This is the first in a series of five blog posts about how to create and implement a “SMART” strategy to manage client relationships — one that incorporates personalization and industry expertise into every client interaction. By using this tailored approach, your team will boost your organization’s sales conversion success and deepen those relationships.

Are your relationship managers (RMs) or account executives (AEs) using a “SMART” client strategy?:

Strategic Mindset
Make Recommendations
Alternative Ideas
Real Conversations
Take Less and Give More

Vertical IQ is excited to share our free ebook, “How to Build a ‘SMART’ Sales Organization,” with you! You can download it here.

With the convergence of the COVID-19 pandemic and widespread civil unrest, today’s business environment is unlike anything our country has experienced. Millions of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are struggling to keep their heads above water as they navigate these rough waters.

While a smooth sea may not create a skilled sailor, as the saying goes, many of today’s SMB owners are in need of an experienced guide to help them navigate this (hopefully) once in a generation business environment. How can you, as a financial services provider — banker, accountant, SMB consultant, financial planner, etc. — help your clients and prospects overcome today’s challenges and prepare for future growth?

In the coming weeks, we will be sharing with you the importance of utilizing a “SMART” client strategy. This sales method incorporates Industry Intelligence into each prospect and client interaction. By using this personalized approach to sales, you and your organization will build trust and convert more prospects into loyal clients.

Start with a Strategic Mindset

The first step in this tailored client management strategy is instituting the “S” in SMART: Using a Strategic Mindset. What exactly does this mean? It’s about using big-picture knowledge at the micro level. The successful RM or AE is able to learn from all of the SMBs they work with, and then apply their knowledge strategically to their other clients’ businesses.

Let’s say an RM works with one professional services client, such as a dental practice. They can use the insights they learn about typical trends, business challenges, financial metrics, and more to advise their other dentist clients. They could also apply that knowledge to other related professional services firms such as physician practices, medical equipment suppliers, and more.

This is how smart advisors shift the conversation from themselves to their client— and help the dental practice have a more profitable company. It’s really about being an advisor for them who is thoughtful, unselfish, and caring. 

The value of selecting a niche

One of the most effective ways to nurture that all-important “Strategic Mindset” among your RMs and AEs is to encourage them to select niche industries to focus on. The best advisor for a SMB owner — the one who will add the most value to the relationship — is not a generalist. It is someone who understands the nuances that are unique to that business owner’s industry.

The most successful financial services professionals have chosen two to four niche industries and have become experts in them. They have taken the time to learn about the key competitors, the challenges and opportunities, the trends, the buyers and suppliers. They are attuned of the latest news about the industry and how players operate within the vertical.

It’s a good idea to select industries that are particularly relevant or even growing in the RM/AE’s city, and then do research on those niches to gain industry-specific insights.

Becoming an industry expert

Once you choose your niches, it’s time to increase your knowledge about them. You could spend hours and hours doing internet research and combing periodicals for tidbits on your chosen industries. Or, you can boost your Industry Intelligence with these four simple steps:

  1. Review the Vertical IQ Industry Profile on the niche you’ve selected. Or, if you’re pressed for time, print and take a look at the 5-minute Call Prep Sheet.
  2. Subscribe to the Vertical IQ Quarterly Update emails to stay apprised of the latest information about the industry.
  3. Subscribe to relevant trade journals and industry news outlets.
  4. Attend the trade association gatherings (virtually for now, of course!).

Applying your expertise

When you’ve increased your expertise on your niches with the above steps, the final (and most important) step is to share this expertise with your clients and prospects in the industry. You can (and should) do this by incorporating Industry Intelligence into each interaction. You’re bound to see market share increase in those specific niches being targeted by your team.

Here are some easy ways to showcase the Industry Intelligence you gain via Vertical IQ in your client communications:

  • Forward the Quarterly Update email to your client with a note pointing out any particularly salient trends.
  • Print a recent news article from the Industry Profile and mail it to your client with a note that you will call to discuss.
  • Incorporate information about industry trends or risks into your conversation or presentation.

Boost your value proposition

Not to put too fine a point on it, but financial services are a commodity. There are a lot of providers out there offering more or less the same products and services for around the same price. You must somehow distinguish your organization’s value proposition from the pack.

Add to the equation that your clients’ time is valuable. As an SMB owner, they have a lot on their plate and a lengthy to-do list. That’s why it’s important for the client to be willing — even eager — to invest their time and money into having access to your team members. This is about much more than just buying your company’s products and services. It’s about the value you bring to the table.

Having a Strategic Mindset as part of your SMART sales strategy means taking the knowledge you’ve gained about an industry niche and applying it to other clients’ businesses. And in today’s turbulent business environment, this tailored guidance is exactly what your SMB owner-clients are clamoring for!

Vertical IQ SMART eBookLearn more about how to create a SMART sales strategy by downloading Vertical IQ’s free ebook, “How to Build a ‘SMART’ Sales Organization,” today!


Photo credit: Christina Wocintechchat via Unsplash