I am thrilled to have Susan Weiner offer us this guest post. Bad writing keeps you from getting clients, and following Susan’s guidance, from her blog to her new book, can help you be more persuasive and connect with prospective and current clients. Now, here’s Susan…
By Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Be kind to your clients when you correspond with them. Make it easy for them to grasp your message and act on it. This is especially important when you request a favor of them, such as making an introduction to a LinkedIn connection or serving as a reference. This client-friendly approach will yield better results. I have four tips for making such requests more effective.
Tip 1. Use a strong subject line.
The key to getting your email opened is an effective subject line. For an introduction or reference request, focus on the action with a subject line. For example: “Introduction to Jane Smith?” or “Know Joe Jones well enough for intro?” or “Serve as reference for me?” I like posing a question in the subject line because it communicates that you’d like a reply.
In addition to action items, consider including deadlines, if any, or WIIFM in your subject line. For example, if you seek an introduction prior to an upcoming conference, you could say, “Introduction to J Smith prior to Sept. conference?” You might introduce WIIFM (What’s In It For Me from the perspective of your email’s recipient) by asking “Help me with intro to J Smith?” of a client who has shown a desire to promote your services.
If you write a letter rather than an email, you can use a version of the subject line in a “re:” line below the letter’s address block and above the “Dear” line. However, this isn’t necessary if your letter uses the next tip.
Kick off your email by stating your request with one sentence or a short paragraph. It might go something like this:
Do you know Joe Jones well enough to introduce me? If so, I’d appreciate your forwarding this email with a request that he take a phone call from me.
It’s courteous to ask if your client is comfortable making the introduction. They have colleagues, friends, and even family members whom they’d feel awkward introducing for reasons that have nothing to do with you. Also, today people have LinkedIn connections with whom they’ve never exchanged anything more than a LinkedIn connection request. In my experience, my connections haven’t benefited when I’ve introduced them to other connections whom I don’t know well.
If you’re asking clients to serve as reference, something like the following might work:
May I offer your name as a reference when I contact [insert names] to see if they’d be interested in some of the services that I provide to you?
I know that advisors often open their emails and letters with pleasantries, rather than getting down to business. However, your clients are busy. By quickly sharing the main point of your email, you make their lives easier. That seems to me like the highest form of pleasantness. Also, you can include the social niceties at the bottom of your email.
Tip 3. Make it easy for your clients to act.
When your client can simply forward your email with a one-line addition, they’re more likely to grant your wish than if a complicated email exchange is required.
To ease your clients into action, you should provide just enough information to make them comfortable about what you’ll do with the introduction. After the Joe Jones introductory paragraph in Tip 2, you might follow with something like this:
You and Joe both share [insert name of shared characteristic that’s important to your niche]. I think he might enjoy learning more about [insert name of a solution that you offer and that your client knows]. As you know, this technique [insert explanation of the WIIFM].
Your letter should include only information relevant to your introduction request. This means your client can forward it without any edits or deletions. Don’t, for example, include references to your client’s personal or financial secrets.
Tip 4. Before you start writing, think about whether an in-person request or phone call would work better.
Making an introduction or acting as a reference means your clients put their reputations on the line. You might gain valuable feedback on your client relationship if you make your request in an interactive format.
Be clear, concise, and convey the benefit
The keys to effective client emails and letters are to be clear, concise, and show how the communication can benefit everyone involved.
Susan Weiner, CFA, is the author of Financial Blogging: How to Write Powerful Posts That Attract Clients, which is tailored to financial planners, wealth managers, investment managers, and the marketing and communications staff that supports them. Read her blog or follow her on Twitter, Google+, or the Investment Writing Facebook page.