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Earning trust in tough times

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Amid the 2008 recession, MDRT members share how earning their clients’ trust has helped them make a sale.

First published in the March/April 2009 issue of Round the Table

Start with a referral

The majority of my prospective clients are being referred to my office by other advisors in either the legal, accounting or investment profession, so the first level of trust is being reached by a warm referral from someone the client already trusts. Once I am in front of a client, additional trust is continually being built during our discussions. I tell them about existing client insurance stories, explain the way I shop to find the most appropriate products for my clients, introduce my extensive pre-underwriting process, share client testimonials, and relay to them how my staff coordinates the entire process from the beginning to the end. I believe this tactical combination and effort helps me solidify the trust of my client, and allows me to complete the process to make a sale, but more importantly, secure a valued client.
—David Eric Appel, CLU, ChFC, Newton, Massachusetts, 24-year member

While I can’t say the trust my clients have placed in me has helped me close new business during this difficult economy, it has certainly helped me to retain their business.
—Gregory B. Gagne, ChFC, Exeter, New Hampshire, 21-year member

Eliminate emotion

At this very difficult time, my clients’ trust in me and my organization have helped me convince them to sit tight and not panic. The clients often called and asked how we were — not how their account was. They knew that we were doing our very best to position them according to their risk tolerance and would encourage them not to sell on emotion, but to stick with their long-term plans. Now that things have calmed just slightly, they trust us to make good decisions regarding any repositioning we find appropriate. Interestingly enough, one client, when asked if we could have our usual review meeting, said, “I’ll have lunch with you and agree to any recommendation you make. Just don’t show me my numbers.”
—Sally W. Munford, CLU, MSFS, San Antonio, Texas, 33-year member

Provide a thorough explanation

Trust begins when a sale is made in such a way that the client understands the pros and cons of implementing the product. They also understand that markets fluctuate, and we certainly will experience times when returns are down. If we sell based on the rate of return, we set our clients up for disappointment when the market struggles. No solution is perfect. No great short-term investment is also a great long-term investment and vice versa. When nothing surprises them based on a thorough explanation at the beginning of the process, they will implement other products in the future. Equally important, they will also recommend us by telling others, “This is someone I trust, and you can too.” The truth is, proper diversification and sticking to the fundamentals is more important now than ever. As boring as that may sound, it works.
—David L. Alarid, Newport Beach, California, 32-year member

Provide a well-balanced strategy

Building a well-balanced financial strategy for clients helps maintain trust and confidence. Belgium is a country of savers, and with two major banks having had recent trouble, it has shaken the public’s faith. However, we have been able to continue to win new clients through a comprehensive approach to their financial planning.
—James M. McEvoy, CLU, AEP, Brussels, Belgium, former member

Give them control

More often than not, my clients will say, “Do what you think is best. I trust you.” I have been in the business for a while and their advisor for so long that they feel comfortable with me. I usually present a couple of solutions to their situation and let them feel like they are in control. We weigh the pluses and minuses of each choice and then make the decision that seems to fit their best interests. In the end, they don’t feel pressured and look to me to advise them.
—Robert L. Avery, CLU, ChFC, Denver, Colorado, 35-year member

Trust earns referrals

Every time a client introduces us to a friend or relative, they place great trust in us to do the job right. They are putting their reputation on the line, and we must not let them down. Trust is like a china plate. If we crack it, we may be able to fix it, but the crack will always be there. Just about every sale I have made is because someone trusted me enough to pass along my name.
—Caroline A. Banks, FPFS, London, England, 31-year member

Show you care

As their trusted advisor, my clients turn to me for solutions to their insurance and financial needs. The time that we have spent to evaluate their wants and needs with care and the sensitive information I gather puts me in a trusted position like no one else. There is a saying: “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” At this point in my career, I think that 80% of the sales I make with my clients is a result of the trusting relationships I have built over time. The other 20% is made as a result of better company ratings, product interest rates or lowest premium. We have a huge responsibility to our clients to fulfill our roles as not only trusted advisors, but knowledgeable and ethical advisors. In these times of economic uncertainty, our clients need extra hand-holding along with sound advice to make sure they can achieve their goals and objectives.
—Barbara Brazda Dietze, CLU, ChFC, Bethesda, Maryland, 27-year member


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