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How to Connect Emotionally with Clients

February 4, 2021

How to make sure you have the information you need to deepen relationships during client conversations



The car’s loaded for vacation and you’re pulling out of the driveway when it hits you: That feeling that you’ve forgotten something important. You start going through your mental checklist: wallet, check; underwear, check; toothpaste, check. You keep driving, but you’re still anxious that you’re not completely prepared.

Similarly, feelings of anxiety can creep in before client meetings. You’re busy gathering their investment performance, portfolio analysis, financial plan, etc. But you’re still anxious about the small talk that’ll kick off the meeting, because you don’t have the details you need to engage in a personal conversation. Here’s how to avoid that apprehension and make sure you have the info you need at your fingertips.


What We’re Going to Cover:

  1. The importance of emotional connection
  2. Gathering info on client relationships
  3. What to do with the info


First, the Importance of Emotional Connection

Many financial professionals tend to keep client conversations focused on finances. That’s what clients expect. But by doing so, the relationship stays strictly business, without an emotional connection. This is a problem because clients who are emotionally connected are more valuable to your practice. Here’s why.

Emotionally connected customers buy more of your products and services, visit you more often, exhibit less price sensitivity, pay more attention to your communications, follow your advice, and recommend you more—everything you hope their experience with you will cause them to do. So how do you build emotional connections with clients? You show your clients that you care about more than their finances by having conversations about personal topics. Here’s how to get the info you need to connect emotionally with clients.


Second, Gather Information About Your Clients’ Key Relationships

If you’re going to have personal conversations with clients, a good place to start is to discuss their family and friends. And rather than say "How are the grandkids?" ask, "How are Olivia and James?" Knowing the names of family members shows you care and is much more personable.

To Be Able To Ask That Kind of Question, You Need Personal Information

You won’t be able to gather it all at once. First, use our Know Your Client Worksheet below to write down all the information you currently know about your clients’ relationships and interests. For the info you don’t know, gather it over time. Each time you have a conversation or call with a client, make it a goal to gather a tidbit of personal information. Get your support team involved too. They can also gather info when they’re talking with clients.

Start with your top 25 clients. Gather info on their relationships. Some financial professionals jot it right on the worksheet, but you can also enter this info into your customer relationship management (CRM) system. Start by getting the names, ages, and interests of spouses, children, and grandchildren. With this intel, you’ll be able to ask you'll be able to ask specific questions like, “How’s Olivia’s gymnastics class going?” Here’s a list of the info you’ll want to gather:

  • Children & grandchildren
  • Pets
  • Parents & siblings
  • Friends
  • Colleagues
  • Professional acquaintances
  • Neighbors

Next, on the other side of the worksheet, gather info on your clients’ interests, including:

  • Important dates: birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, etc.
  • Recreational activities and hobbies
  • Favorite sports teams
  • Favorite restaurants/food
  • Vacation locations
  • Volunteer work/charity involvement
  • Health and medical history
  • Preferred beverages
  • Social clubs and organizations
  • Political interests
  • Exercise habits
  • Alma mater

Once you’ve gathered this info, then what?


Third, What To Do With All This Information

Prior to meeting with a client, take some time to review their info on the Know Your Client Worksheet. Then, when you meet with your client or have phone calls with them, ask about an item or two on the worksheet. Don’t just dive into your client’s investment performance. Rather, ask about one of your client’s grandchildren or pets by name. Or ask about one of their hobbies.

By having these types of personal conversations, you’ll build emotional connections. You’re conveying to your clients that you’re a good listener and care about the most important things in their lives. There’s a good chance they’ll mention you to their friends if the topic of finances comes up. In addition to building emotional connections, you can use the worksheet to build new relationships.

Having a more personal connection also makes it easier to ask for personal introductions to people your clients know. For example, you can just ask your client, “Jim, you mentioned that you play golf after work with Dave on Fridays. I’d like to meet him. Could I join you next week?” Request personal introductions in a social venue. Why? It’s more comfortable for your client to simply make the connection, not sell your services. Plus, it’s easier to develop rapport with their connection when business isn’t the discussion topic.


Are You Wondering if This Is All Worth It?

True. It’s going to take some time and effort to gather all this data. But it’s necessary to have personal conversations that build emotional connections. A Harvard study found that emotionally connected customers are 52% more valuable than highly satisfied customers. Yes, you read that right: Emotionally connected customers are more likely to buy more from you and recommend you to their friends.

Emotionally-Connected Customers Are 52% More Valuable Than Highly Satisfied Customers

Emotionally connected customers buy more of your products and services, visit you more often, exhibit less price sensitivity, pay more attention to your communications, follow your advice, and recommend you more—everything you hope their experience with you will cause them to do.

Source: An Emotional Connection Matters More than Customer Satisfaction, Harvard Business Review August 29, 2016. Most recent data available.


Remember These Steps When You Want to Build Emotional Connections With Clients

First, don’t settle for relationships with top clients that are strictly business. Rather, strive to build emotional connections. Second, to build emotional connections, you’ll need to have personal conversations. Use the worksheet below to gather clients’ personal details you’ll need to have personal conversations. Third, before client meetings, review the worksheet, then ask a question based on the details on the worksheet.


Avoid the Pre-Meeting Jitters

Whether we’re leaving for vacation or getting ready for a meeting with a top client, none of us like feeling like we may have forgotten something important. Use the Know Your Client Worksheet to avoid the panic of not having anything personal to discuss, and you’ll have plenty of things to talk about.


Next Steps:

  1. Download the Know Your Client Worksheet
  2. Begin filling out the worksheet for three top clients
  3. The next time you meet with them, discuss an item on the worksheet


Most Financial Professionals Collect Details about Clients' Interests and Connections

Webinar polling question: Are you documenting personal interests of clients, their parents, kids, friends?

This is good news. Financial Professionals need details about their clients lives to have personal conversations. The question is: Are you using a  consistent process to capture the the details you need? 


Source: Get Your Clients Talking: How Word of Mouth Can Help Your Business webinar, Hartford Funds webinar poll, 9/12/18.