October 1, 2013 by Kristine Garrett
What is customer loyalty? If you search this question online, you will find many definitions and opinions on how to cultivate it. BusinessDictionary.com defines customer loyalty as the, “Likelihood of previous customers to continue to buy from a specific organization.” How likely are previous customers to return to you for financial services? Do you have a plan to keep them coming back?
There are many ways to foster customer loyalty and most are not new. Here are five of my favorite customer loyalty tips to keep customers coming back.
- Make people happy. I love this quote by Derek Sivers, founder of CD Baby, “The single most important thing is to make people happy. If you are making people happy, as a side effect, they will be happy to open up their wallets and pay you.” Enough said.
- Provide superior customer service. Many times I have walked into a business and sworn never to return because of poor service. However, when I experience superior customer service, I become a brand advocate, spread the word and send referrals. Have you ever asked your clients how you are doing? Check out our blog post “What’s your client’s experience?” for tips on soliciting feedback.
- Do more than expected. George S. Patton, considered one of the most successful combat generals in U.S. history,1 said, “Always do more than is required of you.” Take the time to add personal touches: Send hand-written thank you notes, acknowledge birthdays and remember the little things—even if it’s as simple as if they prefer coffee or tea.
- Listen. Principle number seven in Dale Carnegie’s famous book How to Win Friends and Influence People is, “Be a good listener. Encourage other to talk about themselves.” In the financial services industry, this seems especially important. We must understand what clients need (for example, income or legacy planning) before we can propose a solution.
- Keep in touch. Create a client nurturing program to make sure you stay connected with customers on a regular basis. Nurturing not only helps you maintain and build client relationships, but it helps move customers from point A to point B in the buying cycle. To learn more about nurturing, visit our blog post, Nurturing Dos and Don’ts for Sales.
1 “George Patton. biography.” bio. True Story.. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Sep 2013. <http://www.biography.com/people/george-patton-9434904>.
2 Carnegie, Dale. “Golden Book Principles from How to Win Friends and Influence People.” Dale Carnegie Training. Dale Carnegie and Associates, Inc., n.d. Web. 18 Sep 2013. <http://www.dalecarnegie.com/assets/1/7/GoldenBook_English.swf>.
August 27, 2013 by Kristine Garrett
My husband, Scott, and I live on a small hobby farm in rural Iowa consisting of a few unruly acres, a 160-year-old farm house, and a menagerie of animals. I’ll translate that for you: I’m broke and always fixing something.
I have taught myself to be pretty handy. I have a tool belt; I can do some plumbing; and my 18-Volt ½-inch Cordless Nickel Cadmium Compact Drill is my prize possession.
One day I went into a large home improvement store looking for a length of chain long enough to wrap around a fence post, and the gate that holds it closed, because my goats had been escaping.
While selecting the chain, an associate came to my aid. I explained that I needed to have a piece of chain cut. He responded, “Do you have a man to help with this project?” (Remember, I just needed a chain to hold the gate shut.) He then asked how much chain I needed. “Do you need enough to wrap around my arm?” he said showing me the girth of his arm. “Or, is it more like my thigh?” he said, standing on one leg with his other knee in the air. Oh boy . . .
I normally find these situations amusing, and will joke that I’m pretty handy . . . for a girl. It shouldn’t make any difference that I’m a female. I have all the faculties I need to use power tools!
Are you a pretty good financial professional . . . for a girl? According to a survey conducted by Edward Jones, one in five cited the financial services industry as the hardest glass ceiling for women to break through.1
Why is that? Don’t women have all the faculties necessary to excel in this profession? In the survey, which polled 1,010 men and women, 83% of respondents not only agreed that women faced career barriers, but cited a male-dominated environment as the main impediment.
Other obstacles the survey noted were: juggling family and corporate responsibilities; inadequate policies for women; and lack of mentoring and defined career paths.
Fortunately, there are programs available to support and mentor women in this industry. Check out our Women’s Mentoring Agent NetworkTM (WOMANTM). This program is dedicated to helping independent, female financial professionals to develop their practices—in spite of the male-dominated environment—by providing opportunities to network, share, and learn from their peers.
For some great face time with other female financial professionals, join us September 18 to 20 in Panora, Iowa for the WOMANTM Fall Forum. This event gives women the opportunity to discuss relevant topics with their peers; learn what makes other women in this industry successful; and cultivate valuable relationships.
To learn more about this event and the WOMANTM program, visit www.BILTD.com/woman.
1 Edward Jones 2013. Edward Jones Survey Reveals 65 Percent of Americans Agree “Glass Ceiling” Remains a Career Barrier for Women. [press release] June 5, 2013. Retrieved from: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/edward-jones-survey-reveals-65-percent-of-americans-agree-glass-ceiling-remains-as-career-barrier-for-women-210226341.html
July 16, 2013 by Kristine Garrett
If your business mantra is stuck on “recruit,” you may be missing an essential sales element – nurture. While this may sound like something you do to a Bonsai tree, it also applies to relationships. Nurturing client relationships is as simple as taking care of their needs on a regular basis.
When I was in sales, nurturing clients meant you took them out to lunch; dropped off Krispy Kreme donuts; and called them about the latest products available—and “oh, can I bring you a sample?” Then came the internet, email and The Atkins Diet and out went phone calls; face-to-face meetings; and carbohydrates!
Now that clients can visit your website and research products/services online, you’re probably not talking to them as much as you have in the past—making it difficult to maintain and grow those relationships. So how can you nurture them if you aren’t feeding them donuts?
Here are a few Nurturing Dos and Don’ts to remember (Notice I said, “Remember,” because you know these things; you just may need a reminder.)
Don’t give your customers the silent treatment.
When was the last time you talked to your current customers? If you’re not sure and don’t have a plan for regular follow up, it’s time to make one. Dive into your client database, and see how often you are actually communicating with your current book of business. If it’s been a while, it’s time to reconnect. If you don’t, someone else will.
Don’t take business for granted.
You know the customer that you rarely speak to, except when they need something? Every day that client probably has other sales people clamoring for his/her affection. Make sure you are the one they call in times of need by staying in touch.
Don’t get distracted.
Anyone that has been in sales before understands the cycle—prospect, service, repeat. First, you are busy looking for new business. Then, you are focused on servicing that business. Soon you realize there is not much in the pipeline and repeat the cycle. In the meantime, the customers you once worked so hard to get fall to the wayside. If you don’t have a nurture plan, your hard work may be wasted as you slowly lose contact (and sales) with customers.
Do have a strategy.
Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”1 That pretty much sums it up! Make a plan to follow-up with past clients.
Do be proactive.
Create a client profile to help identify your customers’ pain points. Use this to send them relevant information such as webinar or meeting invites on relevant topics—not just what you want to sell them.
Do make your customers feel valued.
It’s not price. It’s not product. The reason customers leave? It’s more than likely that they think you do not care about their business. They were not nurtured. If they were a Bonsai tree, they would be kindling! Show your customers you care—send a hand-written thank-you note, or find ways to save them money without being asked.
To help you learn how to nurture client relationships, click here to read a previous blog post about getting to know your clients.
Check out our website at www.biltd.com for more sales and marketing tips!
1 Benjamin Franklin. (n.d.) Benjamin Franklin Quotes. In Brainy Quote. Retrieved June 18, 2013, from http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/b/benjaminfr138217.html.
July 11, 2013 by Kristine Garrett
If you knew the key to capturing a portion of the largest emerging market in the world, how could that information benefit your business?
In this article, you’re going to learn who that market is and the key to reach them based on a study by Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America.
Who is this market? Women.
Women make up the fastest growing group of consumers worldwide,1 and are involved in most of the financial decisions in the home.2 Research supports those statements, but if you gave it some thought, you might come to the same conclusion.
In your home, who decides what doctor you visit; what detergent you use; or the brand of cereal on the kitchen table? In fact, who bought the kitchen table? Chances are, it was a woman who made these decisions and purchases.
Women are responsible for an estimated 85% of consumer buying decisions.3 We aren’t just talking about small buying decisions either. The Allianz “Women, Money, and Power Study” states that 49% of women say they have a great deal of responsibility for making major financial decisions.4
You would think that businesses would be flocking to cater to a market this size with so much financial decision-making power. However, this is an area where the financial services industry falls flat.
The study also “found that women were more dissatisfied with the financial services industry than any other that affected their daily lives.”1
Wow! How can it be that an entire industry is failing so miserably to connect with women? They must be missing the “key.”
What is the key? Communication.
According to the study, “The key to acquiring and retaining female clients is effective communication.”4
A woman seeking help from a financial professional needs someone to help her feel financially secure. To do that, you must know how to speak to her.
The study discussed four crucial things to understand before effectively communicating with women:
- Why you should target female clients;
- How life events influence decisions;
- Why you need to communicate with women differently than you communicate with men;
- Who women are financially.
These topics will be the subject of the next four installments of this series. We will walk through the study’s results, and help you learn how to better connect with this financially affluent group.
Click here to download the Women, Money, and Power white paper.
1 Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America, “The Allianz Women, Money, and Power Study: Empowered and Underserved” (2013) available at http://www.biltd.com/CarrierMaterial/Allianz/ENT-1462-N_FINAL.pdf.
2 Prudential Research Study, “Financial Experience and Behaviors Among Women” (2010-2011), available at http://www.prudential.com/media/managed/Womens_Study_Final.pdf.
3 The AIO Group, Mass Affluent Women Buyers, 2011.
4 Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America, “Help your clients find solutions that fit.” (2012) ENT-324-N
March 8, 2013 by Kristine Garrett
It’s a good thing I’m giving up pop for my New Year’s Resolution because I just read that you need to run two miles to burn off a bottle of Coke.* The only way I’m running two miles is if there is a giant shoe sale at the finish line.
How are you doing on your 2013 Business Resolutions? Last month I gave you a 30-Day Business Resolution Challenge. I challenged you to spend at least 5 minutes a day on the Brokers International, Ltd. website (www.biltd.com) viewing our “anti-resolution breaking” content.
Did you accept my challenge? The Brokers International, Ltd. (BI) website has the tools you need to help support your business year round. By getting familiar with the information provided, it can make some of your day-to-day tasks easier.
For example, our new Search & Compare tool let’s you quickly and simply enter your client’s annuity criteria to search and compare a wide range of options such as strategies and rates or minimum guarantees. Plus, after completing your search, you can request a quote for one or all of the options with the push of a button. Best of all, you can take the Search and Compare tool with you everywhere you go by accessing the web tool from your laptop, tablet, and even your mobile phone. Click here for a short introduction.
Now, while you spend some time checking out the site, I think I hear a pair of Italian leather wedge-heel pumps calling my name.
February 8, 2013 by Kristine Garrett
If resolutions were easy to keep, I would have given up pop years ago.
I’m not the only one that struggles to keep resolutions either. According to Steven Covey, by this time of year one-third of people have already fallen off the resolution wagon.*
Why do so many people break their resolutions?
Rory Vaden, a self-discipline expert and New York Times bestselling author says it basically comes down to a lack of self-discipline.** A survey conducted on his behalf found you are three times more likely to keep your resolutions if you can stick with it for the first 30 days.***
That’s good news! If you can just get past the 30-day hump, you are 76% more likely to keep your resolutions.
So, I have a 30-Day Business Resolution Challenge for you.
Over the next 30 days, I challenge you to spend at least 5 minutes a day on the Brokers International, Ltd. website (www.biltd.com). The website is packed with “anti-resolution breaking” products and services to keep you motivated in 2013 like:
- Annuity Product Search & Compare
- New Business Forms
- Carrier Materials
- Marketing Minute Videos
- Program Information
The website is designed as a tool to make your workday easier. So, clear a few minutes from your calendar each day. Check it out and see how many minutes it saves you in return by providing resources at your fingertips!
And remember, with a little self-discipline you can grow your business . . . and I’ll start drinking water!
*HULIQ. (2012). New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Last Long, Survey Finds. http://www.huliq.com/12092/new-years-resolutions-dont-last-long-survey-finds
***Kelton (2012). Rory Vaden New Year’s Resolutions Survey. Kelton: NewsWorthy Analysis.