Advisors and their staff love to stereotype their clients. Without even realizing it, most firms segment their clients based on communication style using a crude method of stereotyping. While this segmentation is informal, it 100% aligns to the four fundamental client communication styles. Below is a guide to the four most common client communication styles and how to serve them based on their common stereotypes. Any seasoned advisor will agree that these tips can save your client relationship.
1. The Engineer: By far, the most common stereotype I hear is “the engineers”. Many firms will avoid engineers at all costs. But for firms that have mastered communication to engineers, this is their bread and butter business. The key many firms use when training new staff is: “don’t you dare show up to a meeting for an engineer without doing your homework.”
Tips for working with “The Engineer” (The information focused)
- Make the meeting have structure, provide an agenda ahead of time.
- Provide research to back up recommendations. Give them space to review the research and contemplate options. Ask leading questions to draw them out beyond simple yes/no options.
- Follow-up the meeting with additional resources to educate themselves and a to-do list as “homework”.
2. The Talker: The “talker” can be a potentially great referral source, but they sure can do a number on your calendar!
Tips for working with “The Talker” (the Lifestyle focused)
- Make the meeting fun and inspiring.
- Swap stories of influential people that share a similar situation.
- Follow-up the meeting with a phone call, even invite them to a social event. Everyone likes the life of the party, or at least wants to hear what they’ll say next.
3. Mr. or Ms. Guarantee: Averse to risk, Mr. or Ms. Guarantee cant stand the thought of losses and immediately jump to the worst case scenario. They wont like the idea of complete uncertainty and will often ask for written guarantees and whole-heartedly compare their performance to benchmarks. They need continuous reminders to stick to their plan and that slight ups and downs are normal.
Tips for working with “Mr. or Ms. Guarantee” (the Stability-focused)
- Make the meeting relaxed. Use a coffee table or living room type setting.
- Reference past experiences and make recommendations accordingly.
- Follow-up the meeting with a phone call AND email about next steps.
4. The Hardheaded: “Do as I do, not as I say”. The hardheaded have a view of the world that every rule is intended to be broken. These clients are the best selective listeners in the world and will interject on a dime to keep the discussion focused on their self-centered plans goals.
Tips for working with “The Hardheaded” (The goal-setting focused)
- Make the meeting formal and focus on how you will meet THEIR goals for returns.
- Be prepared with a sample big picture plan.
- Afterward, follow-up with an email or text summarizing the discussion.
Following these guidelines will keep most client experiences on the right path to success. But if you ever find you can’t quite find the right fit, either try a mix of the options above, or there are tools and training available to support your needs.