This is Crazy

Tony DiLeonardi

If you want to create a client experience that people love, start loving people.

Loving my clients? My employees? Really! Think about it. How does one create a culture and an experience that is unique? A business that is talked about? A brand that has a legacy?  It's not an accident. It takes intentionality and purpose. How does one "love" their client?

There are many definitions of love. Some definitions describe a love unattainable by humans and other definitions that make it seem common and easily attainable. Additionally, we have minimized the word by using it when we explain everything from my relationship to my wife and my excitement about a football game victory. “Man, I love the Bears!” Well, I certainly don't mean the same love for both of those examples.

So consider this when building a culture that clients say, "wow, they really do care about me." How can we do that? How can I show "love?" What if you used the words TRUST, VULNERABILITY or INTIMACY instead of love? Does that help? Is it the same?

How can we create an intentional culture of professional intimacy to enhance productivity? The simplest way to do that is to do something different. Doing things different than before often leads to new perspectives, which usually lead to new opportunities. New opportunities inspire thinking, action, and lead to new production levels.

Early in my career, I was attending the top producer's conference for a large regional broker. I was one of 40 fund company representatives presenting to 250 or so top financial advisers-who at that time, were the best of the best. For three days we all sat together and listened as 40 asset managers presented their story and sold their products from the main stage. I can honestly say that out of 40 presentations, 35 were terrible. The two main factors that made me come to that conclusion was:

1.     Presentation Skills: They lacked the ability to capture and engage the audience.

2.     Content: The vast majority of presenters focused solely on the performance of their product.

I left that conference with two declarations:

  •  I can present better.
  •  I wouldn't sell my products based on the performance of a fund.

The first declaration was easy enough to fulfill with study and practice. The second took some serious thought. You see, the old model of presenting was based on a promise, and to be frank, was out of my control. How could I ensure a top-performing fund today, last month, or last year would continue that same way? By selling on performance, I'm giving my advisers the right to fire me if everything doesn't play out as I say. Talk about pressure.

I knew I had to figure out a different method to sell in the industry that went beyond the traditional sales model. Having only been on the job for six weeks at that point, I came up with a plan and made my third declaration:

  • I'm going to help financial advisers be better practitioners, grow their business, and manage their life. In other words, truly care for them.

No small feat, but I was ready. I took on a completely different mindset in my approach to doing business. My focus became less about the product and more about the producer and the culture of the industry itself. I attempted to build a community of like-minded professionals to help each other and found that others were out there.

What's exciting about this strategy is that many successful companies are doing it today with extraordinary results. Take a look at Google: They have created not only a unique culture, but also a movement. At the core of their business model is that happy employees are productive employees. Google takes care of its people. They have built a campus where any need you could ever have-in work and in life-is addressed. From meals, to healthcare, to dry cleaning-all your bases are covered at Google. Source: http://blog.kissmetrics.com/googles-culture-of-success/.

Another company that has created an amazing culture for its employees and its clients is Zappos. Their business practices are so transparent, they have their 10 core family values listed right there on their website. Source:http://about.zappos.com/our-unique-culture/zappos-core-values.

1. Deliver WOW Through Service

2. Embrace and Drive Change

3. Create Fun and a Little Weirdness

4. Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open Minded

5. Pursue Growth and Learning

6. Build Open and Honest Relationships with Communication

7. Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit

8. Do More with Less

9. Be Passionate and Determined

10. Be Humble

What are your core values for your business? I encourage you to think this through and come up with what really drives you to do what you do for yourself, your employees, and your clients. Do they know that you truly care for them? Do they rave about you? Do you "love" them, or just love the financial results you derive from them? Consider it. It may make all the difference.