Client Events: One of the best activities I learned and then taught thousands of salespeople (financial advisors specifically) was how to host fantastic client events. I became an expert on these events after participating in over 200 of them. We learned a lot in the beginning when we started hosting Public Seminars. That was a lot of work, mass mailings, large rooms to seat 100 at dinner or lunch and HOPE that people would show up. Like seagulls, some people only came for the free meal and left little behind. Some became clients but most asked when we were having another one ~ since the food was so delicious. Okay, lesson learned. From that, I realized that it’s easier to gain referrals from happy clients and it’s easier to keep a current client happy than it is to find new clients. Hence the brilliant idea of hosting events for current clients and encouraging (not forcing) them to bring another friend or couple IF they wanted to.
Hosting public seminars was truly a “time suck” and many times a waste of money. But that’s how many advisors built their business in the 1980s. Seminars and cold calls were the two activities that found new clients. Ok, so both worked then but things change and I’m going to give you a recipe for hosting client events that will be efficient, easy and successful.
1. Know what your clients enjoy doing when they are not working. Do they golf, collect art, wine or antiques? Do they have grandkids or young kids? (Think multi-generational planning here) Do they fish, flyfish, shoot skeet? One of my favorite advisors on this planet is Jeb Bashaw in Houston. Jeb knows all of his clients and all the hobbies they enjoy. He hosts more than a dozen Client Events each year with one purpose. He wants his clients and their families to enjoy time together doing something they all love to do. Jeb’s a guy with a big heart! He’s a fantastic husband, father, friend to many and a very successful financial advisor. His clients know how much he cares because it shows in how he treats them.
2. Organize a small event (25 clients or less) based around the interest of your clients. For example, if you know 15 clients who enjoy collecting and drinking wine, you contact a local wine merchant that will host a wine sampling. The event brings new customers to their store. This merchant probably knows a local restaurant or caterer that will provide some tapas or Hors d’oeuvres to accompany the wine. Everyone wins! Clients appreciate meeting a local wine expert and thank you for creating the event. The restaurant/caterer and wine merchant gain favor and business on a quiet night and you feel good because you just did something for three different groups!
3. Inviting guests: the old way to get people to learn about your event was to send mailers and I mean thousands of them to home that surround the zip code of the event location. Please don’t do that anymore! Here’s the easy way. If you are going to invite clients to this event at the wine merchant I wrote about. Find clients that live within twenty miles of the event AND drink or collect wine. Once you have your list, you call each one. Yes, no mailing invites. Here is your script ~ “Hi Lynn. I know that you and Andrew enjoying going to sample wines in Sonoma. I’m hosting a private client event at the Bare Cove Wine Merchant which is just 8 miles from your home. The event is in 6 weeks on August 19th at 7-9pm. Can you both join us.?”
Lynn’s answer will be either “Yes, No or let me check with Andrew and get back to you.” Bingo! Not only did you make them feel appreciated, you also “touched” them and I’m sure you know how many touches each client should receive each year. When a client says “Yes, we can make it.” Your next script is, “Great, we look forward to seeing you. If you would like to bring another couple or friend, feel welcome to do so. Many clients bring friends so they will know someone else there. Just let us know a few weeks before the event so that we have enough food and wine for everyone. My clients are very friendly and outgoing like you are, so you’ll meet people very easily and quickly.” Many clients bring a friend or couple and if you make everyone feel welcome and appreciated, you will likely gain a few new clients that night. It’s WIN WIN all the way around!
There are several more steps in this process, but this is a good start! If you have any questions, email me at Neil@neilbwood.com I am rewriting the book I published in 2005 and that will also have the Ten Tips for Client Events in it.
Happy July 4th! Wishing you all the best and plenty of fun with your family and friends ~