How to Become a Trusted Advisor and Deepen Client Lifetime Value

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How to Become a Trusted Advisor and Deepen Client Lifetime Value

Episode Summary

If you want to extract more value from your client relationships, this is the podcast for you. Listen to this episode of the Valtimax Podcast today and you will discover how to take your client relationships to the next level.

Transcript

How to Become a Trusted Advisor

Hi there folks, and welcome once again to another edition of the Valtimax podcast. I’m Dave Lorenzo and I’m the owner and founder of two consulting companies. Rainmaker Lawyer Consulting, which helps attorneys make a great living and live a great life, and Valtimax Consulting, which helps business owners make a great living and live a great life as well. Through Valtimax Consulting, we license all of our systems to coaches, consultants, and business strategists all over the world so they can reach out to folks in all other industries.

This week, we are going to do something different and very special here at the Valtimax podcast. I am going to cover with you how you can become an expert on any subject, any topic, any issue, in a very short period of time. I want to give you some background on how this was developed, this process was developed, and how I and my team have come to perfect it over the years. First, I want to make sure you know about all the benefits available to you through our consulting companies.

This podcast is available through iTunes. You can subscribe to iTunes. It’s the Valtimax podcast. It’s business strategy and marketing mastery by Valtimax. You can also find each episode of the Valtimax podcast posted at rainmakerlawyer.com. There’s a list of categories on the left-hand side of rainmakerlawyer.com. Select podcasts and you’ll see all the podcasts right there. We also produce lots of articles. Over eight hundred articles as I record this. Videos, each and every single week through our four-minute Fixation series, which is available on YouTube and also at rainmakerlawyer.com. I encourage you to take a look at all the free resources we have to offer at rainmakerlawyer.com. Join us there, or you can join us at valtimax.com. V-A-L-T-I-M-A-X dot com.

Now, the benefits to you in becoming an expert on any subject, topic or issue. Here’s what the benefits are. You meet with a client, and if you’re an attorney, the client brings you some issues that he or she needs you to work on. You may not need to know too much about the client’s business, but if you want to become a trusted advisor, if you want to be around for that client after the matter is done, you need to really get into his business. Understand the benefits to him or her on providing them with the best possible outcome. Too often I find this with attorneys; that they don’t really get into the business their client is doing. They’re more interested in just doing a transaction.

For example, an attorney who is a corporate transactional attorney. Someone comes to him and says, “I need a corporation setup and I want it setup in Delaware. Here’s what I want to do and I want you to do it this way and the reasons why I want you to do it are because I want maximum flexibility and I want to allow for additional investment in the future. Just go ahead and set this up and get it to me tomorrow.” Most attorneys who receive that type of case will say, “Okay fine,” and they’ll set up the corporation in Delaware just as asked and then they will simply move on to the next matter.

If you delve into this client’s business, and understand the reason why he wants things setup that way, you may be able to offer some alternatives. Better yet, you may be able to offer some services the client didn’t know he needed. This will help you deepen your relationship with the client. It will also help you earn more money because there may be more work you or your firm can do. This holds true in any business. Simply put, you just need to care. You need to have some empathy and understanding for the client and his situation and you need to reach out to him and gain an understanding for why he wants things done the way he wants them done. Then offer him other services as it will benefit him.

I developed this as a consultant because when we would go in with … I worked at a big consulting company. A very large consulting company that worked with Fortune 100 Businesses. We would be brought in to do something very specific and very narrow. They would want us to study the way widgets came off an assembly line and give them a way to make the manufacturing better. Well, if we would go in and just do that, we may be making the most effective and efficient widget manufacturing process, but the widget may be obsolete in a year or two and the company would not need us or the widget manufacturing any longer.

What we would do is we would try to gain an understanding, on our own time, for what the widget did, why it was important, and how the manufacturing process was originally developed. The reason we would do that is because wanted a full and comprehensive understanding of the business so we could help make the business more efficient, more effective, and more profitable overall. If that’s your goal, regardless of your position, regardless of the profession that you’re in, to make your client’s business better, to improve your client’s condition. To get the best possible result for your client under any circumstances, then you must do a thorough interview and due diligence process in order to be able to give the best possible advice.

Now, if you’re billing by the hour, this is probably not going to work for the client. You could take ten, twenty hours to get into the client’s business, gain an understanding for it, and then hand the client a bill and the client would say, “Well why? You didn’t need to do that. I don’t understand why you’re doing this.” However, if you do this, and you don’t charge him for it, and then you come back to him and you make three recommendations for what’s called follow-on work after your initial case is concluded, then the client says to you, “Wow, you really understand my business. You know how it works. This is a fantastic opportunity for us to take care of this risk or to develop this additional revenue strategy.”

Now, you probably don’t think that way right now. When you’re brought in, when you’re invited in to a client’s business, that’s an opportunity for you. Where you’re invited into a client’s life, that’s an opportunity for you to help him in a number of ways. You’re brought in. Let’s say you’re invited in. You’re a trusted [inaudible 00:06:57] attorney. You’re invited in to do a will for a client. You do the will and you say to the client, “Well what about a medical power of attorney? What if there’s a, an issue with your health, who do you want to make the decisions? What if these five things happen to you? How would you handle each of these five things? And who would make the decision on the well-being of your children? And who would make the decision to apportion the money of your estate? Who would handle all these things? So you, you don’t just need a will, Mr. Smith, you need these other documents.”

If you’re involved in a criminal case and it’s a DUI and you’re the attorney, you resolve the criminal matter for your client and the client receives diversion. The court record will be there and he needs to get it expunged after a year, you need to let him know that he needs to come back and see you in a year to get the court record expunged. This is something that he’s probably going to want to do, but probably not going to know about. There are many different ways to deepen your relationship with a client and continue your relationship with a client after the initial matter’s over. Most people don’t think about that, particularly most attorneys don’t think about that when the client walks into their office.

Here’s what I’d like you to do. I’m going to give you just a few things to do in order to prepare yourself for handling the ongoing relationship of a trusted advisor and a client. You are going to be the trusted advisor. First, client walks into your office and they bring you a matter or they bring you an issue. In the practice of law, they call it a matter. They bring you a matter. You’re going to say to the client, “All right, tell me what happened.” The client tells you what happened. You agree on a fee for resolving that matter. Keep in mind that there are always underlying or contributory factors. There are always things that contribute to the cause of this matter or this issue. You need to delve into that in order to help the client resolve the issue. Once you do, then you need to say to the client, “Okay we’ve resolved the current issue. What are we going to do about these three things which cause that issue? Here’s some ideas that I have.”

Now, as you gain experience over time, you’re going to be able to look for what we would call fact patterns. The fact patterns are going to be similar from client to client. You’ll know what questions to ask. Very important, you have to do a thorough interview of the client. May not be in the initial meeting, but it may be in the next meeting after. The very first meeting. The second meeting you may do an interview to understand what’s going on in the client’s life or in the client’s business that caused this particular situation. The reason you’re going to do that thorough interview is because based on your experience, you’ve learned some things that contribute to the issues that the client currently faces. That’s great, but if you’ve never worked with this client before, or, if you’ve never worked in the industry that the client is working in, you need to do a couple of things.

The first thing you need to do is what’s called secondary research. It’s unfortunate that the name of it is secondary research because it’s what you do first. It’s called secondary research because you don’t actually work with people who are involved. You work with people who are in the secondary [market. 00:10:30] What you do is essentially, you do a Google search or an internet search on the industry that the client works in. You understand some of the different situations, tactics, strategies that are used in that industry. Then you narrow it down to the local, geographic market in that industry. You do some cursory research, internet research if you will, on the local market within that industry. Then you can look at the individual competitors to your client and understand some of the pressures the client faces and understand the dynamics of doing business in the client’s business in the local community.

You start very broad. You start globally with the entire industry and you narrow it down and then you look at the geographic market within the industry. Maybe if you’re working in a state, let’s say you work in the State of Wisconsin and you’re working with a person who is a car dealer, you look at the market nationally for auto sales. Then you look at the market regionally for auto sales within the State of Wisconsin. Then you look at locally. Let’s say you work in, I don’t know, Green Bay. You look at auto sales within Green Bay. You understand the competitive dynamics and the things that are facing that industry. The challenges he faces. You look at his strengths, his weaknesses and the opportunities and threats. This is what we would call a standard S.W.O.T. analysis. A Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats in the market. Strengths are the things that you think he’s good at. Weaknesses are the things that you think he’s bad at. This can be if you’re a lawyer. It be things from a legal perspective. Look at his, the strengths of his legal position. You look at the weaknesses of his legal position. You look at opportunities for him, legally, and you look at threats, or the risks for him, legally.

You look at that on a global level. On an industry-specific level and then on a local, industry-specific level. Then you can determine what the five or six greatest risks he faces are and see how his risks match up with his weaknesses and how his opportunities match up with his strengths. You can do this on in the span of a couple of hours. Then when you meet with the client, either right before you’ve resolve his issue or right after you’ve resolved his issue, you ask him if he’s given any thought to the opportunities that you see that may exist in his market based on the research that you’ve done. Then you also ask him if he’s given any thought to the risks that he faces based on his weaknesses and the threats the exist in the market.

This does two things. This helps you position yourself as someone who understands what your client is facing, and it also helps you position yourself as someone who can give him advice based on the information that you found. He’s going to look at you in that position as more than a lawyer. Then he’s going to look at you as a trusted advisor. He’s going to look at you as someone who’s actually interested in who he is and what he does. This is powerful, powerful stuff. I hope you can see the difference between spending two or three hours just doing secondary research, internet research on a client’s situation, and helping him. Offering him advice or offering to help him with challenges and problems he faces as a result of that research.

Now, when this happens, three out of four clients will tell you … They’ll be impressed, but they’ll say, “Thank you very much. I’ll call you if I ever want to address these issues. I appreciate it.” The fourth client will say, “I’d like to address these issues and I’d like you to help me. What can you do to help me?” This is where the real opportunity begins. This is where you have the opportunity to truly maximize client lifetime value. That’s what our time together is all about. How can you get into a deep relationship with your clients and maximize the lifetime value?

Let’s say you’re a lawyer, because most of the people who listen to this podcast are lawyers. A client walks into your office four estate planning and he’s a wealthy individual. He owns a couple of businesses. You do his estate plan and you ask these questions upfront. You find out he’s got a problem in one of his businesses. You’ve never worked in that industry. You don’t know, necessarily, what’s going on in that industry but you tell him you’ll look into it for a flat fee of ten thousand dollars. You know he can afford it because you’ve done as estate plan. You tell him you’ll do some research and you’ll present him with some alternatives to solve his business problem. You have no gone from becoming his estate planning attorney to becoming a business strategy consultant for him.

Here’s how you do the research. This information that I’m going to share with you in the next five minutes- it’s only going to take five minutes- is gold for you. It’s how you move from being an attorney to a trusted advisor. You ask the client a series of questions and you list these questions out after you do your secondary research. You ask, and you make the questions in the order that I’ve given you. Broad, national questions. Narrow, more narrow, local, industry-specific questions. Then very narrow, local competitor-based, industry questions. You simply go out and you ask him if it would be permissible for you to speak with three to five of his clients and three to five of his employees. You ask them questions related to the challenge he faces.

Again, this is really important stuff. Once you do that, you will find patterns of behavior or patterns or trends that emerge that are going to likely be the cause of the client’s situation. Once you find those patterns, you are in a position then to recommend solutions. This is very, very productive. Now if you want to conduct thorough studies, you could do a survey or a focus group with his clients or a survey or focus group with his employees. You have to formulate what you’re looking for first, and then you could hire a company to do the survey or the focus group for you. There are companies out there that do those types of things.

Essentially, you’re helping the client solve his problem by being a better listener and by sourcing the root cause of the problem and then generating solutions as a result. Now, if you’re a lawyer, particularly if you’re a trust and estate’s lawyer and these are business issues that have come up, you may think to yourself, “Wow, I’m really getting out of my depth here!” Let’s say just for argument’s sake, you’re a realtor. You ask these questions about a person’s business and the person says, “Well you’re just a realtor.” “Well no, I’m a business person. I solve problems for a living, let me see if I can help you make more money. Let me see if I can help you relieve some of the pain that you’re feeling.” You can do these things, and all of a sudden the fresh set of eyes that you bring to this process may actually help the person solve their problem.

The point that I’m getting at and the purpose of this entire podcast is to get you to think beyond. Think beyond your role when you are brought into a relationship. I want you to think of yourself as a trusted advisor to the person who just walked in your door. Not think of yourself as that person’s attorney. As their realtor. As their CPA. Asking the right questions will help lead you to the right solutions for them. It will help you deepen your relationship with your client over time, and that will lead to more money in your pocket.

The final thing I want to leave you with in this episode of the Valtimax podcast is, you are greater than one transaction per person. Your relationship is greater than one transaction per client. Your relationship is about improving the client’s condition, improving his situation, creating a sustainable business model and practice for him over the long-term. If you think like that, your lifetime value will be far greater to your client than any fee he will ever pay you. Your income that you derive from each client will go through the roof. That’s what most professionals don’t think about. It is far more efficient to work with clients to enhance and deepen your existing relationship with them, than it is to go out and find ten new clients and only work on very small matters one at a time.

Go back and listen to this podcast again. Give some thought to the idea of becoming a trusted advisor and deepening client relationships. It starts by asking questions, doing some research, and really understanding the reasons why clients do what they do and how you can help them do it more effectively, more efficiently, and more sustainably over the long-term.

That’ll do it for this week’s episode of the Valtimax podcast. My name is Dave Lorenzo and I’d like your feedback and comments on this week’s episode. You can call me at 8-8-8-6-9-2-5-5-3-1 or email me at [email protected] Here’s hoping you make a great living and live great lifeĀ®

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