Employees working in financial services industries—which have had their reputations damaged by bad decisions, negative publicity, and outright public anger—need to act personally to regain the confidence of their clients and prospects. And, according to Suzanne Bates, author of "Motivate Like a CEO," it's going to take a lot of personal initiative to repair those damged relationships.
"Client-serving financial services professionals have been left wondering how they can possibly earn back trust, even though most probably haven't done anything wrong themselves. They are concerned about holding onto the business they still have, and perplexed about how to fairly and accurately answer tough questions they are getting from clients and prospects," says Bates, president and CEO of Bates Communications.
Bates offers the following advice on how financial services professionals can interact with their clients and prospects toward rebuilding trust, confidence, and business:
• Get a message. "If your clients and prospects sense you do not have a recovery plan, they are not going to want to restore this relationship," Bates says. You need to develop a meaningful message for your clients and prospects about what will be best for them under the circumstances—and you need to be well-prepared to deliver that message."
• Get a meeting. "Prospects who regard the current economy as a good investment opportunity will be easier for you to meet with. But you also need to call on those who may be more difficult to deal with. You may be risking your future livelihood, as well as losing more current business, by giving up after only one spurned attempt," says Bates.
• Get answers. "You will need to have real answers to tough questions. To best prepare, you should write down anticipated questions, get answers, and then rehearse the replies on videotape. You don't want to be stammering through the answers you deliver. Your clients, especially, will want to know that you have thought about them and their situations, and that you have some reasonable options for them to consider," Bates says.
• Get real. "Don't pretend you have all the answers. Future economic performance is still very uncertain and clouded. The old 'buy and hold'
investment strategy may not be viable anymore. You are going to have to get a better understanding of the situation before advising your clients and prospects," says Bates.
• Get going. "It's natural to feel down and out right now, and difficult to motivate yourself or stay upbeat when there has been so much negative news,” says Bates. “It's always refreshing to reach out and talk with people -even if you just want to offer them some help for their business."
"If your organization has considered bringing in training for your sales, product, or client service team, be sure you look for a firm that offers more than a presentation skills course. You don't need 'boiler plate' presentation skills training, but advisors and coaches who understand your business, and can prepare you for real meetings, where there will be tough questions - and you'll have to communicate in a way that rebuilds trust," Bates adds.
Editor's Note: For more on rebuilding business credibility, read "Credibility Lessons from Bernie Madoff.
Suzanne Bates is the author of "Motivate Like a CEO: Communicate Your Strategic Vision and Inspire People to Act!," published by McGraw-Hill in January 2009, which recently became the No. 1 best-seller in books on communication skills on amazon.com. She is also the author of the business best-seller "Speak Like a CEO, Secrets to Commanding Attention and Getting Results" (McGraw Hill 2005). She is president and CEO of Bates Communications Inc. (www.bates-communications.com).