Magic happens in your career when you stop trying to call and drop in on anyone who might be breathing and have a few dollars, and start, instead, to take extraordinary care of your existing clients.

I’ve been working with Bryant, a financial advisor in New York, who has been “just getting by” for nearly five years.  Our work started when he asked me for better cold-call scripts, and I suggested that there was a better way to get clients.

We talked about how he could use the same time he had been spending cold-calling:

(1) Serving his existing clients better,

(2) Surprising and delighting them, and

(3) Earning referrals from them.

As part of our coaching, Bryant submits a weekly report to me.  Here’s what he wrote to me last week:

Hey Sandy, quick update…I surprised and delighted two of my best clients.  I got the first one a slow cooker that matches her new appliances.  Her neighbor happened to have been there when I brought it in…and I got an appointment with her!  I’m waiting for the gift I thought of for the other one to be delivered to me so I can bring it to her…she likes gummy bears, so I bought her a 5-lb gummy bear!!!  Haha!  Also, she invited me to come to this baby shower she is hosting, so I bought the baby some gifts…I’ll keep you up to date on that!  Thanks for the motivation!

“Surprising and delighting” isn’t about the cloying act of trying to please people so that they give you their money.  It’s about letting good clients know that you value them and listen to them.  Bryant brought a kitchen gift to a good client that matched the new appliances she was proud of.  The giant gummy bear showed his second client that he listened to her and learned about her likes and dislikes.

Too often I talk with professionals who, even after years of working with them, don’t know very much about their best clients.

Surprising and delighting also isn’t about spending huge amounts of money—or even buying presents, for that matter.  Dropping by the hospital (empty-handed) when his client was recovering from surgery cost one advisor I work with nothing, but had his client telling all of his friends about the visit.

So, unless you know your client loves gummy bears, don’t send her a five-pound gummy bear.  But what would surprise and delight her?  If you don’t know, it’s time to learn more about her.  If you do know, this is the perfect season to show her you value her as a client.

Would your clients appreciate a coaching session with me if you arranged it?  Contact me and I’ll tell you how to set one up.  Even if they never use it, they’ll always remember the unique gift you offered them.

While I’m on it, give yourself the same gift.  Start the New Year with a clear understanding about where you’re heading.  In the meantime, keep REACHING…

Sandy Schussel says:

Thanks for the feedback. Many of the approaches I work on with advisors and agents are similar to Sid’s and their success rates almost always improve over the old ‘Always Be Closing’ style still taught by most companies. But you’re correct that I do a lot more work on improving business by focusing on the overall client relationship. Thanks for noticing!

Tony says:

Hi Sandy, Great article, please keep reminding us of the how and the why to suprise and delight our clients. I think you are really on to something and should (if you haven’t already) build your whole coaching practice around this platform. I hired a coach, Sid Walker whos platform is really all about “the low key approach” and “using your intuition” and I really valuded his teaching. I think your platform or what you should be known for is the “serve, surprise and delight” philosophy. What a great way of thinking that we as “sales people” need to adopt and get better at putting into practice in our lives. I love this idea and know I need to be doing more of it and I appreciate the reminders to get out there and do it. And the tips on how to get started. Thank you and please keep this information coming so I can improve.