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Successful client engagement starts with a realization that clients need to stay in control of the relationship.  This simple statement allows you to remember that an engagement is often about making the client’s lives better.  To accomplish this you need to check with your clients to make sure the path they’re on is one of interest to them.

It’s easy in a professional service relationship for the advisor to take control of the relationship.  Your clients might engage you because of a specific specialty or expertise you have.  This often means a client wants help in achieving a particular outcome.  It doesn’t mean they’ve signed up to be told what you think is best for them.  (Although sometimes you have to do this anyway.)

Smart advising starts with understanding.  I love Steven Covey’s statement, “first seek to understand before being understood.”  A good question leads to deep understanding.   If we don’t have clarity about what our clients’ are trying to do there is no way we can be effective in helping a client achieve a positive outcome.

Sometimes clients have a hard time letting us know what it is they want us to help with.  Having a process that takes clients through a series of questions often moves you towards a deeper understanding of what the client wants to accomplish.

Make sure you have an understanding of your clients mission in life.  Most clients don’t have a personal mission statement.  That doesn’t mean they can’t have a definable sentence that easily communicates what’s important to them and the important people in their life.

My belief is that helping a client develop a clear mission in their life is an important activity for us.  Once both you and the client understand what their mission is, it’s easy for the client to keep control of the work that you do together.

Eliminating jargon only shows respect.  I’m a jargon hater.  And, at the same time, I sometimes fall into using jargon with clients.  It’s important that you speak in plain English using words that your clients understand. 

Your clients don’t really care how smart you are.  They are interested in how you can help them achieve an outcome.  Using jargon doesn’t do anything in helping an outcome be achieved.  In fact, jargon often leads to a confused client and nothing gets accomplished.

Limit the choices you present.  I find that when I’m presented with a significant number of choices, I often don’t do anything.  Limiting the amount of choices you present to your clients is a good thing.

After all, if you’ve done a good thing with the items above, you should have a clear understanding of what the client wants.  Once clarity is achieved, the solution should become obvious.

I’m interested in any thoughts you might have for how you help clients stay in control of a relationship.  Please contact me at Jpatrick@stage2planning.com or click here to set a time to talk.

Josh Patrick

I’ve put together a report on The 7 Myths of the Private Business Owner.  I encourage you to click on the button below to download the report.  If you’re an advisor to a private business, you can learn some land mines to avoid.  If you own a business, you will learn some of the misconceptions that your advisors may have about you and your business.


Securities and Investment Advisory Services offered through NFP Securities, Inc. (NFPSI), Member FINRA/SIPC. Stage 2 Planning Partners and NFPSI are not affiliated.

This article is published for residents of the United States only.  Registered Representatives and Investment Adviser Representatives of NFP Securities, Inc. may only conduct business with residents of the states and jurisdictions in which they are properly registered.  Therefore, a response to a request for information may be delayed.  Not all of the products and services referenced on this site are available in every state and through every representative or advisor listed.

Topics: mission vision values and goals, communication, Client Communication, business relationship management, people who care, vision, Customer Service

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