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Nail your service packaging and you will gain clients

Brett Davidson looks at how advisers who get the packaging of their services right can make a world of difference to their proposition and gain clients

I’ve written extensively about the issue of packaging up the services you offer your various client segments, but there are still some common issues that seem to be holding firms back from getting this absolutely nailed.

Below are some of the issues and challenges most firms face when trying to perfect their packaging:

1. Understanding their true value

The starting point is actually understanding what you do for your clients. Over and above the obvious services you provide, there are a whole bunch of things that most advisers do, but never tell their clients about.

A good example is “Access to our professional network”. This could include referrals to obvious resources like good quality local accountants, solicitors, estate agents, and mortgage brokers. But if you also have some special connections that few others have, then it’s time you told your clients about them.

One adviser I spoke with recently referred a client to an architect and a builder from within his client base, who then both worked on the first client’s new development.

Another adviser once told me that he referred a business owner client who was thinking of selling his business to a professional negotiator. The guy sold his business for £1m more than he was expecting. That’s value added (not to mention the extra £1m of investable assets he picked up as well).

2. Investigating the subtext of what clients are actually looking for

It’s a major mistake to take what clients tell you they want at face value. I know this sounds like the height of arrogance, and the opposite of being totally customer focused, but it’s not. Let me explain:

Clients do know what they want, but they can’t always express it. Furthermore, they don’t have a clue what you are capable of delivering for them. Clients will never walk in asking for things like Holistic Financial Planning, Life Planning, The Truth About Money, or Outcomes Focused Advice. They don’t know that these things exist or what they entail. So coming up with a new name for Financial Advice won’t fix the problem.

As a good adviser, you have to use your skills to help the client see that whatever they think their issue is, there’s more behind it.

When a client comes in and says “I want some help with my pension”, a good adviser will ask questions that allow the client to recognise the deeper issue. Questions such as “How much is enough?” or “What other assets might form part of your planning for financial independence or retirement?”.

Advisers need to recognise the answer behind the ‘answer’ for clients on a daily basis – it’s just what you do.

3. Capturing 1 or 2 in a tangible way, so the client can ‘see’ and ‘touch’ the quality

To make your packaging really work, you have to capture the first two issues (what you do for people and what they’re really looking for) in a way that reflects the quality of your offer. That means employing someone with design flair who can turn your intangible words and services into something that looks and feels fabulous.

The final output (your brochureware, website or app) “represents” the quality of your product or service, making it tangible for clients.

What happens when you get this right?

By putting together a client proposition, and packaging it in a way that addresses client needs more completely, you actually gain clients. This happens for two reasons:

1. Clients look at your service and think “Lead me to the promised land, finally a financial adviser that deals with the things that have been on my mind”, rather than thinking that you’re a firm who’s just looking to flog financial products.

2. You really believe you have something fantastic to offer people, and it comes through in every conversation you have.

So make sure you’ve nailed your packaging. Getting it right can make a world of difference to your business.

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