Inflection Points – The Science of Relational Milestones

I have had the pleasure of working with Financial Advisers for a number of years and I don’t think it is a secret that the strength of an adviser’s practice is measured in the quality and quite often, the profitability of his or her relationships.

No matter the endeavor, we are always in the pursuit of gaining Trust, Value and Momentum for our Relationships. There is certainly an Art and Science to creating Relational Momentum and today, we will take a look at the Science through Relational Milestones, or as I like to call them, Inflection Points!

In Science an inflection point is the event on a parabola wave where there is a change (Delta) in the path of the wave length. The changes are either positive or negative but can easily be seen and are often rather demonstrative.

Inflection Points explanation

The path on a relationship timeline on the way to an event is never a straight line.

There are many changes in momentum both positive and negative. The idea behind Relationship Momentum is to gain such movement in a consistent and positive direction that the Inflection Points remain important but the likelihood of a negative change (Delta) becomes unlikely due to the weight (quantity and quality) of the relationships behind an initiative.

In the game of American Football there are many points of inflection during a game. A recent study performed by, found that there are 9 specific happenings or plays that are encompassed in their “Big Play Index” and while long Touchdown passes and Blocked Kicks are very different than that of the inflection points of study in this article, they have one major thing in common. Execute them correctly and you win! Execute them poorly or have them working against you, and you will lose. The evidence? The last time that the index was tested in the NFL, the top 8 teams who had the most “Big Plays” found themselves in the playoffs. Inflection points on the way to a desired event are important in all aspects of life, especially when Relationship Momentum plays a role in someone making a decision to purchase a product, a service or a person.

In the early stages of a relationship, there are plenty of opportunities and threats to increase or derail momentum.

In this meditation, I have identified 5 Inflection Points that simply, for lack of a better word, cannot be fumbled.

These 5 make up the concert of tactics that lead to a relationship consummation of some sort. Fail in the execution of one of these elements of the relationship building process and you will, at a minimum, be fighting an uphill battle to salvage a potential union. Most likely, you will be waiving “bye bye” to any possible accretive outcome for either party.

The 5 Relational Momentum Inflection Points are:

  1. The Impression – This is the first opportunity to make an impact. It is the first real point of contact that can never be erased. Hence the name….an imprint is made in the mind and will forever be linked to how the relationship will be received. It is the foundation!
  2. The Connection – This is the opportunity to share a proposition of value that can be mutually accretive. It could be anything, but without this mortar for the proverbial bricks of a relationship, there is nowhere to go.  This is also the first opportunity for an agreed upon destination or event that denotes the consummation of a relationship, whatever that may be.
  3. The Promise – This is the opportunity to simply do what you said what you were going to do. It could be an email, a call, a service deliverable or even showing up on time. Building trust is the glue for a relationship and is a must if an event is to ever be reached.
  4. The Conflict – This Inflection Point is the first opportunity to experience stress in the relationship. It rarely is a fight but is a happening or perhaps when the luster from the Impression and the Connection wears off as you come to presentation of terms. It’s when numbers or prices are presented. It’s when the first disagreement takes place. Conflicts are like muscles, when torn they either become an injury or they mend stronger than ever. The Conflict Inflection Point either supports the original Connection and Impression or it exposes them for their lack of authenticity.
  5. The Investment – This is when, for the first time that there is an acknowledgment, a commitment to buy or buy into the value proposition. This is usually verbal and where the cerebral contract of trust happens. The relationship now changes to one that is now built on intent and action and the “Event” in which you have been on a path to consummate is now within reach.

When executed correctly the Relational Momentum wave looks like this:

Optimal Inflection Points chart

Notice that there is always a bit of ebb and flow, even when everything is going well and the inflection points are executed with precision. The reason there is a slight drop off in momentum is that you are often not spending every waking moment with the person or company. Hence the small wane in momentum. Just as you must manage each Inflection Point effectively, you must always pay attention to the time frames between these Points of Inflection. The more time in between, the more Momentum can wane. Unfortunately most Relational Momentum waves look like this:

Typical Inflection Points - Financial Advisors

If the Inflection Points of the relationship are executed poorly the “event” can be pushed further and further away and it often leads to a failed Relationship where there is never a consummation and the mutually desired event is never reached.

This is the result:

Inflection Points - Not Ideal Result for Advisors Relathionship

Events could be anything in the world of the Financial Adviser.

A sale, a fee agreement, a merger, a referral, or an acquisition even…The key to all of this is building and sustaining momentum (intrinsic motion, Mass X Velocity) throughout the relationship building process. Some events take months, some take minutes, but one cannot deny the fact that they are real and dire to the process if a certain event is desired and people are involved.

One last point. Just because you reach a desired event, do not think for a second that the journey is over.

The Inflection Points of the Relational Momentum journey must be continuously stewarded as we all have short memories. The cycle must be repeated over and over as new events are established, value bonds are forged and the relationships transform into unions that contain so much momentum, they can virtually never be broken.

If you liked this post, consider purchasing Brian Church’s book “Relationship Momentum”

Relationship Momentum Book Cover

(also available on Amazon)

Webinar Replay available: Don Connelly’s Center Stage with Brian Church – Relationship Momentum for Advisors

Don and Brian discuss how to build Relationship Momentum for your ideas and your practice. This Webinar will help you:

  • Understand the importance of relationships in your business
  • Discover why some marketing ideas and value proposition succeed or fail
  • Provide you with a formula for successful outcomes in your initiatives
  • Help you acquire the ‘Three Equities’ that provide weight for your practice
  • Help you determine the need for strategy and execution
  • Challenge you to escape the realm of mediocrity and realize your dreams

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