Two Routes To Compelling Value

March 31, 2015

by Dan Richards

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Low-cost alternatives for financial advice and investing are forcing advisors to articulate why clients should pay a premium to do business with them.  This week’s article features two different approaches that could help you communicate your value to prospective and existing clients.

These approaches work because they speak to concrete and specific outcomes that will leave clients better off, addressing the pitfalls that many advisors encounter when they attempt to “communicate their value.”

Why you’re not communicating your value

Of course, to communicate your value you must have clear value to communicate. So delivering compelling value is the first step. But just delivering superior value isn’t enough. There are three reasons why advisors who deliver good value may struggle to get their message across:

  1. They fixate on things that clients take for granted

I recently talked to an advisor who used a template from a fund company to develop a long list of things that he does for clients. He posted this list on his website and shared it with clients in meetings. Among the items he listed were returning phone calls, sending out duplicates of tax information and mailing out monthly statements.

These, like other items he included, are things that clients take for granted, meaning they don’t perceive value from them. It’s like a restaurant telling you that part of thir value is providing clean cutlery and air conditioning. The restaurant owner pays for these things and may therefore believe that they deliver value. But to customers, these are simply costs of being in the restaurant business.

By fixating on what clients take for granted, advisors undermine the more meaningful things that they provide

  1. They focus on process instead of client outcomes

Look at a typical advisor’s website and you’ll often see a graphic outlining the multi-step process that he or she uses to help clients achieve their goals. In The Toughest Conversation with Clients,I explained why making your process the primary focus of communication is a mistake. What motivates clients is how they will be better off from working with you. They are only interested in your process to the extent that it supports the outcomes that you claim to deliver.

  1. They fail to differentiate themselves from other advisors

The third trap is a lack of differentiation. In Getting Past ‘Blah Blah Blah’ When Talking to Prospects, I described a conversation with an entrepreneur who interviewed three potential advisors to work with after selling his business. He was impressed by them all, but was also struck by the similarities of what they discussed. He ultimately selected the one advisor who differentiated herself by getting into specifics of how she had helped other clients in situations like his.

Getting your story across

Knowing the importance of getting clients to perceive your value, I was struck by two recent articles that took slightly different approaches to this challenge.

The first was by award-winning New Jersey advisor Debra Taylor in Horsesmouth.com. Debra outlined how she and her team had prepared a one page summary of all the things they do to make clients better off. They use this with clients to identify issues that they should cover at client meetings. In her article, Debra explained how this chart has helped engage clients and get them talking about important issues. The chart from Debra’s column is reproduced below.

Compelling Value

Source: Debra Taylor; All Rights Reserved

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