Tips for Effective Client Meetings
Think about the last movie you enjoyed. The Martian? Bridge of Spies? Whatever the movie, the thing that set it apart was a coherent, engaging plot. Even if it has the best actors in the world, without a solid sense of where they’re going and how they’re going to get there, that movie is ultimately going to be a failure.
If we don’t understand the conflict, or if we don’t understand why the protagonist is vested in reaching their goal, it’s hard to enjoy the story being told.
In a sense, we can think of meetings like movies. Successful meetings are often defined before the meeting ever begins. You need to know what you want to accomplish and what you want your client to take away from it. Additionally, your client should know that as well.
There are three simple techniques you can use to have more efficient meetings with your clients.
Start with a plan. If you’ve ever sat through a meeting and came away from it unsure of its purpose, chances are that the meeting didn’t have a plan.
A plan is essential to an effective meeting. Entering a meeting with an outlined plan allows you and your client to know and touch on key points. That way, you aren’t wasting either of your time.
As you develop your agenda, start with the end in mind. Come up with a short phrase that explains what you hope to achieve. This should be a single, short sentence. The purpose is to identify what’s essential to the meeting and what might not be necessary.
When you sit down with your client, start the meeting by outlining what you hope to achieve. That way, both you and your client know where the meeting is going.
Listen to the client. We all know the famous adage: “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” Now, in the context of a meeting, you’ll likely have to speak a fair amount, and that’s not bad. But you also should capitalize on every opportunity for your client to speak.
The purpose of your meeting is to help your client. Because of that, you should listen to what they feel is most important, and when you do offer your guidance, ask for feedback at every opportunity. That way, you can learn how you can help them.
It’s also a great idea to bring in a second team member, like a junior advisor, to take notes. While your client is sharing with you, you can give them your fullest attention instead of double-checking to make sure you legibly wrote down their last comment.
Make sure you follow up. After the meeting, compile your notes into actionable steps. Summarize what’s next with your client. Your CRM is a great place to keep this type of information so it’s accessible by everyone who needs it at your firm.
Make sure to include specific timelines and deadlines; you’re more likely to meet concrete milestones. Use the timelines and deadlines as a means for following up.
Once your team is on the same page, you should send your steps to your client. After all, they are just as much a part of the financial plan as you are.
Additionally, be sure your technology makes it easy for you to schedule meetings and follow up with clients. Beyond your CRM, your portfolio accounting solution can also enable you to better communicate with clients. With the right tech, your client can even request a meeting time by text; a request that’s automatically handled through an integration between Orion’s Client Portal and your favorite calendar scheduling app. At a minimum, though, your Client Portal should help clients keep in touch and let you know if they’d like to meet outside of regularly scheduled times.
The convenience of the Client Portal can extend to during meetings as well, as you can use the reports and web screens to look through updated, accurate data with clients while you’re meeting face-to-face.
A strong relationship is created through consistent communication. When you meet with clients, you’re creating the plot of the story that you’re writing together. That plot will tell you the where, when, and how of what you want to accomplish, as well as strengthen the lines of communication necessary to reaching those goals.