We know what we must do to achieve great success in this business: acquire a lot of expertise, work hard and always put the client’s interest above our own. But sometimes, it’s the little things we do that make a big difference and help guarantee our success.
For example, the other day, I heard this from one of my clients, an advertising executive: “Barjes, next time you come to my office, please do not wear a suit. You look like someone from the IRS and it weirds people out.”
But I still remember the days when wearing a suit every day to see a client was considered “professional.” The thinking was that not wearing a tie or a jacket, or maybe wearing a pair of chinos, was too casual for a meeting. However, as most of us know, wearing a high-end suit doesn’t denote professionalism. What does show professionalism is being presentable in the eyes of your client, and understanding their goals and objectives.
Discussing insurance and other financial issues can be an uncomfortable experience for many consumers. When they feel comfortable with you, it will be easier for them to discuss these topics. Because of this, I’ve made it a habit to scan my calendar a week in advance of a meeting to determine what I should wear, based on the person I will be seeing during that meeting. I also try to schedule my “fun” clients for one day, my “professional” clients for another, and my retiree clients for a day that I can dust off my wingtips.
But I do not always follow this rule. For example, I recently showed up again in a suit at the office of the advertising executive I mentioned earlier because I had a corporate meeting right after his meeting and couldn’t avoid showing up in a suit. He just gave me the “side eye.”
Other Factors To Success
Looking the part will only get you so far. One thing that maintains confidence with success is limiting the number of your commitments.
This is not always an easy thing to do. Sometimes we are in back-to-back meetings all week and it’s difficult to prepare for each meeting. So we try to avoid being unprepared by limiting the number of commitments we have each day.
Our appointments are more successful when we are prepared for them. To help in the preparations, we set aside Mondays for meeting preparation.
This allows us to not only look at what is in store that week, but to also look at what is in store two weeks out.
It is also a good idea to let your clients know when you are running late for a scheduled meeting. This shows that you value the client’s time and you are running late mainly because of circumstances beyond your control.
In addition to calling ahead, you should also return client calls and respond to their e-mail messages in a reasonable amount of time. I make it a point to return all e-mail messages.
Being organized also will help you succeed. Keep checklists of what needs to be done and keep your papers in order. When you reach into your bag for something, make sure the bag is well organized. I once read that everything a client sees tells a story of how you run your business.