wrong. They are upset, but they aren't telling you why.  Considerthree strategies:

|

1.     Immediately initiate a face to face meeting. This applies if the relationship is with an individual or abusiness.  Pick a neutral location.  Meeting overdinner at a restaurant is ideal.  Expect to pick up thecheck.  After food has been ordered and drinks are on thetable (and the server won't be interrupting) say: "Things haven'tbeen good lately."  Stop talking.

|

A torrent of complaint will likely follow.  Voices willbe raised.  Listen.  Don't try to counter theirstatements.  Draw them out instead.  Your turn iscoming.  When the verbal storm subsides, you might calmlymake your points, but here's the most important part. Look them in the eyes and say: "What can we do to goforward?"  Stop talking.

|

Why:  Your client is aware you putyourself in the path of their verbal torrent.  You letthem get everything off their chest.  It's very difficultto say: "No, we can't move forward" or give a reason why they areleaving, when you've brought this out into the open, face toface.

|

2.     Change the focus of communication.  Why is yourclient upset?  They told you: "You only call when you areselling something."  This goes back to the transactiondays before trailers, when you were only paid when you rang thecash register.

|

Your strategy is to initiate non-sales communication. Send educational material.  Use several channels includinge-mail and direct mail.  Do you have anewsletter?  Now the phone as the single point of contacthas been expanded to multiple channels.  Maybe they getinvited to a seminar.

|

Why:  They are hearing from you whenyou aren't selling.  They are learning somethingnew.  You are giving them attention.  Thematerial you send prompts question.  Now they are callingyou, asking for more details.

|

3.      Meet every player.  Relationships oftenhave a single point of contact, the decision maker. Often, their partner is treated as a minor supporting actor, taskedwith delivering your message.  Requests and ideas aren'texplained, because they will likely defer to the decision makeranyway.  This person develops a dislike towardsyou.  They can make the decision maker's lifeunbearable.  "Your agent called again.  I don'tknow why you do business with that woman!"

|

Your strategy involves taking the initiative.  Call ata time you know the decision maker isn't available.  Getthe partner on the phone.  Explain: "We've nevermet.  We need to meet.  Maybe I'm not the rightadvisor for both of you."

|

Meet both of them on their home territory.  Theirliving room is ideal.  Report on their accounts, givingequal or more attention to the partner who feelsslighted.  Research everything thoroughly beforehand, soyou can give detailed answers backed by facts.

|

At the end of your visit, explain decisions should be made basedon knowledge, not emotion.  You will give them enoughinformation to make knowledgeable decisions.

|

Why:  You have shown respect to theslighted party.  Assuming you continue along this path infuture phone conversations, they will likely warm up to you andtone down their criticism.

|

Yes, sometimes clients give warning signs before jumpingship.  You need to be proactive in these situations to tryand save the relationship.

|

Bryce Sanders is president of PerceptiveBusiness Solutions Inc. He provides HNW client acquisition trainingfor the financial services industry. His book, "Captivating the Wealthy Investor" can be foundon Amazon.

|

READ MORE:

|

You can't be everything to everyone — howto define your market

|

10 commandments of timemanagement

|

8 mistakes advisors make when joining aChamber of Commerce

Complete your profile to continue reading and get FREE access to BenefitsPRO, part of your ALM digital membership.

  • Critical BenefitsPRO information including cutting edge post-reform success strategies, access to educational webcasts and videos, resources from industry leaders, and informative Newsletters.
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM, BenefitsPRO magazine and BenefitsPRO.com events
  • Access to other award-winning ALM websites including ThinkAdvisor.com and Law.com
NOT FOR REPRINT

© 2024 ALM Global, LLC, All Rights Reserved. Request academic re-use from www.copyright.com. All other uses, submit a request to [email protected]. For more information visit Asset & Logo Licensing.