Be Assertive, Not Aggressive
In the financial services industry one of the biggest concerns that hurts both agencies and clients is an agency’s concern of being too aggressive. It stops both sales and service team members from:
- Asking questions that might seem too personal
- Following up with an unresponsive client or prospect
- Asking for an appointment or the chance to quote business
- Addressing objections
And at first glance, you may even think this is regarding sales, but in reality, it’s more about service. Every agency makes a promise to its clients or prospects. Typically, that promise is something like promising to look out for that individual’s risks and opportunities as it pertains to their financial health. If clients or prospects simply wanted the cheapest price or knew exactly what they needed they would probably be content to do business online.
Instead, they look to your agency to provide guidance. They don’t want your agency to simply take their order. They want someone that uses their experience and knowledge to point out risks they hadn’t considered. Someone that encourages them to improve their overall financial health and to consider ways to maximize opportunities they may not even know exist.
Think about going to a doctor. Would you want to go to a doctor that saw a risk to your health and didn’t address it because it might seem too personal? And do you appreciate it when the doctor’s office follows up and reminds you when you miss a health checkup?
If they don’t already, your clients and prospects should be set up to see you in the same light as they do their doctor, but for their financial health. When your agency sets this tone with all clients and prospects it not only increases sales but raises your service from average to exceptional.
Being aggressive isn’t the answer, but in an attempt to not be aggressive many agencies swing too far and become passive. The goal instead is to be assertive. Consider the following points:
- Clients and prospects are busy people. When they don’t answer text messages, emails, or phone calls it doesn’t indicate that they are not interested. Typically, if someone isn’t interested, they will tell you. Instead, your team should keep following up with clients. Work with your team to ensure they have language that is pleasantly persistent and not aggressive.
- Intent matters. Keep your client service promise visible in your office and ensure that your team has it memorized. Share your service promise with clients and prospects so they understand your intentions and "why" you and your team are persistent and ask questions. Having intent to fulfill your promise to clients means moving beyond personal comfort zones and overcoming any reluctance to asking questions, setting appointments and handling objections or concerns your clients have. Help your team with the language for helping clients understand "why" it's important to meet, or to explore a topic. For instance:
- “Joe, I know we’ve called you a few times now, but it’s because we know our clients get busy. We promised when you became our client to keep following up with you if we felt it concerned your financial health. I just need 5 minutes to talk with you regarding this matter. If we don’t hear from you in a few days, we’ll give you a call back, because we know this matters to you.”
- “Jane, I know our reviews take time, but we also promised to help you take care of your financial health when you became our client. This annual checkup is an important part of our service to you. If you can’t make it to the office, let's schedule a phone check in, because we want to ensure we deliver on our promise and you have the best service possible.
- Remember, it’s not about you, it’s about the client. It’s a sure sign that if you’re worrying about feeling too aggressive or asking a question that is too personal, you’re focused on your comfort level and not the client or prospect. Remember, they need a professional to help them and that help includes pointing out risks and opportunities that they don’t see. It’s why they are doing business with you.
- Ask permission. When a client or prospect meets with your agency there should be a review of the customer service promise which helps set the tone for the relationship. Then, it’s a good idea to ask the client if it’s okay if your team sometimes sends reminders or ask questions to help protect their financial health. This sets up the expectation that your service is going to be exceptional.
- Be willing to be the expert. Clients/Prospects don’t have the experience that you and your team have in this industry. Even if a team member is new to the industry, there are resources that allow them to understand risks and opportunities in ways that clients/prospects don’t think about. It’s okay to tell a client/prospect that there is something else they need to consider.
Overall, the difference between being assertive and aggressive comes down to a few main points:
- Introduce your clients and prospects to your Customer Service Promise and make sure they know you are committed to working with them to proactively manage their financial health.
- Be persistent in your commitment to schedule reviews and promote solutions that will meet their needs.
- Use language that is pleasant and friendly, but also firm so you'll be seen as the professional that is protecting their best interests.
Providing above and beyond services requires being assertive about fulfilling your promise and results in loyal clients that appreciate the value you bring.