Results From Client Engagement Think Tank, Part 2

Who are your target prospects?

When you bring on a client, what’s the process? How do you decide whether you accept a prospect as a new client?

If you are like the advisors we spoke with, there is surprisingly little relationship between the answers to these questions.

At the think tank we convened in Boston in conjunction with FPA Business Solutions 2011 we asked both questions. In response to the target market question, we got pretty much the answers we were expecting – prospects described in terms of demographics, income level, profession, or investable assets. We then wanted to know whether these target characteristics appeared in questions during an initial interview. Whether advisors used checklists or similar device with prospective clients. We wanted to know – did they stick to their own standards? Once they have established what and “A” client is, where they consistent in excepting only “A’s”?

Then we asked those advisors about their client on boarding processes, and the answers caught us offguard. When we posed the question “When you get to the point of deciding whether to accept a prospect as a new client, how do you decide?” We got answers totally unrelated to the description of their target markets. We heard adjectives like feel, fit, comfort, or personality attributes like “delegator” “they buy into our process” “they followed up on advice” “they did not raise strong objections to our fees.”

In short, the decision over whether to work with the new client related entirely to the quality of the relationship and have little or no relationship to what advisors told us they were targeting.

This raises a number of questions for us. What is an “A” client really? How can advisors update their client on boarding processes to assure that they are primarily bringing on “A” clients? How do we redefine our target markets to include what we are really looking for in prospective clients? Maybe our concept of a target client is incomplete. I will offer an alternative possibility on defining our target markets in my next post.

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