As a financial advisor engaging new business, you’ve already done the heavy lifting: You successfully converted a prospect to a paying client. Now it’s time to make good on your promises of exceptional service. But depending on how long you’ve been an advisor, this next step in your delivery of services can be an uncertain one.

Financial advisors who do the upfront work to present their best self during a first meeting can ensure that they will make a great first impression and solidify the relationship. Here are seven ways to get ready for a successful first meeting with a new client:

  • Plan a “getting prepared” session before meeting.
  • Be ready to engage the client in small talk beyond finances.
  • Check to see if important paperwork is needed.
  • Plan to introduce your team to new clients.
  • Have a stash of client goodies available.
  • Remind clients of their meeting day and time.
  • Plan to ask questions, but listen more than you talk.

Plan a ‘Getting Prepared’ Session Before Meeting

Take concrete steps to get prepared before the more detailed client meeting. Review the topics in advance that you want to cover at the first meeting and your client’s priorities. Go over what information is to be shared and outline in advance what the client can expect from you. Now is not the time to fumble the ball, and you still want to present your best, most organized self during the initial meeting with paying clients. They may still be unsure about your ability to deliver, and if you take the time to assemble an agenda for the first meeting, it shows you are an advisor who does research and comes ready to perform.

Be Ready to Engage the Client in Small Talk Beyond Finances

Some clients may want to get right down to business, but others may prefer to chit-chat for a while before getting into the specifics. What better way to show your clients that you’ll pay attention to their needs than by learning about some of their interests and hobbies, their alma mater or connections you have in common? Reviewing your clients’ LinkedIn or Facebook pages can shed light on topics that might be of interest to them. You don’t have to be stalker-like in your approach, just subtly bring up subjects in conversation that you know will help build rapport and ease anxiety.

Check to See if Important Paperwork Is Needed

If you happened to miss a step during a client’s onboarding and intake, be sure to have any paperwork, engagement letters or transfer forms at the meeting (if in person), or even better, send it via email to your client prior to the meeting. Let the client know that there are some housekeeping items to take care of and include that as an item on the meeting agenda. This step will show the client that you’re on top of things and want to close the loop.

Plan to Introduce Your Team to New Clients

This step is often overlooked. Make sure you introduce any team members to your new clients, so that they have a point of reference. When clients reach out with questions, they will then know who they are communicating with. Let clients know what role each team member has, so they can get familiar with the way the office functions. If you are planning to have someone join the first client meeting, be prepared to explain to the client why they are there.

Have a Stash of Client Goodies Available

Many firms have either migrated back to the office or are maintaining some kind of hybrid setup. If you’ve done your homework, you have an idea of what types of refreshments your clients like. You can add this step under “client preferences” on your onboarding checklist. Advisors who are hosting in-person meetings can shine here, with small gestures that show you pay attention to the fine details that put the icing on a solid client experience.

Remind Clients of Their Meeting Day and Time

As obvious as this sounds, clients miss appointments all the time. Make a note in your customer relationship management system to send out a reminder. A calendar scheduling tool, such as Calendly, sends reminders out automatically. Bonus tip: Set up reminders to go out both 24 hours before and one hour before the meeting via email and text. That way, if your clients are not checking their email, the text messages will be harder to miss.

Plan to Ask Questions, But Listen More Than You Talk

You can print out a list of questions to help you dive into the conversation with your new client. However, it’s more effective to memorize a few key questions that you can naturally insert into the discourse. You don’t want the meeting to feel like an interview. Rather, guide the conversation toward financial topics that will answer your questions. Then, sit back and let your client do most of the talking.

Thorough preparation for your first meeting with a new client, whether that takes place in person or virtually, will give you a better chance of establishing the strong rapport that is the foundation of solid client relationships. After you’ve followed the steps a few times, they will become second nature. By taking the guesswork out of meeting with your clients for the first time, you can focus on the details that make all the difference in executing a great client experience.

Remember, clients may forget some of your advice, but they will never forget the way you made them feel. A successful first meeting plants the seed for a more memorable, productive and long-term client relationship.

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