How to Bring Back Face-to-Face Meetings with Clients
A survey by YCharts in December 2019 found that clients didn’t feel engaged and wanted more personalized communications. We’ve posted several times that, pre- and post-pandemic, the frequency and style of advisors’ communication directly impact client trust and confidence in their advisor, financial plan, and their likelihood of keeping their advisor.
A more recent report, post-pandemic, found that, though virtual meetings had taken hold as a viable form of communication for advisors forced to limit in-person meetings, it’s likely that the decrease in face-to-face contact contributed to client feelings of reduced communication. That’s a direct threat to the strength of the advisor-client relationship.
Why face-to-face meetings are essential for client growth
While convenient and practical for maintaining communication frequency, virtual meetings can never replace face-to-face meetings for building trust and deep connections with clients, which is the bedrock of the advisor-client relationship. That’s why nearly three-quarters of financial advisors prefer to meet their clients in the flesh.
Advisors know that face-to-face meetings are critical to enhancing the quality of their interactions and building stronger relationships. Yet, many clients have become conditioned to virtual relationships, with some preferring their convenience and others simply embracing the new status quo.
Advisors who want to reverse that trend must take proactive steps to recondition their clients and highlight the virtues of in-person meetings. Here’s how to do just that.
#1. Assess your client preferences
Reach out to your clients to gauge their comfort levels and preferences regarding in-person meetings. Some clients might still prefer virtual meetings due to convenience or health concerns, so respecting their choices is essential.
#2. Clearly communicate your intentions
Inform your clients of your intentions to resume face-to-face meetings, explaining that while technology and digital communication are convenient, nothing can replace the value of face-to-face interaction. Explain why it’s essential in providing the best possible client experience—with better communication, more personalized service, and a stronger personal connection. You should also lay out the safety protocols you have in place to reassure your clients your office is a safe and comfortable environment.
#3. Consider a hybrid approach
You could consider adopting a hybrid approach, offering both in-person and virtual meetings as an option. In-person meetings are critical for the initial client meetings, where trust and rapport are built. You could offer to conduct follow-up and quarterly meetings virtually while conducting annual reviews in person.
#4. Send personalized invitations
When you want to meet with clients in person, send personalized invitations highlighting the benefits of face-to-face interactions, including your desire to better understand their needs and concerns so you can provide more personalized advice free of errors or misunderstandings. A personalized approach shows that you value your relationship and are willing to invest time in their financial well-being.
#5. Present the face-to-face meeting as an educational opportunity
Frame the meeting as an educational experience. Stress that meeting in person allows you to explain complex financial concepts more thoroughly, ensuring they clearly understand their options.
#6. Provide a clear agenda
When asking a client to meet in person, provide a clear agenda outlining what topics will be covered and the potential benefits they will gain from the discussion.
#7. Offer flexibility
Be flexible with your scheduling to accommodate your clients’ busy lives. Some may need evening or weekend appointments to fit their schedules. You could even propose a location other than your office that’s convenient for both parties.
#8. Offer small group seminars
One way to condition your clients to meet in person is by organizing small group seminars or workshops on financial topics of interest. This can be an excellent way to gather clients who are comfortable with in-person interactions and provide valuable insights.
Make it worthwhile for your clients to visit your office by creating a welcoming atmosphere with a personal greeting at reception, an offer of refreshments, and a relaxed setting to put them at ease.
#10. Take your clients to lunch or breakfast
Even for clients who prefer virtual communication, an offer to take them to lunch or breakfast is hard to pass up. It may not be the proper setting for conducting in-depth business, but it’s a golden opportunity to get face-to-face and solidify the relationship.
No form of communication builds trust and a personal connection better than face-to-face interaction. Your clients have been conditioned to do without it out of necessity. It’s your job to remind them why meeting in person is in their interest to get the maximum value out of the relationship.
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