How to Help Clients Understand Your Value Proposition

Beverly Flaxington

Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.

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Dear Bev,

I’m ready to give up. Last year we spent a fortune on training for our team on referrals – identifying the clients, asking for their help and giving them language to explain our value proposition. This year we conducted a client survey since we have been getting no referrals whatsoever. The firm we hired to do it suggested we ask a question to elicit client views on our value proposition. Not one client said what we say! If we need them to know our value prop, but they don’t know it, is this why they don’t refer? The consultant we hired told us that it is about asking – we don’t ask enough. Well, I can assure you we are asking, but we are not getting. Are we actually supposed to train our clients to “sell” our firm? This doesn’t make sense to me, but I am getting increasingly frustrated that we ask for help, spend the money to get it and still don’t have a plan of action that works.

Cody T.

Dear Cody,

Do you have set goals on client referrals? Have you identified who does refer and, specifically, who does not? Are there any themes or trends? It sounds to me like it might be useful to do some investigative work and figure out where your pain points really are – or what is working well. Whenever a firm engages in a new effort like this, I believe that doing a diagnosis and understanding what you want to “fix” is an important first step.

Next, explore your client base. Are they people who can refer? We see a lot of advisors with clients in their 70’s, 80’s and even 90’s who are not necessarily out and about, networking or interacting with others. Or, you may have clients who are geographically dispersed, so easy introductions are not easy. Do you have certain clients that could be a good referral that you could focus on and create a strategy to approach? I have not found it effective in financial planning or wealth management to say, “Don’t keep us a secret,” or, “Tell your friends about us!” l. However, I have found it very effective to identify a handful of clients who could or should be referring and to create a specific strategy to approach each one.

In addition, I would not think of it as needing to train your clients on your value proposition. Perhaps instead you could think about giving clients examples of the types of people you work with, how you work with them and what you can solve. Instead of telling your story as if they are a sales team, your clients should know who to look for, how you can help them and what the outcome will be. You don’t need expensive consulting on this, but I think you might need to reframe the problem and how to go about solving it.