How do you feel when you meet someone who just naturally makes you feel at ease? There are people who seem to have the gift of engendering trust. Our client Tom Perrone is one of those people. One of the things we have learned in working with Tom is that his ability to make people feel comfortable is based upon two things: 1. Effort, and 2. Skills. Tom really makes an effort to ensure that the people he meets feel at ease and safe. Over the years, he has honed skills that he applies in a seemingly effortless way in his interactions with others.
Tom focuses on the Seniors Market. One of his core values is that seniors feel safe. It is important to him that his clients feel safe financially and emotionally. The core of his Value Proposition is that his clients make the right decisions long term. Tom has been known to say “I would like a nickel for every dollar of commission I gave up to do the right thing.” Tom takes the long view. It starts when he meets a prospective client for the first time. He focuses on getting to know them through asking feeling questions. Tom understands that people treat facts as factors, but make decisions based upon feelings. All decisions are values based.
The initial meeting is a Discovery i.e. an in-depth exploration of what is important to the client(s). He follows up each of these meetings with a handwritten Thank You card in which he reiterates what they want in life. Later, many clients tell Tom that this personal touch affirmed their decision to become a client. Tom includes personal notes at each stage of the client experience e.g. before sending the Engagement Agreement, he sends a personal card. If a client or family member gets sick, Tom will send a personal note. He believes in small acts of kindness. Clients who have been sick will receive tickets to go to the movies and have a night out. As a result, his clients feel very well treated.
After each meeting, Tom asks his clients to complete a brief Client Experience Survey. In the survey, he highlights that his business is referral based. A sheet is included where they can add the names of people whom Tom would benefit from meeting. In some instances, clients will include eight to ten names. Tom assures his clients that the people whom they refer will always be in control of whether or not they talk to him. Then, a letter with an article of interest goes out to each referral. His secretary includes a flyer that says if they do not want to receive this information, they will not be sent anything further. Everything that goes out includes a reference from the person who recommended them. Each referral receives 8-10 high quality letters or emails a year. Four of them are unique newsletters that include recipes, stories about clients, and articles of interest to seniors. The intent is to differentiate the newsletter from the typical financial piece that advisors send out.
Tom believes that if you provide people with good information and stay in touch over a three to four year period, people will experience a trigger event that will lead them to call and book an appointment. Recently, a prospect whom Tom had in his system for over three years, sold his business and called Tom for help in managing the new wealth. Through a client experience marked by random acts of kindness and thoughtful interactions, prospective clients get a feel for Tom as a warm and caring human being. Recently, Tom sent a get well card to a prospect recovering from back surgery. The couple called and soon after, became clients.
Each quarter, Tom will identify 50 clients and send them a client experience survey. The incentive to complete the survey is participation in a draw. The prize could be a $150 gift certificate for dinner at a restaurant of their choice, tickets to the theatre or a sporting event, etc. Typically, he gets a 50% response rate. Just last week, he received 18 referrals from a recent client experience survey. In our work together over the last year, Tom has spent more time focused on client experience. He handpicks two or three clients a week to take for lunch or dinner. Each is given a client experience survey to complete. Tom has learned that it is less stressful for everybody if his prospects do not feel as if they are being solicited.
Tom’s goal is to add 150-200 introductions per year to his pipeline management system. At any point in time, he will have 250-300 prospects receiving information. The important thing to note is that Tom has a system that consistently generates 15-20 new clients per year. He calls this concept “Friends helping Friends”.