Eight Mistakes To Avoid When Taking on a New Client

Every business needs to grow. This means prospecting and onboarding new clients.

1. Wrapping up the meeting immediately.

You remember what some lawyers were taught: “The moment the judge says not guilty, close up your briefcase and leave immediately. Don’t hang around.” Problems can develop if the prospect thinks this is a transaction with a winner and a loser.

Problem: If one party is smiling and getting away as quickly as they can, they might feel they have been conned.

Instead: Stick around. Congratulate them on making a good decision. Confirm what you will be doing. Explain what happens next.

2. Not reading back the order.

This was touched on above in “What happens next?” It is important the client completely understands what they agreed to. When confirmations come, they might call back and say: “I never agreed to that” or “I thought we agreed to sell this but not that…”

Problem: The client can make the case for unraveling all or part of the order. They might refuse to pay. They might elevate their complaint.

Instead: Although they agreed when you said something like “Can we proceed with the plan” you want to review specifically what will happen. As pieces of the plan are implemented, call and keep them updated.

3. Not providing documents you promised to send.

They have agreed to become a client. They signed plenty of papers. They asked “Can I get a copy of those papers?” You agreed. Maybe they wanted historical performance figures for a manager or fund. You agreed, but did not write it down. It falls through the cracks and never gets done.

Problem: The new client does not feel you really value the relationship.

Instead: Make notes on things you agreed to do. Ideally this is done by e-mail at that moment, copying the person on the team who is responsible. Follow-up to confirm the paperwork has been received by the new client.

4. Calling back because you are missing a signature.

You left without getting the paperwork completed. Perhaps it is earlier in the relationship, and you forgot to get certain data for their financial plan. You can back, saying “I need something else…”

Problem: They think you are scattered and disorganized. Perhaps you are not the advisor for them.

Instead: Get it right the first time. Bring an extra copy of the paperwork. Use “sign here” stickers and arrows. Arrive with a list of financial planning questions you need answered.

5. Becoming silent in the weeks after they become clients.

Insurance products often have a “free look” period. It might be 30 days. It might be shorter. It is sometimes called the cooling off period. This allows the new client to change their mind they choose. Some insurance agents drop out of sight, not wanting to “rock the boat.”

Problem: The client thinks: “Did that really happen? Did something fall through the cracks? Why is no one in touch?”

Instead: Keep in touch, letting them know what is happening in the background and when their first account statement will arrive.

6. Suddenly becoming unavailable.

The head of the team solicits them as prospects. “Call me anytime.” When the client calls, there are directed to a junior team member who explains they are the new point of contact going forward.

Problem: The new client thinks “bait and switch.”

Instead: Explain up front how different team members have different responsibilities. Things get done quicker if they speak with the person responsible. They can talk with you, but this might take dime. You would then be redirecting their request to the team member responsible.

7. Dramatically changing the frequency of contact.

Everyone has heard the joke about the guy being given a tour of Heaven and Hell before dying. Heaven seems boring, Hell looks like fun. He dies, goes to Hell and it’s horrible. When he complains, the devil says: “Before you were a prospect. Now you are a client.” The prospect might get lots of attention before they commit. In fundraising, this is a reason why some prospects never transition to becoming clients. They like the cultivation phase.

Problem: The new client feels all your talk about service was a sales gimmick.

Instead: You need an onboarding process that continues contact to integrate the new client into your client base.

8. Not calling to review their first statement.

Years ago, a manager explained: “Clients might ignore their account statements, but every client pays attention to the first statement.” Sometimes, a security is not priced. Not everything transferred over from the old to the new account. The account numbers are different. Clients are unsure which is which. They get anxious.

Problem: The new client thinks: “Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all.” They might also think: “These new guys are disorganized.”

Instead: Call when the new statement should be arriving or is available online. Walk them through the statement.

Some people think of prospecting as scoring conquests. Once the prospect signs on the dotted line, it is “mission accomplished” and onto the next prospect. You can win the sale and lose the client.

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