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Beginning, middle  and close
Beginning, middle  and close

Sep 01 2023 / Round the Table Magazine

Beginning, middle and close

Whether your meetings are in person or virtual, a process can make them more impactful.

Topics Covered

In-person meetings start by greeting clients with a handshake and end with another handshake and sending the client away with a packet of literature and forms to fill out. Those two experiences are missing from a video conference, which concludes with the awkward disappearance of the headshots from the screen upon clicking the “leave meeting” button. An advisor presumably will follow up with an email, thanking the client or prospect for their time and recapping what was discussed with a summary. Yet, Dana Mitchell, CFP, CLU, a nine-year MDRT member from Toronto, Ontario, Canada, created a process that fills in those virtual voids and makes her video sessions more productive and impactful.

“I think being really purposeful about however you’re engaging with clients and prospects can be a real game changer,” Mitchell said.

As the pandemic created a new normal in client-advisor interaction, Mitchell asked prospects what their communication preferences were, and many picked video conferencing. So, her practice created a client onboarding document, basically a fillable PDF, that is sent before scheduling the conference with instructions to answer the questions about personal and financial information. 

“You want to make your initial time together as valuable as possible, and I don’t want to waste it by asking, ‘What are your kids’ names? What’s your birthday?’ Those type of questions. So, if you send those to me in advance, that’s the initial handshake, and there will be way more value that comes out of the middle of that meeting,” Mitchell said.

She did have qualms initially about whether prospects and clients would take the time to look at the PDF, but to her delight, even high-net-worth individuals are completing and returning it — that is the virtual handshake for beginning the client relationship. So, what replaced the end-of-meeting handshake and sending the client with “stuff” to take home that will remind them that they need to finish the paperwork? Mitchell mimicked that experience by sending email with links and attachments.

“What we created was a meeting recap, and it’s like, ‘Here’s what we talked about. Here’s what you’re supposed to do; here’s what I’m supposed to do; these are the future considerations that we parked on the side, and this is when we’re going to meet next,’” Mitchell said. “That’s how we follow up with the clients, and that’s the handshake at the end of the meeting. It’s changed a lot, but our business is growing because of it.

We meet and greet everyone with a big bulletin board where we have their name, welcoming them.
— Marc Silverman

Home office advantage

Whether meetings are virtual or in person, advisors would do well to have a purposeful process for those sessions. Marc A. Silverman, CFP, ChFC, a 39-year MDRT member from Miami, Florida, USA, looks at his in-person client meetings as time where his practice has the “home office advantage.” One staffer is designated as the meet-and-greet person — Silverman calls her “the lady of first impressions.”

“We meet and greet everyone with a big bulletin board where we have their name, welcoming them. We used to make hot chocolate chip cookies every day. We stopped that with the pandemic, but we know what kind of coffee they like and what drinks they like because we made a record of all that,” Silverman said. 

Strategically placed in the waiting area that can catch the visitor’s eye is a book stuffed with thank-you notes and endorsements from clients. During the meeting, Silverman will dictate notes about the discussion into a smartphone app in front of the client.

“I’ll say, ‘David, would you mind if I dictate my meeting notes in front of you? And if I’ve made an error, please stop me and let me know.’ The notes come back to me right away. I edit them — we use E-Z Data Smart Office — and they get posted and disseminated throughout my office for the staff,” Silverman said. 

Before the client leaves the office, the designated greeter hands the visitor six business cards. “What we say to them is, ‘Please don’t keep us a household secret.’ And so that’s what I do to promote us as we go along.”